The Thaxted Cricket Club was formed in 1878 and cricket has been played on our council owned ground at Bardfield End Green continuously from that date except for a short period during the Second World War. We had to transfer to a meadow in Stambrook for these few years sharing it with cattle which had to be restrained from the wicket by a wire fence during the week. Fielding was quite hazardous trying to avoid the “cow pats” especially when going for a catch!. The reason we had to vacate the Bardfield End Green site was to enable the ground to be used for growing crops to help the war effort. It was not long after the war however that the ground was levelled off and re-planted with grass with normal services returning.
Facilities were very spartan with a large tent being used as changing rooms and the Butchers Arms pub which sat on the side of the ground allowing us to use their toilets which consisted of a corrugated urinal and an outside ‘Elsan’ Although the ground is quite small it was even smaller then with a pond with a hedge surrounding it on the outfield just outside the pub. A fire hydrant was also inside the boundary and was a further obstacle to manoeuvre around.
In those days all the players were very local and the standard of cricket (although there were many very good players) was not as good as was to follow. A pavilion was built but was very basic an in the late 1950’s a Ladies Section was set up to raise money to build a new one. In its’ day it was very well equipped but was later modernised by necessity to include showers and new toilets until it was substantially extended in 2010
As with most clubs we have seen the standard of cricket vary. In 60’s and 70’s we had a very strong side playing many of the top teams in the area and beating just about everyone. These would include Saffron Walden, Bishops’ Stortford, Southend and many of the outer London sides. Because of our very pretty ground everybody wanted to play us, and they still do!
A few weeks after England won the Football World Cup in 1966 West Ham United brought down a side which included Bobby Moore, Martin Peters and Geoff Hurst, all members of that winning team along with their other West Ham players. One of our playing members, Dick Bass had a close association with the Club and entertained the two teams with a party in a huge marquee on his lawn beside the ground. This fixture was played again in 1967. And we think there must have also been a match in 1965 as the photo below has been dated probably from that year by a West Ham historian.
Thaxted vs West Ham United 1965
Hugh Craig, later to be our president was captain and knew many of the Essex County cricketers and invited them down to play us on several occasions. One game in 1973 Keith Fletcher ex England captain and manager brought a very strong Essex X1 to help with Keith’s Benefit. Bales of straw were placed around the ground which attracted a very large crowd. Thaxted gave them a very good game and were only narrowly beaten.
One of our star players of that period was Brian Wood who achieved a record feat of taking a “double hatrick” (six wickets in six consecutive balls) and this feat made back page headline news in all the national papers. He is part of 4 generations of cricketing Woods with his father, son and grandson representing the Club. There have been so many fine cricketers, far too many to mention but the one man who was the backbone of those halcyon days was Fred Day. He was an outstanding all-rounder, the Club groundsman and in his later days turned to umpiring. He was also a true sportsman loved and admired by fellow members and opponents.
The Club has won several honours including the Davies Cup twice and the Boardman Cup. Over the past decade the Club has progressed with the setting up of the Junior Section and over these years has had a Junior membership of over 50 children. Both the Under 12’s and Under 15’s have teams playing in the Bardfield League. The Senior side entered the Herts and Essex League in 2005.
In 2010 after many fund raising events and with the help of grants a new pavilion was built giving us a new kitchen and bar, new changing rooms and showers and now giving the people of Thaxted a cricket club to be proud of.