LIKE many villages, they’ve been playing cricket in Worplesdon for well over 100 years.

It’s believed matches were first played at Merrist Wood, then a large house and estate, now the home of Merrist Wood College. And county matches were even played there on a wicket prepared by the groundsman from the Oval, home of Surrey County Cricket Club.

In 1890, Worplesdon Cricket Club moved to a new pitch on the common at the foot of Rickford Hill, near Fox Corner. While during the early 1900s its first XI captain was one of the world’s most revered big game hunters, Frederick Courteney Selous (pronounced ‘sir loo’).

He was dubbed “a gentleman officer and epic wild man”. In about 1894, at the age of 42, he came to live at Fox Corner on the Pirbright Road. Selous, and his 20-year-old wife, settled in a house called Heatherside, where he had a gallery built to house his trophies from his shooting expeditions.

Despite his age, he managed to fight in East Africa during the First World War as a captain in the 25th (Frontiersmen) Battalion, Royal Fusiliers. However, this great marksman was shot dead by a German sniper in 1917.

Local Worplesdon men were stalwarts of the cricket club for many years. These included the Primmer and Terry families who ran a forge and were wheelwrights and undertakers on the green at Perry Hill, and also the Heathers.

In 1912, the club moved from the common to a new pitch at the top of Perry Hill. The land having been donated by Sir James Walker (not to be confused with the James Walker of the famous Woking firm).

Sir James (1845-1927) carved out a successful career as a banker as well as a newspaper owner in India. He and his wife, Lady Catherine Featherston Walker, came to live at Perry Hill in 1902, in a house that is now the restaurant and hotel, Worplesdon Place.

The club’s fixture list in 1920 included matches against Westfield, West Chobham, Pirbright, Normandy, Wood Street, and a works team from the aircraft and motorcycle firm Martinsyde of Woking.

A bowler named John Elson was, in 1929, deemed too dangerous for Worplesdon’s pitch and therefore had to transfer to play for Pirbright!

After the Second World War, there was much fund-raising to buy new kit and to bring the pitch back to playing conditions. While in 1948 the club entered the prestigious local Flora Doris Cup. However they had to wait until 1955 before they won it. As underdogs, they beat Farncombe at Guildford Sports Ground in front 3,000 spectators.

Another local stalwart still involved with the club today is Terry Cater. In the 1962 season he scored 664 runs at an average of 30.9 per match and in one match knocked up 100 runs in 40 minutes.  A new pavilion was opened in 1965 and at the annual dinner in 1967 women were invited for the first time!

In 1972 Worplesdon competed in the Morrants Three Counties League and in 1974 joined the evening Woking Review League, finishing runners up in Division Two and promoted to Division One.

To mark the centenary of when the club was formally established, there was a week of special matches in 1990 culminating in a match against a President’s XI of past players with everyone dressed in Victorian costume. With their opponents requiring two runs to win, Worplesdon snatched victory taking the last wicket off the last ball of the match.

The club amalgamated with Guildford side Burpham in 1999 and now plays as Worplesdon & Burpham Cricket Club. It has teams playing in the Fullers Brewery Surrey County League on Saturdays and one team on Sunday playing in The Village League and two T20 teams playing in the Surrey Slam competition.

If you have some memories or old pictures relating to the Woking area, call David Rose on 01483 838960, or drop a line to the News & Mail.

David Rose is a local historian and writer who specialises in what he calls “the history within living memory” of people, places and events in the west Surrey area covering towns such as Woking and Guildford. He collects old photos and memorabilia relating to the area and the subject, and regularly gives illustrated local history talks to groups and societies. For enquiries and bookings please phone or email him at: [email protected]