Sheffield Cricket Club
|Sheffield Cricket Club|
|Established:||soon after 1751|
|Home venue:||Darnall cricket ground
|Notable players:||Tom Marsden|
The Sheffield Cricket Club was founded in the 18th century and soon became important to the development of cricket in northern England. The Sheffield club was the direct forerunner of Yorkshire County Cricket Club.
Earliest cricket in Yorkshire
The earliest known references to cricket in Yorkshire are in 1751. These relate to local matches in Sheffield and to a game on or soon after Mon 5 August at Stanwick, near Richmond, between the Duke of Cleveland’s XI and Earl of Northumberland’s XI (the same teams had earlier played in Durham and this is Durham's earliest cricket reference).
It is believed that the Sheffield Cricket Club was founded soon after that date and it began to play matches against teams from other northern towns, including some inter-county fixtures.
Sheffield quickly became the main centre for cricket in Yorkshire. In September 1757 a match took place between Wirksworth and Sheffield at Brampton Moor, near Chesterfield. This is the earliest reference to cricket in Derbyshire.
William White's History & General Directory of the Borough of Sheffield (1833) has the following information: "In 1757 we find the Town Trustees attempting the abolition of brutal sports by paying 14s6d to the cricket players on Shrove Tuesday to entertain the populace and prevent the infamous practice of throwing at cocks". Mr White does not give the primary source from which he himself derived the information but it would likely be in parish or town records of some kind which may or may not still exist.
Sheffield v Leeds
On Tuesday 7 July 1761, the Leeds Intelligencer (now the Yorkshire Post) announced a game to be played at Chapeltown the following Thursday (9 July) and this is the first game known to have been played in the Leeds area.
On Thursday 5 September 1765, the London Chronicle reported a "great match" on Monday 26 August: Leeds v Sheffield at Chapeltown Moor, near Leeds. Sheffield won "with great difficulty". As this game was highly rated and was reported by a London newspaper, it shows that cricket was well established in Yorkshire only 14 years after it was first reported there.
Sheffield v Nottingham
In August 1771, the first of many matches between Sheffield and Nottingham was held. This one took place on the Forest Racecourse at Nottingham and is surprisingly the earliest known reference to cricket in Nottinghamshire and involving a Nottinghamshire team. The result of the game is unknown because "of a dispute having arisen by one of the Sheffield players being jostled"! The reports mention a Sheffield player called Osguthorpe (sic) who "kept in batting for several hours together".
This match may tentatively be regarded as the beginning of county-level first-class cricket in Yorkshire. The Sheffield club was representative of the county in a similar fashion to Nottingham and (much later) Manchester. Although standards of play in the south were much higher than in the north at this time, the same scenario can be observed re the Hornchurch, Maidenhead, Chertsey, Dartford and Hambledon clubs in their respective counties.
In 1772, the Daily Messenger carried reports of a match in Sheffield on Monday 1 June in which Sheffield defeated Nottingham.
The Sheffield club continued to play occasional first-class matches, mainly against other northern clubs. In September 1833 occurred the first use of "Yorkshire" as the team name instead of "Sheffield". This was in the Yorkshire v Norfolk match at Hyde Park, Sheffield which Yorkshire won by 120 runs. The great Fuller Pilch was still playing for Norfolk. But Yorkshire was by now finding star players of its own, especially the fast bowling all-rounder Tom Marsden.
Although the Sheffield and Manchester clubs had met previously, there was a significant development on 23, 24 & 25 July 1849 when the match was called Yorkshire versus Lancashire at Hyde Park. This was the first match to involve a Lancashire county team and also, therefore, the first "Roses Match". Yorkshire won by 5 wickets.
In the winter of 1854, the club agreed to build a new ground on land near to Bramall Lane which they were to lease from the Duke of Norfolk for ninety-nine years. The first game played at Bramall Lane on 30 April 1855 between "The Eleven" and "The Twenty-two" resulted in the senior team losing by an innings and 28 runs.
On 7 March 1861, a Match Fund Committee to run Yorkshire county matches was established in Sheffield, which had by then been the home of Yorkshire cricket for nearly 100 years. It was from this fund that Yorkshire CCC was founded two years later. This was an exact parallel with the formation of Sussex CCC from a similar fund (1836–1839).
On 8 January 1863, the formation of Yorkshire County Cricket Club was agreed at a meeting of the Sheffield Match Fund Committee in the Adelphi Hotel, Sheffield. The club was originally based at Bramall Lane, Sheffield. Yorkshire CCC played its initial first-class match versus Surrey CCC at The Oval on 4, 5 & 6 June 1863. It was a rain-affected draw, evenly balanced.
For the history of Yorkshire cricket since the foundation of the current county club, see: Yorkshire County Cricket Club
Sheffield CC records (first-class matches only)
- Highest team total: 282 v Manchester, Botanical Gardens, Manchester, 1854
- Lowest team total: 39 v Nottingham, The Forest New Ground, Nottingham, 1829
- Highest individual innings: 125 by Tom Marsden v Nottingham, Nottingham, 1828
- Best bowling: 7–38 by Henry Wright v Manchester, Hyde Park Ground, Sheffield, 1852
- It is possible that cricket was played in North America before it reached Yorkshire. There are 17th century references to the game in America but the earliest known references to cricket in Yorkshire are as late as 1751.
- G. B. Buckley, Fresh Light on 18th Century Cricket, Cotterell, 1935
- From Lads to Lord's – 1757.
- H. T. Waghorn, The Dawn of Cricket, Electric Press, 1906
- G. B. Buckley, Fresh Light on Pre-Victorian Cricket, Cotterell, 1937
- Derek Birley, A Social History of English Cricket, Aurum, 1999
- Rowland Bowen, Cricket: A History of its Growth and Development, Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1970
- Arthur Haygarth, Scores & Biographies, Volume 1 (1744–1826), Lillywhite, 1862