St Albans Cricket Club : History

The cricket club in St Albans, has a long history. The club has been one of the premier clubs in the Hertfordshire league for many years and has regularly challenged for league honours. The earliest recorded match involving St Albans we have found dates back to 1805 when a combined Rickmansworth and Uxbridge took on St Albans in two day game in Cassiobury Park. The combined team were victors by an innings and 20 runs, despite St Albans fielding Frederick Beauclerk and Silver Billy Beldham. The following year a return match was played at Lords with almost the same sides competing again, however this time St Albans emerged victorious by 21 runs.

By the 1820s St Albans was considered the strongest club in the county, on the 30, 31 August 1828 St Albans challenged challenged the rest of Hertfordshire to a match at St Albans, justifying odds of 5 to 4 on them by winning by 4 wickets. At this time the shoe-maker brothers G. and J. Taylor were both fine batsmen, and J. Lacey an excellent bowler. Also playing at this time were Lord Grimston and Hon E.H. Grimston who batted at 8 and 9. A return match was played a fortnight later at Ware Park, which was won by t
he county by a similar margin. On 19 August 1830, the Mercury proclaimed St Albans as the Champions of the county, provoking the Welwyn Club's Secretary to issue a challenge to "play St Albans or any other club again and again". Welwyn had beaten St Albans once by 5 wickets and lost the return only by 2 runs, and were understandably unhappy about the Mercury's claim. St Albans brothers J. And G. Taylor responded to the Welwyn challenge by going to Welwyn, where they found the Welwyn club declined to play either at No Man's Land or at the St Albans (which according to the rules of cricketing the challenging parties were required to do). The brothers wrote to the Mercury expressing Welwyn's failure to play, and further stating : " We also beg to state we have no objection to play any two brothers for 5 or 10 pounds a side. We should prefer the two Otways. Our money is ready at the Bell Inn, St Albans." There was no record of any games having resulted from this letter.

The next few years saw a period of inactivity for the St Albans club. The Mercury was quick to point out " The town club, which but a season past, was so far famed as champion of the county, seems to be buried in oblivion, we know not whether from a lack of its patrons or a want of a proper unanimity between its players. While a few games were played over the next few years against Hatfield, and Redbourn, it was not unitl the late 1850s that the club regained its former reputation. In 1865 the club moved next to Christchurch on Verulam Road, where Worley Road now stands. At the same time the club introduced an unpopular rule "No person living in St Albans who is not a member of the Club will be admitted to the ground". This unorthodox method of increasing membership, was forced to be quickly withdrawn after it had the reverse effect. Needless to say, it is rather different, and everyone is welcome to come and watch the team play at Clarence Park. The present St Albans club dates from 1898, the Clarence cricket club renamed itself to St Albans Town CC, and began to hire the Clarence Park ground that we use today for their home matches.

The clubs most successful season of recent times was 1994. In this year the 1XI won the league, as did the 2XI, with the 3XI came close with 3rd place. We also won the Furnell Trophy, now known as the Becker Cup. For many years the club has been used as the counties home ground and the excellent facilities, and setting at Clarence park reflect this. Many cricketing greats have played at the Clarence park ground including Ian Botham. From 1989-1992 Shane Thompson played for the club before gaining a regular place in the New Zealand test side. Today's cricket is doubtless very different to that played at the beginning of the twentieth century, but I am sure it was every bit as competitive back then.

Taken in part from "Cricket in Hertfordshire" by R.G.Simons (president H.C.C.C) Thanks also to Jim Hind, Former Chairman St Albans Cricket Club.