Winchmore Hill Cricket Club History
Established in 1880, Winchmore Hill Cricket Club has been a bastion of the community for over 130 years.
For some years towards the end of the nineteenth century, Winchmore Hill boasted two Cricket Clubs. One was our club, known as the Winchmore Hill Village CC and the other as Winchmore Hill Cricket and Lawn Tennis Club.
The latter Club had played since 1871 in Vicars Moor Lane and was a fairly expensive Club to belong to and of limited membership. The minutes of 1st April 1879 record that the President of this “Gentlemans” Club was T. Mann Esq, the Secretary was T.T. Busk Esq, and there were the two sons of Thomas Mann, Thomas James and Edward on the Committee. W.T. Paulin Esq, was a member and for many years was Treasurer. All were later to perform a major role in the formation of our present Club. Cricket ‘at the other Winchmore Hill’ seems to have died out around the turn of the twentieth century, but it is interesting to record that the ‘Field’ magazine of 1874 shows them playing Southgate Juniors and several games were reported in the years until 1880.
Move to Ford’s Grove
In the autumn of 1880, John Moore, Head Gardener to the Busk family at Ford’s Grove, approached the master with other villagers for permission to play cricket on his private park on the Firs Lane side of the present ground. A meeting was arranged and the Club was formally founded, on Mr Busk agreeing to the proposition and giving free use of this area where the Club has played ever since. The ‘Village’ was dropped from the name in 1912 when the current club title was adopted.
After the Great War, cricket began in earnest in the summer of 1919 with two elevens, rising to a regular four sides the following year plus a med-week side. Tennis, Football and Hockey soon followed and became self-managing sections of the parent Club.
The present pavilion, a former Officer’s Mess from the wartime army camp at Wimbledon, was opened in 1922 at a cost of £1,750, the majority of the expense being borne from donations and loans by the President and members.
Cricket continued through the Second World War to provide recreation and social functions for members of the services on leave and following the war many charity fund-raising matches were played. The club continued to flourish, fielding six and sometimes seven elevens through the 1950s and 60s.
WHCC vs The West Indies
After hostilities had ceased sport flourished at Ford’s Grove with many members returning from the services. During the 1950s the West Indies opener, Allan Rae, joined the Club whilst studying for his Law degree. He scored centuries for the West Indies at Lords (106) and the Oval (109) in 1950 whilst a Winchmore Hill member. This was the first series win for the West Indies against England.
It was through Allan Rae that the West Indies touring side played against the Club in July 1949. The tourists included Leary Constantine and Everton Weekes plus Rae. This was Weekes’ first match in London and the start was delayed due to the ground being practically under water. When play began at 3pm the West Indies batted first and when Dr. C.B. Clarke, the West Indies captain, declared at 5.15 they had scored 342 for the loss of five wickets. It is reported that”the innings of Weekes was delightful and the robust hitting of the evergreen Leary Constantine was much enjoyed”. When the Club batted there was inevitably an anti-climax but there were some creditable performances in the response of 152.
The Middlesex League Era
And so to the Middlesex County League when Winchmore Hill supported the proposition to establish league cricket in the county of Middlesex. The Hill has played the majority of its league cricket in the top flight but, to date, have not been rewarded with any league honours at that level. We came close one year, 1999, but a 6 point penalty deprived the Club of the title.
After the League was split into two and then three divisions after 1998, the Hill have found themselves in the second tier on two occasions but have bounced back to the top level on both occasions at the first attempt.
This was the case in 2010 when Winchmore Hill won the Second Division Title, in a season that saw some very close and exciting contests, including the last ball of the game run out at Richmond to win the division. The penultimate match was also a ‘thriller’. Having been bowled out for 70 by North Middlesex wickets tumbled as Dan Amedee (5 – 20) and Jamie Thorpe (4 – 32) saw the Hill to victory and seal promotion as North Middlesex were dismissed for 66, thanks to a fine catch by skipper Adam Howorth on the boundary. Had he missed it things may have been very much different!
After coming close in 2011 to winning the Premier League at the first attempt after promotion, Winchmore Hill finally secured that elusive first Middlesex League Championship, after a terrific season in 2012. The League victory was secured at the home of previous Champions and League powerhouse Ealing, where an incredible bowling performance saw the Hill bowl the seven-times reigning champions out to win by 29 runs. The league winning total of 136 was the highest since the league was introduced and included 13 wins, the highest by any side to win the League.
Famous Former Players
The Hill has, for many years, had a thriving Colts section and several former colts have progressed to play First-Class cricket for the counties and universities including Colin Metson (Middlesex and Glamorgan), Graham Rose (Middlesex and Somerset), David Alleyne (Middlesex and Nottinghamshire) and Aaron Larraman (Middlesex). We have a few more promising players in out current squads of youngsters, so watch out for them in the future.
Later in the 1950s Fulham and England footballer Johnny Haynes played cricket and tennis at Winchmore Hill. Haynes was an accomplished batsman and also a competent wicketkeeper. He once scored a century against Chingford. It is rumoured that Haynes scored a hat-trick for Fulham, a century for Winchmore Hill and won the Winchmore Hill junior tennis singles championship all in one weekend. Cliff Holton (Arsenal) also played his cricket at Winchmore Hill. Needless to say he was quick in the field!
One hundred and thirty years with only two seasons away from the top flight is a record to be proud of, which all at Winchmore Hill are. Long may this continue.