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The Story of Darley Dale Cricket Club

Posted by Stuart Rudkin on 07/12/2015 17:11

Darley Dale Cricket Club was formed in 1863 and the riverside ground at Darley Bridge was originally levelled by James Smith (Nurseries) at a cost of £6-12sh-0d. A new pavilion was built in 1904 at a cost of £254. This replaced a corrugated iron building sited on what is now the main car park.

The matches played at the Club in the early part of its history were concentrated at grounds within easy reach of the most convenient transportation available- the railway - venues such as Belper, Duffield, Derby, Bakewell and Buxton. Cricket flourished at the Club until 1914, when, with the outbreak of war, fixtures were abandoned. The ground was closed and given over to the grazing of sheep.

The Committee of the day were proud to report that over 40 members of the Club had joined the colours and were serving King and Country. The popularity of cricket continued after the war and this is borne out by the following extract from the Daily Mail on 17th March 1923 –

“Darley Dale, a village of under 4,000 inhabitants, holds a unique position in English cricket. One resident in every 16 plays cricket. The Club runs three separate playing teams and has a nursery for all the U –15s free of fees”.

By 1930, the Club ran three teams. The first and second elevens played at Darley Bridge whilst a third eleven played at the Whitworth Institute. In 1937 one of the main benefactors of the Club, Alfred Smith, provided a new scorebox. This was officially opened on 12 May 1937 in commemoration of the coronation of George V1 and Queen Elizabeth. Unfortunately this had to be demolished a few years ago due to repeated vandalism.

With the advent of League cricket in the 1960’s, the “friendly” approach to the game tended to disappear. The Club joined the Notts & Derbys Border League, which subsequently became the Derbyshire County League. This was the start of a very successful era. The first X1 were Premier Division Champions in 1972, 1973, 1982, 1984 and 1985. They were Derbyshire Cup winners in 1986 and League Cup winners in 1974, 1982 and 1984. There was also success for the second X1 in Division 5 and the U-18 and U-15 X1s. The Club were also regular winners of the local Orme Shield competition.

On 7 September 1975 over 6000 people packed the ground to witness perhaps the biggest event in the Club’s history – a televised John Player League match between Derbyshire and Hampshire.

During the 1990s the Club lost the services of many quality players and found it difficult to replace them. Many wealthier clubs in the League employed professionals and the Club did not have the resources or a major sponsor to enable it to do likewise. However, in the last few years there has been a resurgence with new players joining and a new enthusiasm. The Club now has 1st, 2nd and 3rd X1s competing in the Derbyshire County League and Under 15,13,12,11yrs. and Kwik Cricket teams. There is also a team in the mid-week Longstone League. The ground is used mid-week by local works teams and for representative games such as Derbyshire Boys and Ladies. Each week during the Summer, youngsters are provided with practice and coaching.