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Brentmoor road, 1904. The "Hare And Hounds is left, our old ground
is in front (more)
It is known that cricket has been
played in the village (although not quite continuously) from the
mid-to-late nineteenth century onwards in one form
or another. The clubs' original ground, for a long time known as the "Cricket Green"
can be found in Brentmoor
road (once a main route over West End Common to Frimley) opposite
where the Hare and Hounds public house stands today. This area was known locally as "Turner's Plat", Turner being
a long-standing local name.
remains unknown as to when the first proper game of cricket was played there.
However, a Surrey Journal report from around 1850 mentions a game on the Green with the inference
cricket may been played there from even earlier times. Players changed
and had tea in the pub, then still known under its previous name of the
Titch Tavern. Before long, it was re-named the
Hare And Hounds - as the local Hunt sometimes met on the
Green, this may explain the name change. Either way the building was ideally
situated for twenty-two tired and
thirsty cricketers to retire to after a game, well illustrated in the photograph
Moving on to the 1870's, "West End Cricket Club" gets
mentioned by name in documented
evidence unearthed from local newspaper archives. Then in 1879,
a major evolution was forced upon the club - the year when the
Military took over West End Common to the west of the village, which
excluded the commoners in the process. Immediately following this we
find the existence of a
"West End & Bisley United" cricket club, and that is
exactly as it was printed. Sometime later the club regained its own
identity. As a club in a small, evolving but scattered village of
relatively little importance in the County-wide scheme of things little
reporting appears to have been done (let alone survive) unless a team of note came to West End.
What we do know is that early cricket games were low scoring probably
due to the condition of ground or players or even both. Anyone
finishing a game with a score of four had done well and we suspect in
those days, a lot of grounds were that good!
"Old Cricket Green", 2002. Click the picture for a
West End Common was only part of a huge
swathe of heathland on which the Green and indeed the village was set. Unfortunately the
very nature of the earth with its underlayer of clay meant the ground suffered from poor
drainage, a problem that still affects the area. Perhaps this goes some way
to explain certain gaps in cricket history in the village, natural breaks such as two World Wars
notwithstanding. Streets Heath itself was a typical wet heath which
had evolved through
centuries of mans' use. After the second World War a seven-acre patch south of Holy Trinity
church was cleared to create a Recreation Ground.
Although nothing of the
German fighter that crashed there during the war turned up, tons of rubbish
exhumed and even today people remember
the sight of the huge steam-driven machinery used to clear the area. The
cricket club set up home on this gently sloping reclaimed land while
players used the Working Men's' Club for teas and changing facilities. A
rare photograph from the 1950's shows a game in progress on a fairly
bare ground area. Respected ex-player Adrian
Elson, whose wife Betty was fixture secretary for some time
was once moved to remark that his generation of the club "...marked the pitch out
wherever it was
dry on the day!", indicating the continuing battle with drainage in the area.
artificial strip. Players are beheaded in the original photo
modern Pavilion, originally opened in 1968 naturally became our adopted
clubhouse; it was later enlarged somewhat in the 1990's. By 1974 the remaining trees and scrub
that stretched east toward Benner Lane had been cleared, enlarging the Recreation Ground to its
current size in the process. The club made its final move to this
freshly-cleared area, the football club moving to the area vacated to the west.
Adrian Elson and Alan Hull
(our 2001 Chairman) dug deep both physically and financially to place
drains underneath the square. On this an artificial wicket
was laid - the first in Surrey. The
southern half of the 'rec' was still prone to sogginess with occasional light flooding
especially in the south-east corner where the pond is situated.
(Incidentally, this pond feeds a stream which is now underground and
follows south along the course of Brentmoor road.) This was tackled
when a more comprehensive
drainage system was installed that covers the majority of the outfield
area. It worked well and still does, except when the weather really had it in
for us; one season in the early
1990's actually made it into June before the outfield completely dried out.
Then, of course, the record
rainfall over autumn & winter 2000/01 completely saturated it once
again and delayed laying the new pitch.
The colts team was well
established with the occasional player making the senior side which, during the
mid to late 1980's, could be chosen from the following squad (although typical
availability meant hardly dropping anyone) -