WITH the league season for local cricket teams just around the corner, Peeps into the Past looks at the long history of the Ottershaw club.

News & Mail reader Richard Bowden has completed a brief history of Ottershaw with the help of former club member Graham Kelsey.

It is believed the club may have started in the mid-1850s, although the first season for which match reports survive is 1869.

The club was fortunate to play its home games in the beautiful surroundings of Ottershaw Park, seat of Sir Edward Colebrooke MP, who may well have been the club’s president.

By the early 1880s the club was playing in Botleys Park and the club’s presidency had passed to the local vicar, the Rev Baron Hichens, who was to retain the position for an almost unbroken spell of 20 years.

In 1913, the great Jack Hobbs stayed in Ottershaw before the start of the season to coach the son of the new owner of Ottershaw Park, Frederick Eckstein. On 19 April, Hobbs scored 86 runs to help an Ottershaw Park side defeat the village club.

He was back again at the end of the 1913 season and then, briefly, at the start of the 1914 season. Many an Ottershaw youth whiled away his evening bowling at England’s greatest batsman in the nets at Ottershaw Park.

In 1923 the club organised an August bank holiday fete in the grounds of Botleys Park and began the holding of an all-day match on bank holiday Monday against a Gosling’s XI – otherwise known as a Barclay’s Bank XI. This fixture continued until the death of the owner of Botleys Park, Herbert Gosling, in February 1929.

The estate’s appropriation by the county health authority and that organisation’s subsequent refusal, at the end of 1931, to allow the village club to use the pitch which they had played on and looked after for over 50 years, almost caused it to fold.

However, from 1935, the governors of the school recently installed in Ottershaw Park agreed to let the club use its grounds and, from 1936, the club enjoyed a remarkable resurgence.

After the Second World War a local resident anonymously donated some ground in Ottershaw to the village to be used for sport and recreation, in memory of her son who had died on active service during the conflict. This was given to Chertsey Urban District Council to convert into a recreation ground and to administer it on behalf of the village.

A cricket pitch was established in 1951 and, known as the Memorial Fields, it has been the club’s home ever since.

In 1952, Arthur Foot, headmaster of Ottershaw School, became club chairman and introduced a new structure. His approach paid dividends and in 1955 the club joined the Club Cricket Conference, built its first sightscreen and issued club caps and ties.

It also held its first annual dinner dance which became a highlight of the season for many years, with Surrey cricketers including Tony Lock, Ken Barrington and Micky Stewart attending as guests of honour.

In 1962 the club joined the Surrey Cricket Association and began to compete in the mid-week Flora Doris Knock Out Competition, winning its subsidiary plate competition, The Admiral Dunlop Cup, in 1966, and again in 1998.

At the club’s annual dinner dance in 1964, Surrey captain Micky Stewart promised to bring a side down to play at Ottershaw if the club was successful in its bid to build a scorebox. It was duly built – and Stewart kept his promise.

In September 1965, a crowd of about 2,000 gathered for the official opening of the scorebox and to see Stewart’s team – including bowling legends Alec Bedser and Jim Laker, up-and-coming stars Geoff Arnold and Mohammed Younis, and television celebrities David Frost and Bernard Cribbins – in action. Unsurprisingly, the Stewart XI got the better of Ottershaw.

In 1971, a colts section was formed for junior members. The initial fixture list grew rapidly and Ottershaw became one of the founder members of the West Surrey Carmen Heating Colts League in 1978.

The 1st and 2nd XIs joined the Wey Valley Cricket League in 1973. The 1st XI became league champions in 1981 and the following year both the 1st and 2nd XIs won their respective divisions.

The club was accepted into the more prestigious Morrant Three Counties League in 1988 where it stayed until 1993 when the Fuller’s Brewery Surrey County Cricket League was formed.

The 1990s were the best years in terms of membership with the club fielding three Saturday and two Sunday XIs and having an 80-strong colts section.

The halcyon days did not last, as many longstanding members reached the end of their cricketing careers at the same time and were not replaced by the colts, who seemed to develop new interests on moving to university.

In December 2004, the club merged with Addlestone and Hamm Moor, using the Memorial Fields and playing under the name of Ottershaw and Hamm Moor Cricket Club. However, there were still problems fielding competitive sides.

In 2007, the 1st and 2nd XIs joined the A & J Surrey Cricket League and results initially improved. The 1st XI won Division Four in its first season of membership.

However, the enthusiasm that had built up the club in the second half of the 20th century had been lost, and it seemed only a matter of time before Ottershaw folded.

Fortunately, Mike Kyriacos, the current chairman, joined the club in 2017. He reintroduced the colts in 2018, set up a midweek Twenty20 team and initiated various other improvements.

The 2020 season arrived with the club rebranded as Ottershaw Cricket Club and boasting a thriving colts section. Some of the youngsters would play for the new Sunday Development XI and the Saturday team now promoted to the Surrey Cricket League Premier Division.

Despite the coronavirus pandemic, last year Ottershaw fielded a Saturday side, two Sunday XIs most weeks and up to two midweek Twenty20 sides some weeks. And 2021 sees the club looking onwards and upwards.

The complete history and more details about the club can be found on its website: https://ottershawcc.co.uk

If you have some memories or old pictures relating to the Woking area, call me, 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]