The 1700s Club
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The oldest cricket club in the country (if not the world) is considered to be Mitcham CC whose roots date back to 1685. In the early eighteenth century the game spread quite rapidly throughout Hampshire, Kent, Sussex and Surrey and it wasn't long before it crossed the Thames and gathered momentum in Essex. Today, there are in excess of 250 amateur clubs across the county, one-third of which were founded before Essex County Cricket Club (formed in 1876). And of those clubs who grace our green pastures during the summer months, an elite group of 11 were formally established in the eighteenth century . . .
Woodford Green CC 1735
Tillingham CC 1750
St Osyth CC 1754
Navestock CC 1768
Stock CC 1769
Great Bentley CC 1771
Harlow CC 1774
Hornchurch CC 1783
Woodham Mortimer CC 1784
Great Braxted & Tiptree CC 1787
West Mersea CC 1792
Woodford Green CC - the county's oldest club
During their lifetimes, these magnificent clubs have lived through the Battle of Waterloo; marvelled at the arrival of the telephone; witnessed the advent of the grass mower and welcomed the invention of the motorcar to transport them to matches farther afield. And not least, they survived the First and Second World Wars. It is a pity that very few written historical records exist about these and other clubs in the county* - there must be many fascinating stories to tell.
Each of these clubs is deserving of a 'Great Club' badge. Having provided so much pleasure to so many people for so many years, they hold a special place in the history of cricket in Essex as well as in the hearts of their local communities. Belhus Cricket Club salutes the august members of The 1700s Club and applauds their longevity. When you next visit their grounds, spare a moment to reflect awhile on their remarkable achievement.
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* A number of club centenary brochures and booklets about amateur clubs in Essex have been produced over the years, but very few comprehensive histories have been published. However, a couple of well-researched publications (see below) deserve mention and are recommended reading for students of the history of the game across the county. . .
'Cricket on the Green: Woodford Green Cricket Club'. Arthur Lindfield and Bill Naismith, 1999
'Gentlemen Cricketers of Maldon'. Richard Cooper, 2005
'The Story of Wivenhoe Cricket'. Jon Wiseman, 2011
'Essex Memories'. Paul Hiscock and Tony McDonald, 2018
Also recommended - 'Essex County Cricket Club: The Official History'. David Lemmon and Mike Marshall, 1987
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Denis Reed, January 2014