The History of Effingham Cricket Club
19th Century: Early Recordings
The earliest known reference to cricket in Effingham is dated somewhere between 1839 and 1843. The Tithe Award was being processed during those years, and it was eventually finalised in 1843. The map shows a plot called ‘Cricketing field’ which is a plot south of the A246, associated with Warren Farm. The land is described as ‘Arable’ so we don’t know in what sense it was ‘Cricketing’.
The club was thought to be founded in 1853, but an item in the periodical Bell’s Life in London from the 26th July 1846 mentions ‘Effingham folk playing cricket’ in that same year. Bell’s Life in London reported matches all over the country, including:
‘EFFINGHAM AND HEADLEY SOCIAL – The return match between these elevens was played at Effingham on Wednesday, the 15th, but was not played out, night putting an end to the play, when Headley had 12 runs to get to equal their opponents, and one wicket to go down.’
(Gives Effingham’s total runs as 142 and names team members Hunt, Courts, Killick, Goldsmith and Edsor.)
Records from this time are scarce and it is very difficult to pinpoint any notable achievements of the members of those early years. However, the membership did increase to the extent that during the early 1900s, the club fielded teams on both Saturdays and Sundays. One prominent member of that time was Ralph Street, who is said to have known of the club being active for some years prior to this. After finishing his playing career, Ralph attended games until his final years and became the Club’s oldest member.
20th Century: Early Members
During the 1920s and 30s, playing members included Ralph Street, Edward Tyrrell, Maurice Waller and Albert Ranger and his son George. There are also records of a Jimmy Ranger (no relation) who was a regular umpire known as Jimmy Dover! George Ranger was born in Effingham Common in the early 1900s. His father, Albert, lived in a small cottage close to the present ground, and his grandfather lived in another cottage near to what is now ‘Wise Folly’. Both Albert Ranger and Jimmy’s father also played for the ‘Peewhits’ (the name given to the local players).
Early 20th Century: The Playing Field
For some time, cricket was played on various grounds, depending on where permission could be granted. The First World War of 1914-1918 understandably held up any cricket. The earliest ground that can be identified on the resumption of play was a meadow close to what was then a football ground, later to become the King George V Playing Field. When permission ceased here, play continued in a field belonging to Indian Farm. The next enforced move was to a field owned by a Miss Ross, later the site of council allotments.
Up until around 1920, Effingham Common had been an expanse of closely cropped grass from the many sheep and geese kept by residents, and by cattle from Lower Farm and Norwood Farm. The actual date is not known, but in the early 20th century informal play took place on the present site by local residents, without a proper club or equipment. The turf-like nature of the cropped grass meant that the players just rolled a pitch where it suited them, but [lay gradually ceased as the uncropped grass grew rough. An important stage came around 1930, when the Club was revitalised by a group of railway servants housed near Effingham Junction, and permission was obtained to play in Leewood Farm meadow.
A new Dennis mower was bought at a hefty sum of around £200 to maintain the field’s playable condition and a shed to house the machine was built by Mr. George Ranger and unknown others. The club had very meagre funds and much of what was necessary was supplied by the proceeds of whist drives – card competitions, arranged by Maurice Waller and others and held at The Halt (a cafe near the station, since demolished) and the Women’s Institute building in the village. These whist drives continued as a valuable source of income for many years.
1930s: Important Figures
In the early 20th century members included;
- Jack Smith, the Treasurer
- Ben Barnes, William Longhurst, Lloyd Pettit, Jimmy Ranger, all railway Servants
- William Shephercia, a builder from Guildford, later in Surrey Gardens
- Gordon Culley, a Solicitors clerk in Surrey Gardens and Treasurer before Jack Smith
- Reginald Topper, from the Midland Bank, Guildford and Chairman of the club for unknown number of years
- Charles Wells, occupation unknown
- Adrian Estler, a tree surgeon on Effingham Common, adjoining the ground
- Maurice Waller, then a boy of eleven whose father was Station Master at Effingham Junction, living at 2 Station Cottages, Effingham Junction, now the Station car park
It is important to recall that these railway men were servants of a once highly disciplined organisation, with poor pay and harsh conditions. Yet whether because of this or despite it, they were all proud of the service and their standards of work. All these older members, whether in Effingham or around the Junction, set a high moral standard which is a distinctive feature of the club we are all proud of.
Of all those who helped in the re-organisation and the later developments of the 1930s onwards, the man who has most to be remembered is Mr. Harry Trish, a Railway Servant himself. He initiated the Club’s plans and did more of the organisational and physical work than anyone else. For many years he was also a highly efficient and well-respected club secretary.
The next important stage, again initiated by Mr. Trish, came with negotiations with Mr. Robert Calburn, the then Lord of the Manor, the result of which being that a Tenancy agreement was entered dated the 1st December 1936. Here, the club was permitted to turn this corner of the common, where formerly the ‘Peewhits’ played, into a regular playing area. The club paid a rent of one shilling a year and Mr. Calburn contributed yearly, later agreeing to become a Patron of the club.
World War II
The Common was cleared by the Agricultural Commission for the purpose of growing crops and the cricket ground was taken over as a searchlight post. The playing area had suffered badly from lorries and other activities and the club was fortunate in being offered the work of prisoners of war to get it into playable shape again. After the war, the ground was left with a small sum as compensation, and with this a small corrugated iron shed with a let-down front was erected as a pavilion, together with two corrugated shacks in the copse for men and women. There were no other facilities of any kind and water for tea and washing up had to be fetched from houses several hundred yards away. Female members helped under very trying conditions, though everyone of those days spoke of the enjoyable times they had.
1950s: Relationship with Local Councils
In September 1954, Mr. Robert Calburn began negotiations for conveying a portion of the Common, together with a small area opposite the station used as a car park, to the Effingham Parish Council. The Council’s then Chairman Dr. Barnes Wallis accepted the gift and decided the ground should be incorporated with the King George V Playing Field Charity, of which the Council was Custodian Trustee only, and held the freehold. The Committee of Managing Trustees decided, however, that it already had too many responsibilities with the 32 acres of playing fields and that it could not cope with the additional responsibility for maintaining or developing the cricket ground.
The Cricket Club approved the gift at its annual general meeting on the 26e October 1954, and a letter of thanks was sent to Mr. Calburn in September 1954. Completion of the change of ownership and incorporation into the King George V Charity took place in May 1955, this all being arranged through the Parish Council and the King George V Committee of Management. The next stage came in the late 1950s, when Maurice Waller approached Dr. Charles T Sutton, a financial benefactor for assistance at a time of difficulty. The transfer to the Council had taken place without any official condition as to the club’s right to play there. Consequently, the Parish Council and the K.G.V Committee of Management would not recognise any official right of the club, nor grant them any certainty of lease, even though they were not forbidding play. The club felt they were almost dispossessed and were very uneasy regarding their future status. The investment in the ground by labour and even in the small pavilion was a highly important matter to such an under-financed club.
Dr. Sutton approached the Parish Council and held discussions with both them and the Committee of Management. However, certain prominent members insisted on what they took to be their full, unqualified rights of ownership and disposal. Dr Sutton then approached Mr. Calburn who confirmed his intentions that the club should play there in perpetuity if it remained a club and wrote a letter to the Parish Council stating as such.
The Council then agreed the right to a Lease, but not for more than 20 years and again a difficulty arose; they would not grant an automatic right to renewal. Eventually a Lease was agreed with the club at a rent of £1 per year (which has never been insisted on), but with an obligation on the club to maintain the ground in all respects and not to make any changes to it without official permission. Dr. Sutton insisted that a copy of Mr. Calburn’s letter was attached to the Lease.
Later on, Dr. Sutton joined the Committee of Management of the K.G.V Playing Field and become a member of the Parish Council, eventually becoming Chairman of each, meaning that he was always able to see to the club’s interests regarding these two bodies.
1950s: Building the Pavilion
The next important stage came when Mr. Maurice Waller approached Dr. Sutton to ask if there was a reasonable way to introduce toilets for female members. The result was that there was no real way of doing so without building a pavilion. The Surrey County Playing Fields Association (SCPFA) outlined the possibility of a 50% Grant towards developing the cricket ground to be made through Surrey County Council, provided that the S.C.P.F.A approved details of the scheme and checked its progress. The application, however, would have to go through the Parish Council as holders of the freehold and the Grant would have to be paid through them, which therefore involved all details being submitted through them.
Dr. Sutton submitted his plans to Mr. Waller and the club committee, adding an assurance that he would see to the raising of funds and advance all necessary sums to get things going in advance of the Grants, without any guarantee as to repayment by the club. This was approved in general by the club and it was around this time that Dr. Sutton was asked to become Chairman, being already a Vice President.
With the advantage of this and of his positions on (and knowledge of) both the Parish Council and the K.G.V, Committee of Management, there proved to be no difficulties in getting a progressive scheme, totalling around £5,000 through every necessary body, and a grant of 50% through the Parish Council agreed by the County Council, to be paid over when appointed stages in the development were reached and approved.
The rest of the funding was made up in various such ways as £400 donated by business friends of Dr Sutton, £200 given by the son of Sir Ernest Smith after his father’s death (the amount previously being a loan), £100 from the Effingham Parish Council, several generous sums from Mr. Calburn, a large number of smaller sums contributed by local people and organisations and numerous sums raised by the club from different members, club funds and by functions. All these funds were eventually paid back in full.
The basic project with the Grant was to buy a sectional cedar-wood pavilion and erect it much nearer to the side road than the existing building was, in order to facilitate access for services and cars. All this area, however, was very swampy and in parts three feet deep and with a small pond at the rear. To combat this, a rough level was made topped with a strong concrete raft. The sections were erected and eventually equipped by some of the members under the general directions of Maurice Waller.
Connection to the main sewer and the electrical supply was relatively easy, but the water supply in the road was too small, even for the requirements of the residents. A long-term campaign had to be undertaken in order to persuade the Water Company to bring an adequate line up from Lower Farm Road, to the benefit of the whole locality.
Acting as Chairman of the Parish Council, Dr. Sutton kept them informed of all developments in the club’s affairs. He gradually took a more intimate interest when it was realised that the club was a growing, successful social feature of the Parish and, through owning the ground, the Council had acquired full legal ownership of the pavilion but that ownership of the ground seemingly gave them no direct responsibility for any expense of maintenance or development. As a result, the council very willingly agreed to pay all future insurance of the pavilion and to make an annual grant of £50 towards maintenance costs, much as they contributed to maintenance of the main K.G.V playing field. The grant was later increased to £100, but then reduced to £50.
Later 20th century: Maintaining the Pitch
By the 1950s, the playing area overall was swampy and often unplayable if the weather was bad in Spring or Autumn. However, it was very successfully drained by long channels 2’3″ deep, lined with 3″ land drains and covered with wash shingle to within 6′ of the surface. These with many herring bone channels over the worst parts, were connected to a bottom 4″ main of similar construction which discharges into the side road ditch which was deepened and then connected to the council’s ditch along Effingham Common Road.
The rough hardcore surface of the rear car park was levelled, extended and largely surfaced through the kindness of Mr. D. Bristow, the Surrey County Divisional Surveyor. A large length of country type oak fencing was bought and erected in place of a very rough barbed wire, but nothing was erected on the boundaries. The exact lines of these were checked and agreed by the then Clerk to the Parish Council, Mr. C. E W. Crouch, a one-time playing member and eventual Parish Chairman in the early 2000s. In order not to offend local opinion by apparent enclosure of the common, the fencing had to not be wholly complete. In addition, an existing public footpath had to be recognised, starting from the car park entrance, passing in front of the pavilion and continuing through the copse diagonally across the joining the public bridle way up the west side of the common.
It is of interest to note that the common does not exist as a public right, but as ground subject to the rights conferred by the old deeds of certain cottages, such as the rights to pasture a certain number of animals or geese, and as a result, the area cannot be enclosed against them. Public rights are restricted to the public footpaths and bridle ways.
The long irregular ditch that formerly existed on the south side continuing along the boundaries was straightened, deepened and piped by large iron pipes supplied for free courtesy of the British Petroleum Refinery at the Isle of Grain, Kent. Previously, there was only a very narrow entrance to the cricket ground over some broken earthenware pipes, and the whole south side was then levelled over with chalk supplied again by the courtesy of the County Divisional Surveyor.
Unfortunately, there are no formal written records of the history of cricket in Effingham, and much of the content above has been pieced together by words from Dr Charles Sutton, Mr. Ralph Street and the recollections of Mr. George Ranger.
In 2015 Club President, Ray Pritchard, undertook the unenviable task of researching the history of Effingham Cricket Club. This was a lengthy piece of research since records are scarce and the club was founded in 1853.
The Club is also very grateful to Sue Morris who worked alongside Ray conducting a thorough examination of local records, culminating in a wonderful presentation at Effingham CC to celebrate Commoners Day 2018. Much of the material and information is drawn from the archives and resources of Effingham Local History Group, and from the research work of its members, which the Cricket Club is pleased to acknowledge.
The Club also wishes to place on record its sincere thanks to local historian, Rachel Roberts, who undertook the task of editing the content into a remarkably orderly composition that, alongside detailed input from Sue Morris, now stands as the authoritative history of Effingham Cricket Club.
Thanks are also due to Peter Collett, Clive Couzens, Eddie Crouch, Phil Dixon, Paul Gathercole and Adrian Tomlinson for their help along the way with a number of important details.
As always, the Club would be very keen to hear from anyone who has any information, records or photographs of anything or anyone connected with the history of the Club.