Wath Cricket Club: 125 not out!

It’s been a long and glorious innings for Wath Cricket Club as they celebrate their 125th anniversary this season.

The club’s history has not been without a few sticky wickets – or water-logged – with flooding from a nearby stream playing havoc on their Moor Road ground.

But the hard work of the committee off the field over the last few decades has helped Wath stay afloat as a family focused village cricket club with now over 100 players on the team sheets.

A benevolent local brewer first got the ball rolling in 1899. Spedding Whitworth gave the land behind his Wath Brewery for use as a sports facility, along with £1,000 to build a pavilion.

Teams in 1901, 1908 and 1914

Wath’s first official match was a two-day game in April 1899 against a Yorkshire County team that was captained by Lord Martin Bladen Hawke. Wath fielded 16 players, the majority of whom were miners, against some famous Yorkshire players like Wilfred Rhodes, Schofield Haigh and George Hirst.

Despite having five more players on their team, they still managed to lose by more than an innings. But it was a grand old affair with a luncheon, afternoon tea for the ladies, and an evening ball to celebrate the opening of the cricket ground and pavilion.

They entered the Doncaster league after the war in 1918 under the leadership of Fred Turner, the father of future first-class cricketer Cyril. Three years later, they joined the Yorkshire Council, marking the beginning of the club’s glory days.

Teams in 1926, 1929 and 1951

Throughout the 1920s, Wath were South Yorkshire league champions five times, won the Times Cup four times, were Mexborough Evening League champions three times, and got to the final of the Yorkshire Council where they lost to Sheffield United.

Their ground and facilities were second-to-none, with Yorkshire County’s second eleven having played there, too.

However, after the Second World War, they faced a corridor of uncertainty. Many senior players retired, their best younger players moved to Cortonwood, and the ground kept getting flooded due to mining subsidence.

Around two-million-litres of water turned the cricket field into a swimming pool, meaning the club had to play away from home for two seasons while the coal board investigated it.

The Moor Road ground is prone to flooding – pictured in 2019

This rapid decline left the club stumped. But group loyalty and the collective will to survive saw the team overcome the obstacles and carry the bat for years to come.

More adversity hit in 1981 when the elaborate and much-loved pavilion sadly burnt down. But from the ashes they built a new clubhouse in its place which has since been extended twice.

The clubhouse was renovated in 2019 after another bad flood. The bar area and new patio is the perfect place for players’ families and friends to relax while they watch the weekend matches or evening training sessions.

Their teams include three senior XIs, five junior sides and a flourishing All Stars programme for under 10s.

Today, the Moor Road ground has a four-lane practice net, upgraded changing facilities, electronic scoreboard and specialist ground improvements to reduce the risk of flooding – with the club’s two groundsmen constantly monitoring and maintaining the cricket field.

But you don’t have to like cricket to make use of the facilities. The club offers a social membership of £5 for the year which gives members discounts behind the bar and access to the many exclusive events they host throughout the year.

To mark their big birthday, chairman Peter Barlow and the rest of the committee have organised some special celebrations throughout the 2024 season.

Kicking things off was a gala dinner in the clubhouse in April for members with a long service to the club. In attendance were club legends like club president Brian Thorpe and former chairman Les Peace, now both in their 80s, who played for the club since the 1950s.

Peter himself has been involved for almost 60 years, starting as an 11-year-old back in 1968 and playing in every decade since – 40 years as a first team player. He joined the committee in the 1980s and took over as chairman in 2005 after Les retired. His dad Geoff was a player and former club secretary and now Pete’s son Mark, nephew Rob, and grandsons Sam, Josh and Oliver all now play for the club.

Although his playing days are now behind him, Pete will be getting his cricket whites back out in May for an anniversary fixture as Wath Veterans XI take on a team of current Wath players.

In August, the public are invited to Moor Road for a week-long cricket festival. There will be a game each day from Monday 19th August at 1.30pm. On Thursday 22nd, an MCC team will make the journey from Lords, the home of cricket, to take on the Wath first XI.

Teams in 1960, 1970 and 1997

Find out more about the club on their website or follow them on Facebook for regular updates and events.