THE HISTORY OF BCCC

THE GROUND

Since its formation in 1889, and to the present day, the club has played cricket at 'The Grove'.

The earliest recorded match played on Bromley Common dates back to 30th July 1735 played between a Kent side and London Cricket Club. Kent won by 10 wickets after scoring 97 and 9-0 in reply to London's 73 and 32. The report of this match states that “A large crowd attended and a great deal of mischief was done. It seems that horses panicked and riders were thrown, while some members of the crowd were stamped over. One man was carried off for dead as HRH passed by at the entrance to the Common”. HRH at the time was Frederick, Prince of Wales, first in line to the Throne of England. Unfortunately he died, some say after being hit by a cricket ball, before he could be crowned King. He was a keen patron of cricket, and attended many matches.


Bromley Common was used for major cricket matches on at least a dozen occasions between 1735 and 1752. Kent played seven matches, four of which were against 'All England' sides. The last major match known to have been played was on 30th June 1752. In 1748 a famous single-wicket match also took place between two of the best players in the country: Mr Mills, a Bromley bookmaker and Kent player, and T.Faulkener of London.

Bromley Common’s early cricket ground is believed to have been in the area of Brick-Kiln Lane (now Holmesdale Road), where a connection can be made with the local game and the Norman family. George Warde Norman (1793 to 1882) mentioned in his memoirs that he played there. He was a member of a family which had extensive lands around the south of Bromley, including Bromley Common. The Norman family name is continued locally, with a large local park being named after the family.

Following the Napoleonic War, and Napoleon’s defeat in Russia in 1812, cricket began a revival in England. A new ground was established on Princes Plain, Bromley Common, under the name of Princes Plain Cricket Club. The club’s first treasurer was George Warde Norman, who also played for Eton. He worked abroad between 1817 and 1824, and took up cricket again when he returned, winning a place in the Kent side which he kept until well into his forties. The infamous Enclosure Act of 1821 prevented cricket from being played at Princes Plain, and the club moved to Chislehurst, changing its name to West Kent Cricket Club.

CLUB FORMATION

Bromley Common Cricket Club was formed, with its home at The Grove, a piece of land on the extensive Norman family estate.

Rent on the ground was agreed as “one shilling” per annum for as long as cricket was played on the ground. This continued until 1980 when the club bought the freehold from Rookery Estates. This ground continues to be the club’s home.

In 1904, Archibald Cameron Norman gave up a large area of land in Hayes Lane on a generous long lease as a sports ground for Bromley Football Club and Bromley Town Cricket Club, an area still in use by both clubs today. The Norman family have in the past been very generous to sporting clubs in the area.

1940'S

During this decade, the club consisted of three sides. A strong Sunday team, and two Saturday sides. The Sunday team played mainly at home against established local teams (whose main strength was then for Saturdays) and against wandering sides. Our Saturday side played both home and away against good strength local teams, playing on both private and recreation grounds. With few cars then available, travel to and from cricket grounds was by public transport.

During this period the club was honoured to stage a benefit match for Leslie Ames, the Kent and England wicketkeeper. A Bromley Common XI played against the full Kent side.

The ground then consisted of a small field, with a main square for cricket, two tennis courts, and a wooden pavilion along the west side of the ground, next to the River Ravensbourne. No sanitation was available and only one water pipe was available for use in the kitchen and for watering the field and cricket square.

1950'S

This decade saw the formation of our Sunday second XI. At this time league cricket developed, which meant better facilities and additional Saturday commitments, which the club were unable to provide. As a result, we could not compete with other Kent teams, such as Maidstone, Bickley Park and Bromley, sides who were then supplying players to the Kent side.

During this period the club approached the Norman Estate for an improved tenancy agreement, with the club being delighted by the outcome of a longer lease at the same rent of one shilling (5p) per year for a hundred years. The tennis club disbanded at this time, although the tennis courts were visible until the late 1970’s.

1960'S

With the season about to start in 1963, the pavilion was subject to an arson attack, making it unusable. The club used caravans for temporary accommodation, and a season of cricket followed.

Efforts were made to raise money, but the fund was well below the amount needed to build a new pavilion from scratch. Some insurance money was available, and with the loaning out of the playing field, enough money was secured to build a pavilion from scratch, with members providing the labour. A concrete base was installed, new walls and roof erected, along with electricity, water, gas, showers and a telephone. A kitchen was equipped, and improved bar and social areas provided. The pavilion was located next to the River Ravensbourne, out of public view, but unfortunately vandalism continued which required constant maintenance.

1970'S

With the pavilion falling in to disrepair and the ground not being looked after, the club abandoned home matches and played as a wandering side. The club at that time forged a link with Old Charlton Park Cricket Club, taking over some fixtures and gaining some of their players.

The club decided that the ground and pavilion had to be recovered. A partnership was set up with Raglan Rangers Football Club and a football pitch was marked out, football being played (across the cricket square!) in the winter, with cricket in the summer. An ambitious plan was put together for three football pitches and a cricket square, resulting in the purchase of the cricket ground and additional land from Norman Estates, under the name of “The Grove Sports Club”, with the football and cricket clubs retaining their names. A new water main trench was dug by hand by the members from Oakley Road to the clubhouse so that water could be re-supplied.

1980'S

Cricket was rapidly changing, with league cricket dominating Saturday fixtures. The club continued to play friendly matches whilst it sought membership of a local league. Membership of the North Kent League was secured, and the club prospered. Our ambition became to join the Kent League, an ambition which meant more improvements to the ground and pavilion.

Orpington Nomads Cricket Club were absorbed into Bromley Common Cricket Club, forming the basis for a Sunday second XI, bringing additional players to the club.

During the “Great Storm” of 1987 an enormous oak tree was blown over by the hurricane and crashed through the best appointed part of the clubhouse, our newly renovated bar, destroying it. Planning permission was sought for a new pavilion, with money to be borrowed from the bank. Approval was not granted on the then site of the pavilion as it was considered to be too close to the river. Plans were then approved for a new pavilion, and a new one erected. This pavilion has been in use to date. Our flag pole was erected, and a new scorebox was built.

We celebrated our centenary in 1989, with a celebratory annual dinner at Bromley Town Hall. A number of teams were invited to our cricket week, most notably an XI made up of former England players.

1990'S

The club was by now running four sides on Saturday and two on a Sunday. Cricket standards improved, several league titles were won, finally leading to admission to the Kent League.

On 6 August 1996 the club were invited to take part in a match against Hayes Cricket Club in Norman Park in a full period re-enactment of a game played on Hayes Common in 1804, following laws from that period. Wickets were 1 foot high and two foot wide, with two stumps and one cross stump (bail). Batsmen could only be out caught or run out, bats were curved and looked more like hockey sticks, and runs were tallied using a stick with notches cut out as runs were scored. The wicket had a shallow hole scooped out under the cross stump, and runs were scored by reaching the other wicket and placing the bat in the wicket hole. A run out occurred if the wicket keeper managed to put the ball in the hole before the bat. Bromley Common Cricket Club won by a narrow margin.

Raglan Rangers Football Club disbanded, although the name was retained as part of the Grove Sports Club. Severe financial problems were experienced as the club, by now just a cricket club, fought to pay its way and survive. Part of the very large debt was paid off by selling four acres of land (now the field by the cottage). Members rallied round, money was found, debts were slowly paid, a very successful “100 Club” formed, and the club struggled on financially whilst doing very well on the field.

During this period, a junior section was also formed. It has proved to be very successful, winning leagues and cups, and has produced many fine cricketers who now play in our first team. A set of three wicket roll on covers were purchased, and an artificial wicket laid next to the square.

2000'S

The financial situation improved and the club was able to repay its outstanding bank mortgage on the freehold meaning it was now debt free for the first time.

In 2006, the club became the 15th club in Kent (of 359 affiliated to the KCB) to achieve ClubMark status, in recognition of its efforts to ensure a child-friendly environment and commitment to long term junior player development.

In 2007, the club secured funding to purchase £30k outdoor net facilities.

In 2008, the club became the 38th club in Kent to achieve Focus Club status, confirming BCCC's position as a strategic partner of the KCB. A new Bromley Common Cricket Club constitution was voted in at the AGM to replace the existing Grove Sports Club constitution.

In 2009, the club acquired land adjacent to the existing ground on a long term lease from Rookery Estates. Club members pitched in to turn the field into 'The Acorns' in just 6 months. The pitch was opened by club president Bill Bassett and Leader of Bromley Council Stephen Carr with both the opening ceremony and inaugural match being held on 19th April 2009. Funding was sourced to purchase sightscreens and mobile wicket covers for the new pitch.

In 2014 the Club reached the highest league position in its history by coming 3rd in the Kent League Division 1, just missing out on promotion to the Premier League. To win the Kent League Premier Title remains the club's main aim and to continue to enhance its reputation as a friendly and successful club. The junior section continued to grow in numbers and achievements winning several titles in the North Kent Junior League.

EARLY MATCHES

Wednesday 30 July 1735
Kent v London
Bromley Common, Bromley, Kent

Kent by 10 wickets
Scores: London 73 & 32; Kent 97 & 9-0.



Wednesday 6 July 1737
Kent v London & Surrey
Bromley Common, Bromley, Kent

Kent won by an innings
Kent “maintained their honour, and beat their adversaries at one hands.” The match was completed in a day.



Monday 9 July 1739
Kent v All-England
Bromley Common, Bromley, Kent

Kent won.
This is the first known instance of a team representing All-England. The match was billed as between “eleven gentlemen of that county (i.e., Kent) and eleven gentlemen from any part of England, exclusive of Kent”. Kent, described as “the Unconquerable County” won by a very few “notches (runs)”.



Monday 16 May 1743
Kent v London, Middlesex & Surrey
Bromley Common, Bromley, Kent

LM&S won (Kent forfeited)
Scores at eight o'clock pm: LM&S 97 & 112-3; Kent 69. Play was due to continue next day but Kent “gave it up”. The LM&S team was also described as Lord Montford's XI. Lord Montford was a noted patron of the game. The Kent side was organised by Lord John Philip Sackville.



Friday 24 June 1743
Chislehurst & Bromley v London
Bromley Common, Bromley, Kent

C&B won “with difficulty”.
It was specified beforehand that the game is to be played out, presumably to emphasise a main clause in the articles which were drawn up to define the terms of the wager. In any case, it was completed on the first day of play.




Friday 24 May 1745
Bromley v London
Bromley Common, Bromley, Kent
Bromley won



Friday 12 July 1745
Kent v All-England
Bromley Common, Bromley, Kent
Kent won
Played for a thousand guineas.



Monday 12 May 1746
Bromley v Addington
Bromley Common, Bromley, Kent
Addington won



Saturday 2 August 1746
Kent v All-England
Bromley Common, Bromley, Kent
result unknown
Originally scheduled for the previous day but postponed because “it was impossible for the noblemen and gentlemen to be present on the Friday”.



Wednesday 2 September 1747
Kent v All-England
Bromley Common, Bromley, Kent
result unknown



Thursday 1 August 1751
Bromley v Dartford
Bromley Common, Bromley, Kent
result unknown



Tuesday 30 June 1752
Bromley v London
Bromley Common, Bromley, Kent
match drawn
London scored 52 and 92; Bromley replied with 60 and were 52 for 5 when play ended, presumably because of rain.
The precise venue was the “White Hart” field on Bromley Common. Stakes were £50 a side. Bromley had J Mansfield (Sevenoaks) and Howard (Kent) as given men.

 

©2021 by Bromley Common Cricket Club