HERTFORD CRICKET CLUB
By Brian Box
Hertford Cricket Club is an old club though its origins cannot be precisely defined. Records date back to 1788, though the games contested then were probably for wagers and did not involve a club in the present sense of the word. An earlier reference to `men of Hertford’ dates back to 1737.
Various clubs were mentioned in the early 1800’s and during this time Hertford played predominately at Hartham with spells at balls Park. The club had mixed fortunes in the early years and was reformed in 1883 when it moved to Balls Park, its current home. For more information on the history of club see ‘From Hartham to Lord’s’.
The Club has taken on board all the developments of the modern game and though initially reluctant to embrace league cricket, did so with style – being champions for five consecutive years, 1975-1979. Various elevens have won their leagues on several occasions. In 2000 the Club won the Becker Transport (League) Cup and were runners–up in the Premier Division. Added to this, the 3rd XI gained promotion and the Club was awarded the President’s Trophy. The following year, 2001, the 1st XI went one better by winning the league and retaining the Becker Cup.
In the earlier years, there was one team playing once a week, usually on a Thursday. The number of elevens has grown and today five sides take part in league cricket on Saturdays and two enjoy a mixture of cup, league and friendly cricket on Sundays. In addition there are also midweek fixtures and competitions and the club has hosted a successful cricket week for many years.
The Club regularly hosts Hertfordshire Championship matches and in 2001 staged a Cheltenham & Gloucester round 3 match. Worcestershire were the visitors and won very convincingly. The crowd was treated to a fine batting display, lead by Graeme Hick with 155, and some excellent fast bowling spearheaded by Aussie test bowler, Andy Bichel. The club also hosted Hertfordshire’s first home three-day Minor Counties Championship match and for both these prestige games the club received much praise for the ground, wicket and facilities. Various other representative matches, from Under 11’s to Over 60’s, have been staged and in some years the ground has been used for up to eight of these matches. Other than by Hertfordshire, the ground has been used by B.U.S.A. and East Anglia Ladies.
Youth cricket is a source of pride at the club. This started over 35 years ago and has grown in importance over the years particularly as the problems of providing cricket in schools escalated. Hertford now runs teams of all age groups, from Under 9 to Under 17, competing in the County leagues. Over recent years Hertford has supplied many colts to the County and Schools Association teams. In 1998 the club launched a `Youth Cricket Scheme’ which attracted local sponsorship and Sportsmatch funding to cover a three year period. The scheme took cricket into all the primary schools in the area and coaching was also provided in the secondary schools. Tournaments were arranged at three age levels with the club hosting an Under 11 Kwik Cricket day and finals of the tournaments for the secondary schools. Ladies have not been forgotten though it has been difficult so far to attract sufficient numbers to form a side. Starting early with girls playing Kwik Cricket may increase interest. The club already runs a Kwik cricket session on Sunday mornings. A Youth Teams’ Parents Committee is very active in assisting with all these activities
To keep with the demands of an expanding club and the demands for ever better facilities, the club has extended its pavilion (built in 1966 to replace the original) four times. Extensions have doubled the number of changing rooms, improved the shower and toilet area and increased the kitchen and bar space. The square has been maintained to a high standard and in the Autumn of 1997 the outfield was levelled and re-seeded.
A second pitch – with a mat on concrete surface – was added in 1980. The surface was upgraded to an artificial turf one in 1986 and more recently grass wickets were prepared alongside the artificial one.
Top quality practice facilities are provided. Four full length nets with artificial surfaces, a grass net square, mobile cage and bowling machine enable the club to offer high quality facilities to junior and senior players alike. Simon Balle School, who have lost their cricket facilities, have the use of the nets and the second pitch thus further demonstrating the Club’s commitment to the development of young cricketers in the community.
As with most clubs, funding is not easy. This is particularly true in times of economic hardship but the club has an active social side and this, together with generous support from older members, most of whom are ex-players, enables the club to fulfil its function as the area’s leading cricket club.
For contact details, where to find the club and details of matches – fixtures and results please visit Hertford Cricket Club.