New club history articles will be posted here as and when time permits, so keep checking back for updates.
Our thanks go the Club Historian Peter Edwards for his hard work in supplying this information. If anyone has anything they think may be of interest or importance to the history of the Club they should contact Peter. Please do so using the webmaster email.
The club has a long and established pedigree within the local area, steeped in history and tradition. However, the club has survived for over 200 years because of its policies, dedication, tenacity, its love of the game and its structured approach to the management of such an organisation. In more recent times the emphasis has been on youth, we now boast probably one of the youngest 1st XI’s in any local Senior League, certainly in terms of age, average age is approx. 24.
However, what they may lack in years they certainly make up for in cricketing experience, with over half of the side consisting of players who have ‘come up through the ranks’ so to speak. This proves that the youth policy laid down in the late 1970’s does work and we continue to put a lot of effort into this area of the club.
From the original Chelmsford Chronicle on Friday August 22nd 1783 ‘On Tuesday the 26th instant a match of cricket will be played at Mrs Barkers at the Green Man Navestock between the Gentleman of Hornchurch and Ingatestone for one guinea each man. Wicket is to be pitched at ten o’clock’.
So reads the first recorded reference to Hornchurch cricket. No actual results exist for this match, but cricket is still played opposite the Green Man at Navestock. It is known that the club was playing regularly and winning games by the following year. By the middle of the 18th century cricket was beginning to establish itself as a major sport in England and the formation of the Hambledon club in Hampshire, famed as the cradle of cricket, is recorded in the late 1760’s.
Hornchurch, is indisputably, one of the earliest pioneers of cricket in Essex. The village of Hornchurch was an early sporting centre, much as it is now with the swimming pool and Sports Centre. Annual wrestling matches for the prize of a boar’s head took place, along with cock-fighting and prize-fighting. The first home of the newly formed cricket club was Langtons Park which within fifty years was destined to entertain the MCC and to become a notable focus for local and regional attention.
The 1800’s saw the golden era of cricket at the club with an unbeaten run of seven years, ending in 1829. In 1889 the clubs ground was at Grey Towers Park where they played until the outbreak of war in 1914. The pitch was used during the Great War for army billeting, and could not be restored at the end of the hostilities, so a field in Wingletye Lane was used until 1925 when the club was offered a ground in front of Fairkytes, Billet Lane now the Queens Theatre. Play continued there uninterrupted until 1944. The local council had plans for the development of the area, and the club was offered a new pitch at Harrow Lodge which they reluctantly accepted and moved across to in around 1954. This is where it still resides to this day.
There are many stories, anecdotes, and tales to tell from the past 200 years, too many to tell in this short period. During our bicentennial year a brochure was produced charting the history of the club, a copy of which is available upon request.