According to an article in the programme of events published to celebrate its 75th anniversary in 1979, Little Baddow Cricket Club was founded in 1904. As a result, the Club proudly celebrated its centenary year in 2004. In 2010 however, information emerged which suggests the Club was a little late with both anniversary celebrations! Whilst researching cricket in Great Baddow pre 1948, a local cricket historian, Andrew Clark, has unearthed several references to Little Baddow Cricket Club, the earliest of which dates back to 1790.
Andrew’s research reveals that three games took place between Little Baddow and Boreham in June 1790. Each side having won one of the first two games, a third was agreed. The games were played on the basis that the same eleven players would take part in subsequent games. It would appear that some controversy was caused when one of the teams changed some of the players, resulting in a letter being written to and published by the Chelmsford Chronicle!
Further references have been identified, referring to matches between Little Baddow and a combined Great Baddow and East Hanningfield team in 1793, and Little Baddow and Danbury in 1800.
Later in the nineteenth century, two specific articles published in the Chelmsford Chronicle provide further evidence.
A brief match report published on 29th May 1885 records that Little Baddow defeated Langford and notes that this was the first match played by the recently formed Little Baddow Club. Little Baddow scored 40 runs with notable contributions from J Simmons (18), M Moore (11) and E Langman (10) before bowling out Langford for 16 runs. E Langman took 5 wickets for 7 runs and F G Horth 3 wickets for 5 runs.
The return match took place on Saturday July 18th 1885 and featured in the edition of the newspaper published on 24th July 1885. It reports that the match was played in Little Baddow on a fine field kindly lent by Mr C Smoothy of Riffhams Farm but owing to the long period of dry weather the ground was rather hard. After 2 innings by each side, Little Baddow won by 9 runs with the scores for Little Baddow 42 and 48 (H Clench 15) and for Langford 45 and 36. For the winners, E Langman, C Horth and T Langman were reported to have bowled well, though no figures were recorded. The article records that an excellent lunch was served in the schoolroom, the chair being taken by Reverend F T Taylor. Reverend R H Witherby and Mr C Smoothy were noted as luncheon guests of the two clubs.
No evidence has been found to indicate what happened between 1885 and 1904 but the article published in 1979 states the club was formed in 1904. The article was constructed from notes prepared by Mr Cyril Warsop, a former member, which were based on reminiscences and sets out in some detail the officers of the Club and some of the fixtures played in the period from 1904 to 1939.
The text of the article is reproduced below:
The club was formed in 1904 and its first officers were:
President: Bateman Hope, Esquire of Tofts, Little Baddow
Secretary: Wilfred Everett of the Smith, close by Anchors Farm, Little Baddow
Committee: S W Wager, W Wood, A E Enefer, E Parrish, J Rankin, C A Ager
Scorer: As well as acting as Secretary, Wilfred Everett was Scorer
The first captain of the Club was Wifred G Pledger of Hammonds Farm, Little Baddow. The original playing ground was a meadow behind Tofts which has a footpath across its middle leading to Bassets Wood. Only the wicket itself was mown, and this by means of a hand pushed 14 inch mower. A score of 70 runs was generally sufficient to win a match on this rough and ready pitch.
In 1905 there was a change of President, and A L Woodhouse, Esquire took over from Mr Hope. During that season all fixtures consisted of half day matches, totalling 15 or 16 in all.
In the same year a fine all round cricketer appeared on the scene, Walter Warsop who had learned his cricket at Lords. One memorable match in August 1905 was versus Chelmsford (Press?) Club. The home side had a scratch XI, but scraped up a side. The Press won the toss, and put on 70 for the first wicket. One man made 43. Then Walter Warsop went on to bowl. He took 5 wickets in this over – including the Hat Trick. The bowler at the other end got 1 wicket and Walter cleaned up the remainder. The Press Club were all out for 74. When Little Baddow went in they did not have much luck until H Thomas, the village schoolmaster’s son, joined Walter Warsop and they kept going. W W was run out scoring 66 and Little Baddow’s final total including a bye or two was 83.
1906 – It was decided to ask Lord Raleigh for a ground behind the Warren Farm. Much larger than the previous, and of course much nearer to “The Rodney Inn”, then open all day. With the same officers as the previous year, Little Baddow had a good season with all half day fixtures including the two bank holidays. On August Bank Holiday they got a Great Baddow 2nd XI side out for 6 runs and scored the first ever innings over 100 runs.
1907 – This season opened with a good wicket, due to volunteers coming and working the heavy roller. A full fixture list was held, with two all day bank holiday matches. One new cricketer joined, E B Cheales, living at Mundon, who used to cycle all over the place to play. Also the fielding was greatly improved. Scores of upwards towards the 200 total were quite common.
A mid week fixture was held in August – an all day match between A L Woodhouse’s XI and Walter Warsop’s XI. A marquee was erected at the back of Warren Cottage. This game ended in a draw. A spectator came along with C J Round, who was playing for A L W’s XI. He was the Right Honourable James Round, over 80 years of age, who was a cabinet minister in one of Gladstone’s governments.
The last match away before going to Lords was on the old Town Ground in New Street, Chelmsford, now covered by Marconi. Little Baddow batted first. The first wicket fell at 130, with Walter Warsop scoring 75. E B Cheales retired with 60, and then AL Woodhouse was at the wicket with one of the Agers and between them the score went up to 209. Little Baddow declared and got the opposition out for 103.
The final fixture in this year was an all day match at Lords versus Cross Arrows. The game ended in a draw.
The seasons 1908, 1909, 1910 consisted of very similar fixtures with the same captain, W G Pledger from Hammonds Farm.
In 1911 Pledger retired from cricket and C A Ager was captain, followed in 1914 by Chas. Speakman.
The great war put paid to cricket for a while and in 1919 a new ground was created on its present site. Captains between the wars were:
Walter Warsop 1919-1920
T E Andrews 1921-1924
W Wilde 1925-1933
G Joslin 1934-1939
The greatest match in 1934 was Little Baddow v Woodham Walter Warren. It was arranged to play from 2.30pm until 7.30pm if there was a chance of playing the game out. Warren declared at 222 for 7. Little Baddow knocked the runs off with 3 wickets to spare by 7.15pm. This was a real afternoon’s cricket and the wicket was as good as it is today.
(End of the 1979 article)
Other recollections from the early years of the twentieth century note that when the club moved to the ground behind the Warren Farm in 1906, the licensee at the Rodney, Mr Sidney Wager, provided transport for the away matches in the form of a horse drawn wagonette and also acted as umpire. The final Saturday in August 1914 saw the last match played on the Warren Farm ground although no one realised it at the time. As the Great War loomed, the Sixth Battalion of the Gloucestershire regiment arrived in the village and were billeted there for the next eight months. When village cricket resumed again in 1919, the club moved to its present ground which was originally an overgrown meadow owned by the Spencer-Phillips family. By 1921 the club had enough players to field two teams and it became necessary to introduce a rule whereby only village residents could play. In 1923 the first ever match played on the current Essex County Cricket ground was played with Chelmsford playing Little Baddow. A player from the latter, George Joslin hit the first six there, the ball landing in the grounds of the then Chelmsford and Essex hospital with Little Baddow finally winning the match!
Other historical notes include the dedication of Mrs Ada Puddephatt who lived in nearby Parsonage Lane and made cricket teas at weekends from 1925 to 1955. Unfortunately the club has never managed to find a suitable replacement for her role! In 1996, Mr John Enefer completed his fifty sixth playing year for the club, a record unlikely to be broken.
In the 1970s the club became a member of the Mid Essex Cricket League with notable success, winning the Premier League title in 1986, and has had teams competing in the league every year. In 2005, the club entered an additional league team in the North Essex League.
During the 1990s, the club was instrumental in obtaining lottery funding to refurbish and modernise the pavilion and a junior section was established by the then Chairman, John Woodrow. This has proven to be a great success and has helped to position the club well for the twenty first century.