A History of Kimpton Cricket Club.
On the 22nd August 1799, at team of cricketers from Kimpton played a team from Datchworth at Gustard Wood. The first recorded game involving players from Kimpton. This early interest in the game in the parish of Kimpton would have been due to the appointment in 1797 of Lord Frederick Beauclerk as Vicar. An aristocrat and titan of the early game, he played 82 times for an England XI and was the leading player of his day. In his first summer as Kimpton’s Vicar he played 17 first class (mainly 3 day) games. The taking of many services would have been delegated to a curate, but he must have spent at least some time in the parish and passed on his enthusiasm for the game to the local gentry and gentleman farmers. The 22nd June 1814 saw the inaugural game at the Thomas Lord’s third ground, when the home of the MCC moved to St John’s Wood, where of course it has remained. This game saw 4 players from Kimpton take the field. Lord Frederick captained the MCC and 3 Kimpton players were in the Hertfordshire XI that provided the opposition (Bruton, Sibley and Crew). Bruton, a fine bat with a century (a feat in that age) against Hatfield to his credit farmed Kimpton Hall, where the current Chairman now lives!
At which point the playing of cricket became formalised into a club is not known. There is a rare recorded game on the 28th June 1879, where Kimpton lost to King’s Walden. The Coleman family (2 players in 1879), link that game, to a photograph of a victorious team from July 9 1892. This team had given Digswell a good hiding (scoring 325 runs) and the photograph has 3 Coleman’s. Including JE Coleman who played in the 1879 and is elected captain in the first surviving minute book from 1908. His son William (Bill) is also present in both 1892 and 1908, as is a somewhat portly J Coleman. The Umpire in 1892 and groundsman and coach in 1908. Thus, based on folk memory the year of foundation is given as 1880. Bill Coleman might lay claim to being Kimpton’s best player. He was born in the Boot in 1878 and was a regular player for Hertfordshire as well as Kimpton. A formidable bowler he took 5 wickets for Hertfordshire on 51 occasions whilst scoring 21 50’s and 1 century. His final tally for Hertfordshire was 619 wickets at an average of 18.11 runs per wicket with best bowling of 8 for 33. He also scored 3885 runs for Hertfordshire.
The victorious team of 9th July 1892
The original ground for Kimpton was on the recreation ground behind the Dacre Rooms. This was not flat. Kimpton was a strong and successful club in this time. The president was Viscount Hampden, who lived at Temple Dinsley (Preston) but would walk to Kimpton to play for the club. In 1912 the club amalgamated with “the Hoo” club. This and the division of the equipment between the 2 club’s is the only reference to two club’s in the Village. We can only speculate, but presumably a club also operated out of Kimpton Hoo, which was then a large stately home. Despite the merger the club did not feel it could run a team in 1913. The war then intervened but the club retained subscribers and by 1920 is playing again. Viscount Hampden is still president and vice-president’s included George Bernard Shaw and by 1930 Harold Macmillan. He was a good friend of Viscount Hampden and regular visitor to Kimpton to watch cricket. As during the interwar years the club regularly fielded two teams, participation wise the club had “never had it so good”. Charlie Smith was the captain serving for a remarkable 14 seasons. The club minutes have a familiar feel, with the main discussion being on ground maintenance and the recruiting of tea ladies.
A Kimpton team from the 1930's
Of course, the war interrupted the club again, with no cricket played between 1940 to 1945. By 1946, the club was getting back on its feet but the old ground on the recreation ground was unfit to play on. Mr C H Harding offered a ground at the Hoo and offered to prepare a wicket for a game in the last Saturday in August. This was taken and the club moved home to the Hoo. The indomitable Charlie Smith arranged for pavilion to be moved from the Recreation ground to the Hoo. The 1950’s was a strong decade for the club for the war. In 1950 they managed p34, W16, L10, D8, a post war record. The 1960’s started well, but a new generation was not coming through and the number of fixture’s was reduced. In 1967, the club’s Annual General Meeting discussed whether it should continue. The motion carried unanimously by the 13 members present, but the club struggled that summer. However, by 1968, the developments of Dacre Crescent and then Parkfield brought numerous new players into the village. The club prospered in the 1970’s, hosting several charity games against celebrity opposition. In 1977, the club started its Annual tour of Kent in Whitsun week. This tradition continued to the early 90’s.
Up to this point,
the author has been able to rely on the reference works Cricket in
Hertfordshire and the History of Kimpton Cricket Club published for the
centenary year in 1980. The rest must be done from memory and the author only
started his association with the club in 1989. At some point in the early
1980’s it became apparent that to maintain the viability of the farm the ground
at the Hoo must be put to commercial use. The Parish Council arranged for
the ground behind the Parkfield estate to become the club’s new home. The
cricket club moved here, and the tennis club was founded at the same location.
The courts were in place by mid 1980’s. Work on the cricket pitch started in
1988 but did not come in to use until 1990, mainly as the ground required
substantial levelling. Thus, the club had 2-3 years of nomadic life. Sadly, the
old pavilion could not be moved from the Hoo, so another second hand one was
obtained and constructed at the ground, which is the structure still in use
today. The 1980’s and 1990’s were reasonably successful years at the club, with
Saturday and Sunday teams being fielded regularly. The club has always played
in the southern friendly tradition, and this was a time when many of the
traditional opposition clubs started the transition to the league game. The
maintenance of friendly status was the firm preference of the members at the
time. By the late 1990’s the club was struggling to put teams out. In October
1999, the decision was made to field just 1 team a week. Initially a mixture of
Saturdays and Sundays but then exclusively Sundays. If 1999 was bleak in the
2000’s the club progressed with a few young players from the village playing
regularly. This even allowed for as series of weekend tours to
Lincolnshire between 2006-2012. A shipping container was placed at the ground, which
helped greatly with the storage of the ground equipment. In the 2010’s the club
has maintained a steady state transitioning like many clubs to a wider group of
less regular players. It welcomed a couple of Saracen teams to the ground for
celebrity games. The 2020 season saw the suspension of cricket in the first
half of the season. The return of cricket though saw a successfully run for the
“Kimpton Invincibles” with 8 wins from 8 games. More importantly through lockdown
fundraising and grants from the Parish Council, North Herts District Council
and the ECB. The club managed to fund: a pitch renovation, the installation of
an artificial wicket, a portable Net and a Dennis Square Mower. 2021 saw the club
run the All Stars and Dynamos programmes attracting 50 juniors to the sessions.
It was also the inaugural year for the Kimpton Hundred an intra village 8 a
The club also took
the decision to join the Saracens Hertfordshire Cricket League from the 2022 season. “The
past is a foreign country; they do things differently there”. They certainly
did not play cricket league cricket in the south. From 1968 leagues spread in
the south from the premier clubs down, Kimpton though continued playing solely friendly
cricket. Before 2000 this was due to strong opposition inside the club to
league cricket. Since 2000 the club was busy enough keeping the show on the
road to think about it very much. However, with the desire to put the club on a
more sustainable footing by playing more games and the increasing difficulty in
finding a full programme of matched Sunday games joining the league was an easy
decision to make. As this history demonstrates the club has faced many
challenges but overcome them through the dedication and enthusiasm of its
members. Through this, we hope to establish the league side whilst preserving a
programme of Sunday Friendlies.
Kimpton President's Day 2019.