Since the very earliest civilizations, sport has been a pastime enjoyed by the masses, whether it be wrestling and charioteering in Ancient Greece and Rome, or the modern obsession with football. Sport is universally popular as it transcends class and political boundaries, it encourages teamwork and above all, gives you something to do on a Saturday afternoon!
This exhibition takes items from the collection to illustrate the sporting history of the Borough of Runnymede. Many of the sports clubs and organisations that once played in this area have now disappeared without a trace. Some, however, have continued to the present day and have even made their mark on sporting history.
This exhibition is not a definitive history of all sport in the Borough, merely a taster of former glory days.
Addlestone Swimming Club
The Addlestone Swimming Club was formed in 1919, and children used to be taught to swim in the Wey Navigation as there was no swimming pool in the town. For many years the Council employed Mr. Thomas Plumridge as a bathing attendant, who taught children and adults to swim for a cost of 1d each. The Club members used a boathouse as a changing room, and were taught life-saving techniques as well as general swimming. The Club closed in 1970.
Chertsey Athletic Football Club
Chertsey Athletic Football Club was formed in the late 1920s, but, like many other sporting associations in the Borough, it had a short-lived history.
The photograph to the left shows 16 members of the team for the 1935/36 season. This is the last team photograph we have, although the team continued to play up to the 1938/1939 season.
With the outbreak of the Second World War, most of the team members and club officials were called up to fight. There were not enough players remaining for the club to continue playing fixtures.
Chertsey Athletic Football Club ceased to be in 1946. Eight members of the team had been killed in the War and there were no longer enough players for it to continue. Mr. Arthur Waites, the Club’s Honorary Secretary, wrote to parents of all the eight men killed expressing his and the Club’s sorrow.
In August 1946 the decision was taken to wind up the Club. The Club’s football equipment was given to other local teams, and a donation of £3 was given to Chertsey Football Club. There was still some money in the Club’s account and it was decided that the money be used to purchase a trophy for Stepgates School in memory of the eight players who died. Unfortunately the whereabouts of this cup is now unknown.
Chertsey Cricket Club
The origins of cricket are not easy to find, but the game seems to have began in the sheep-rearing areas of Sussex and Kent where the short grass of the pastures made for excellent bowling conditions. The name cricket is thought to come from the old English cricc or cryce which was a type of curved staff used by shepherds, and originally the bats were curved and resembled a large hockey stick.
By the 17th century cricket was a popular rural pastime, but only for the peasants. By the mid 18th century, however, all levels of society were enjoying the sport, and in the 1760s the first cricket club was founded in Hambledon, Hampshire.
The earliest known reference to cricket in Chertsey is in September 1737 when the team lost by 5 wickets to a London side. This was not the most impressive of starts, but Chertsey Cricket Club was to go on to assure its place in cricket history and legend, largely due to the support of Charles Bennett, the 4th Earl of Tankerville.
Lord Tankerville lived at Mount Felix, near Walton Bridge, within the then parish of Chertsey. He was a great supporter of the game of cricket, not only at county level but also as a regular member of the Chertsey XI from 1773 to 1781. It is said that Lord Tankerville was one of the best amateur batsmen of his day. During this time, Tankerville employed William Bedster as his butler who was also a well known batsman, and his gardener, Edward Stevens became one of the most famous and accurate bowlers in cricketing history.
There seems to be little to record the successes or otherwise of Chertsey Cricket Club in the nineteenth century. We do know Chertsey won at Lord’s in August 1855, playing against St. Johns Wood, and that the club no longer played at the Burway but on Abbey Mead, then Abbey Field, Gogmore and even Chertsey recreation ground. In 1921 sufficient money was raised to purchase the current cricket ground in Grove Road, and the following year a pavilion was built on the site. This remained in use until 1963 when it was replaced with the current pavilion.
In the years prior to the First World War the club had two sides playing on Saturdays, and a team that played on Wednesdays. Chertsey Cricket Club was also amongst the first to play Sunday cricket, much to the disapproval of the local vicar!
During the Second World War the club was able to keep playing, unlike many other sporting clubs in the Borough, as many of its team players were too old to be called in to active service.
Since the end of the Second World War Chertsey Cricket Club has continued to flourish, with four sides playing on Saturdays, two on Sundays, and a thriving youth team, which should ensure that this historic club remains part of the sporting landscape of the Borough for years to come.
Edward Stevens, or Lumpy Stevens as he was generally known was the most famous bowler of his age, and one that had a profound affect on the way the game of cricket was played.
In 1772, whilst playing against the famous Hambledon Cricket Club Lumpy Stevens bowled himself in to the history books. At this time, cricket was played with two stumps and only a single bail, but Lumpy proved himself so accurate that on three separate occasions he sent the ball between the two stumps, without dislodging the bail and so each time the batsman was given not out. This caused a huge outcry, and two years later a meeting was convened which comprised of the great and the good in cricket at the time; Lord Tankerville, the Duke of Dorset, Sir Francis Vincent, Sir Horace Mann and others, and the rules were revised.
As a result of this meeting, the third stump was introduced in to the game of cricket, and the first match played with three stumps took place at the Burway ground on 6th September 1776 between Chertsey and Coulsden.
Edward Stevens became a semi-professional cricketer, whilst still employed as a gardener, playing for the national side. He died in 1821 and is buried in the churchyard of St. Mary’s Church, Walton-upon-Thames.
Chertsey Golf Club
Golf became a fashionable pastime at the beginning of the 20th century and golf clubs started opening up all over the country, but especially in the South East of England.
In 1902 a group of Chertsey business men came together and decided to build a golf course, and the following year a meeting was called at the Crown Hotel to gather support. The site chosen was 96 acres of land on the Burway which belonged to the Earls of Lucan. The Lucan family were hoping to develop the estate’s potential as a shooting and fishing venue, but in the meantime decided to lease part of the estate to raise revenue. The 4th Earl of Lucan, Charles George Bingham, became the Club’s first President and his son became the first Club Captain. This association with the Lucan family continued until 1974 when it ceased after the disappearance of the 7th Earl of Lucan following the infamous murder of his nanny at his Belgravia home.
It was decided that the club would be run on a subscription basis, and that the first 100 male members would be offered a discount rate of 3 guineas, with the first 50 women paying only 2 guineas. These subscriptions would help pay the annual rent of £148 for the first 7 years. A committee was established to run the Club and the 18 hole course was designed by an eminent golfer of the day, Jack White, who went on to win the British Open championship in 1904.
In the early years the long term success of Chertsey Golf Club seemed uncertain. A request for a 99 year lease was refused, and the opening of the course, planned for September 1903 was delayed due to a prolonged period of very heavy rain.
The Club was at last instituted as a Members Club on 1st October 1903, even though the lease granting official permission to construct the club was not signed until the following May. In 1910 the growth in cheap railway fares from London led to an influx of new members, although access to the site was still far from easy. The main way to access the course was by foot via Ferry Lane, or by using the ferry that ran between Chertsey and Laleham. This meant that there was a considerable amount of walking required to get to the course, before starting the 18 hole course!
With the outbreak of the First World War, and the death of the 4th Earl of Lucan, in 1914 the Club faced a crisis which threatened its very survival. Membership, naturally declined, and with it the income necessary for the Club to remain open.
The drop in members during the War forced the Committee to realise that it was no longer possible to expect individuals to bail the Club out of financial difficulties, and so it was decided to form a limited company. In 1922 the Articles of Association were agreed that saw Chertsey Golf Club Ltd. take over the liabilities of the old club.
Chertsey Town Football Club
Chertsey Football Club was officially founded in 1890 when the team played in the West Surrey League. The team continued strongly until the outbreak of the First World War in 1914 when fixtures were halted. Play did resume after the War when the club joined the Surrey Intermediate League where it stayed, uneventfully, until the outbreak of the Second World War forced another break in matches.
Willow Walk, Free Prae Road, Staines Lane and Chilsey Green have all been home to the club during its long history, but it moved to its current location in Alwyn’s Lane in 1929. It wasn’t until 1951 that the club became known as Chertsey Town FC, and shortly afterwards the ground was improved with the construction of the main stand, and a club house in 1960.
From the end of the Second World War to the mid 1960s Chertsey FC played in the Surrey Senior League, having success in the League Championship in the 1959/60 season - an achievement they were to repeat twice in the following three years. It was also during this successful period the team won the League Cup on three occasions. As a result of these successes the club wanted to progress up the leagues, but this was not permitted in amateur football at this time, so in 1963 the club decided to turn professional in order to enter the Metropolitan League. However, the costs of playing at a professional level were too much for the club to shoulder, and in 1967 Chertsey Town played in the Spartan League.
In recent years the club’s fortunes have been mixed. In 1974/75 the club was league and league cup runner up and they played in the Isthmian Division Two (South) in 1984 and 1986. The club also reached the quarter finals of the F.A. Vase in 1987/88, and the following year, as runner up, CTFC was promoted to Division One. In recent years Chertsey Town has experienced promotion and relegation in equal measures, but the club continues to thrive and, now well in to its 115th season, it continues to be at the very heart of the local community.
Egham Town Football Club
Originally known as the Runnymede Rovers, Egham Town Football Club can trace their beginnings back to 1877. However, as with many of these local sports clubs, there are few records related to the early successes of the team. It is known that they were a founder member of the Surrey Senior League, and indeed were winners of the first Champions Pennant. Local success continued in to the 1930s but, with the outbreak of the Second World War, club fixtures ceased and the club did not re-open once the war was over.
Egham Town F.C. as we know it today was formed in December 1963. The club had little money and had to use the Egham Urban District Council Offices as their changing room!
The height of achievement to date came in 1984-85 when the team reached the 4th round of the FA Vase, the 3rd Qualifying Round of the FA Cup and 6th place in League Division Two.
Ottershaw Cricket Club
Written and researched by Graham Kelsey & Richard Bowden
Although we cannot, at present, say exactly when the village cricket club began, a later reference suggests that it was probably in the middle 1850s. The first season for which match reports survive is 1869 by when the club appears to have been quite well-established. It was, at that time, captained by the younger William Fletcher, son of the founder of Fletcher’s Nurseries which was to expand across much of Ottershaw between the 1880s and 1920s. As the Surrey press pointed out, the club was fortunate to play its home games in the beautiful surroundings of Ottershaw Park, seat of Sir Edward Colebrooke M.P., who may well have been the club’s President at this stage. By the early 1880s however, the club was playing in Botley’s Park and the club’s presidency had passed to the local vicar, the Rev. Baron Hichens.
The years immediately before and after the First World War constituted something of a ‘golden age’ for the local village cricket club. In 1913, the local press announced that Jack Hobbs, “generally adjudged to be the finest batsman in England during the past few years”, would be residing in Ottershaw before the start of the season to coach the son of the new owner of Ottershaw Park, Mr Frederick Eckstein. On 19th April Hobbs scored 86 to help an Ottershaw Park side defeat the village club quite comprehensively in the opening game of the season, and followed it on the ensuing Wednesday with 76 against Chertsey who were no less comprehensively beaten. He was back again at the end of the season and again, briefly, at the start of the 1914 season. Hobbs was a popular figure, and many an Ottershaw youth whiled away his evening bowling at England’s greatest batsman in the nets at Ottershaw Park.
After the end of the Great War, during which various of the club’s players perished, the club was quickly reorganised won the new cricket league organised by the Surrey Herald newspaper in 1919. Then growth in the club’s fortunes was such that in 1920 a second XI was set up with a respectable list of fixtures, and they was to continue functioning until 1925. In 1931 the club were told they could no longer use the cricket pitch, but in 1935, the governors of the school recently installed in Ottershaw Park agreed to let the club use their grounds and, from 1936, the club enjoyed a remarkable resurgence until the outbreak of the Second World War.
When the war ended, a local resident anonymously donated some ground in Ottershaw to the village to be used for sport and recreational purposes, in memory of her son who had died in the war on active service. This was given over to the Cherstey Urban District Council to convert into a recreation ground and to administer on behalf of the village. A cricket pitch was established here in 1951, and it is the ‘Memorial Fields’ which have been the club’s home ever since.
A fuller history, also written by Richard Bowden is available for download