Tony Wimbush Reflects...
Thatcham Cricket Club
A Potted History
No records exist that show exactly when Thatcham Cricket Club first played although there are indications that the first matches were played c.1767.
According to leading MCC historian T.Waghorn, in his book The Dawn of Cricket, reference is made to a match between the Gentlemen of Thatcham and The Gentlemen of Aldermaston being played at Thatcham Marsh on July 19th 1786. A report on the fixture includes the comment 'the experienced Thatcham club won with ease'. In the same year it is recorded that a 'match of cricket between 2 gentlemen for a considerable sum' also took place. How or what rules were played is unknown although the report surmises that the loser ran 25 miles and the winner 20 in the course of play!
Other references to early cricket matches also include details of a 'local derby' between Thatcham and Newbury, again for a 'considerable sum' on July 9th 1789.
Thatcham cricket club was known as Thatcham Victoria for most of the Queens reign but returned to Thatcham Cricket Club in 1902.
The Marshes, situated at Dunston Park, was Thatcham C.Cs home until 1921 when the club moved to a ground on the east side of Park Lane. In 1925 the club relocated to a site on the west side of Park Lane just a 100 or so yards where the ground is today. This ground was shared with Thatcham Football Club. The first purpose built pavilion was erected on this site in 1934.
This ground was Thatchams home until the outbreak of World War II when the land was ploughed up for the growing of produce to aid the war effort. After the war the cricket club re-established itself on the War Memorial Sports Ground, an area of land owned by a Mr A.R Brown, a former cricket club secretary and situated another 300 or so yards further west of its former site.
The playing area was purchased for the cricket clubs use by it's President of many years standing Mr A.S. B Tull, Squire of Chamberhouse, for approximately £500. Thatcham cricket club also donated £125 towards the cost of laying and preparing the square for season 1947. The old pavilion was physically moved to it's new home where it would remain for the duration of cricket on this site.
Led by a hardcore working party of messrs C.P. Barr, L.R Austin, J.Wheeler, E.Lane and J.Brooks, the members produced a first class playing area.
The entire sports ground was then generously sold by A.R Brown to the newly formed Memorial Hall & Playing Field Association soon after at a price well below market value in an effort to aid sport in Thatcham. In return the MHPF would provide a full time groundsman and no rent would be charged to clubs. Thatcham cricket flourished on this excellent ground and hosted full Berkshire County matches as well as prestigious benefit matches including a fixture on behalf of the Bedser twins in 1956 where a crowd estimated at over 1,000 witnessed a first class match.
The sixties continued to see Thatcham Cricket Club flourish. Leading members such as P.Holloway, A.Nix, J.A.H Wimbush, G.A Hartley, B.Spanswick and N.S Peel ensured the club maintained it's high standing.
The WMPF accepted an offer to transfer management to Parish and Town councils in 1972 and Thatcham Cricket Club then had to start paying rent for a facility they had technically owned and also had to provide any specialist assistance to the upkeep of the square. With the building of a new housing estate to the north of the site and with the area now open as a public park the cricket clubs ground and fortunes rapidly went into decline. So much so that an EGM was called in 1975 to determine if the club should continue or fold.
A rallying call was made and a new committee under the new name of Thatcham Town Cricket Club was formed. Led by prominent members C.W.Fry and A.P Wimbush the club survived and began to turn the corner. Gradually fortunes changed, new players joined and others returned. C.Gourlay began the first Colts section in 1977 and B.L.S Way researched and wrote the first history of the club in 1978.
In 1982 Thatcham Town Cricket Club moved to it's current site adjacent to the old ground and named after the former land owner as Browns Sports Field. Now aided by such enthusiastic members as V. Pye, F.H. Bird, D.G Eggbeer, G.A Tillen, G.Stewart, N.J. Cornish, P.Boyce, E.Denness and S.L Vaughan the club began to grow and re-establish itself on the cricketing map. For the first 16 years Thatcham shared Brownsfield with various social football clubs but took over the lease in 1998. With no football to contend with the club immediately set about a fervent programme of ground improvements and were rewarded in 2000 with it's first full Berkshire County match in over 40 years with a fixture versus Wiltshire.
Major alterations to the pavilion then took place during Easter 2002 providing Thatcham Town Cricket Club with an excellent playing area and impressive clubhouse.