Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

We Are Proud To Be 150 Years Old Today – And Here’s To The Next 150!

We Are Proud To Be 150 Years Old Today – And Here’s To The Next 150!

Worcestershire CCC is today proudly celebrating its 150th anniversary and it all began at the Star Hotel – now under the name of the Whitehouse Hotel – in Foregate Street, Worcester.

A meeting was called "for the promotion of the much required Worcestershire County Cricket Club" under the chairmanship of the Lord Lieutenant for the County, Lord George Lyttelton.

And thus Worcestershire CCC was born with Lord Lyttelton becoming the club's first president.

There had been a team representing Worcestershire for around 20 years previously, twice playing an England X1 at Powick Ham and in the Tything at a ground behind the Talbot Inn.

There is a record of Worcestershire and Shropshire meeting in a match on Hartlebury Common in 1844 and a series of matches were played at Ombersley three years later.

But then the 'City' and 'County' clubs amalgamated in 1855 and played predominantly on Pitchcroft until Worcestershire CCC was officially formed 10 years later.

The first match under the official Worcestershire CCC name was staged on April 29, 1865 against Bromsgrove School and two members of the Lyttelton family played major roles in the county triumphing.

The Hon C. G. Lyttelton scored 102 out of a first innings total of 163 and his brother S. G. Lyttelton picked up seven wickets as the school were dismissed for 62 as Worcestershire triumphed by eight wickets.

During that first season Worcestershire faced opposition which included Shropshire, Malvern College and Warwickshire.

It was at this juncture that the county moved to the Pleasure Gardens ground, Boughton which was to be their home ground for the next three decades.

The accounts book for 1865 shows the expenditure in Worcestershire CCC's first year amounted to, when converted into today's currency, £38.14p!

There was sufficient interest for a Second Eleven to be formed in 1867.

Then three years later the famous WG Grace was recruited by Worcestershire to play against the United North Of England and scored 74 and 38 in his side's victory.

The following year a famous name was included in the Worcestershire side – the Reverend H. Foster who was the father of the famous clan of brothers who would go onto play for the county in another era.

A Worcestershire Cricket Week was staged for several years, combining matches with theatricals and concerts in the evenings, sometimes involving several of the county's players!

The Hon. CJ Coventry impressed sufficiently to be chosen for the MCC trip to South Africa in 1889-90 – the first Worcestershire player to go on tour.

Around the same time Paul Foley became county secretary and he was to have a major role in Worcestershire's progress forward.

From 1895 the cricket became more competitive after Foley helped found the Minor Counties Championship. He was the first secretary of that competition.

The dynamic Foley was also determined to ensure Worcestershire were of a sufficient standard to participate in this competition and he arranged for the employment of professional cricketers combined with talented amateurs.

Worcestershire shared the title in the competition's first year with Durham and Norfolk but won it outright in 1896, 1897 and 1898.

The likes of HK and RE Foster, GH Simpson-Hayward, GE Bromley-Martin, AW Isaac, Albert Bird, Fred Wheldon, who also played football for Aston Villa, Tom Straw, Dick Burrows, Fred Bowley and Ted Arnold were part of this first golden era for Worcestershire cricket.

As the 20th century approached, it was the launchpad for Worcestershire to apply for and secure first class status – and the rest, as they say, is history.

From the days being called 'Fostershire' in the early 1900s to a golden period of five County Championship titles – and many more one-day trophies – in a 25 year period from the 1960s to the 1980s, there is much to admire.

Now fittingly Director of Cricket Steve Rhodes, who featured in two of those Championship title triumphs, has ensured the 150th year will be played out in Division One of the Championship.

He was also at the helm when the county's famous fighting spirit came to the fore as we overcame the summer floods of 2007 to win the Pro40 title that year without playing a single game at New Road.

Many of the world's greatest players have graced the club – Ian Botham, Kapil Dev, Imran Khan and Glenn McGrath to name but four.

And the likes of Tip Foster – the only person to captain England at football and cricket – Tom Graveney, Basil D'Oliveira, Glenn Turner and Graeme Hick have become New Road legends.

There is so much to be proud of since that meeting at the Star Hotel and the the good thing is that the future is looking bright on and off the field with new facilities such as The View and a young and talented squad.

Here's to the next 150 years!