Wednesday’s early days uncovered

Great catch: Neville Wright and Colin Cameron with The Wednesday Cricket Club Minutes Book 1832-1859
Great catch: Neville Wright and Colin Cameron with The Wednesday Cricket Club Minutes Book 1832-1859
0
Have your say

The subject matter is relatively standard cricket club stuff; organising matches, buying equipment and debating how much the ground staff should be paid.

“Two shillings each day”, it is recorded. “Though if not in attendance at two o clock, they shall receive just one.”

But this newly discovered book – found bizarrely in a loft in Ireland – charts an incredible piece of Sheffield sporting history. It is the 1832-1859 minutes for one of the city’s most famous cricket sides, The Wednesday CC.

The jewel – not previously known to exist – records not only the club’s infancy (and a period long before it gave birth to the more famous footy team), it also captures the earliest days of organised sport here in the city.

Now, this week it has been returned here, where it will be housed in the Sheffield Archives.

“It’s an incredible find,” says Neville Wright, club chairman. “I’m 63 but when I found out about it I was almost doing somersaults. The Wednesday Cricket Club was formed in 1820 so this doesn’t take us right back to the start but it’s an amazing discovery anyway.”

The book’s contents focus on the day-to-day business of running what was one of the city’s first sporting clubs. Typical subjects include difficulties putting up practice nets, arranging games and organising for opponent teams to stay in Sheffield.

“We have spoken to Mr P Crich at Black Swan Inn, Snig Hill, respecting your accommodation,” writes secretary A Earnshaw in an attached letter to Harewood Cricket Club. “It is a highly respectable house.”

In another, disappointment is expressed that some players will miss a match after being called up to play for the North of England against the South.

“Let’s hope the North won,” notes Neville, who restarted the club in 2011, 87 years after it folded in 1924.

The book itself was found by David Young, who lives in Cork, among possessions left to him by his grandfather Arthur, who played for the club in the late 1800s.

Now Neville hopes the history will inspire the current team to promotion.

“How can you not be affected?” muses club captain Colin Cameron. “It’s proof every time you put on your pads you’re part of a great tradition. I wish I’d scored more than one on Sunday now.”

HOWZAT FOR A HISTORY

It was an unusual name for a cricket side but it made sense.

Six Sheffield tradesmen formed The Wednesday Cricket Club in 1820, giving themselves the unusual moniker because that was their day off work when they played.

Little did the sextet – William Stratford, John Southren, Tom Lindley, William Woolhouse, George Dawson and George Hardisty – realise they were starting a Sheffield legend.

The club, initially based at Darnall Cricket Ground but later playing at Hyde Park and Bramall Lane, not only became one of the most respected amateur sides in Yorkshire, it also gave birth to Sheffield Wednesday FC in 1867. Among the cricket team’s greatest players were Tom Armitage and George Ulyett who both played for England in the first Ashes of 1877.

But the club disbanded in 1924 due to financial difficulties.

That would have been the end but for Neville Wright. The retired civil servant of Lodge Moore, restarted the club in 2011. It now plays at Davy’s Sporting Club in Darnall and is in division seven of the Mansfield District League.