Celebrating 87 years of cricket in 2023
Hornchurch Athletic CC was formed in 1936, four years after the Athletic Football Club had kicked off in the Romford League.
The first match saw us make only 21 against Welsh Collegians, but in these low scoring days when two innings matches were common, this paltry score was enough as our opponents could make only 15.
As the Romford Recorder said “all the players revealed a lack of batting practice, with the result that the scoring was very low”
Four years later our game against Eton Manor in August 1940 was our last for 6 years as the War closed in. But the club survived and in 1946 we were back in full swing with Peter Peaple, Doug Ringrose Fred Thorogood and Sid Barnard our leading players.
Under the guidance of Joe Pamment we laid our own pitch at Hubbards Chase, close to what is now Campion School. ”A well- equipped barn served as dressing room accommodation.”
We didn’t stay long at Hubbards and later moved briefly to Spring Farm Park in Rainham before moving to Hylands Park in 1953, the ground that has become our permanent home.
A new home and a decade of success
To start with the pavilion was a wooden hut on the far side of the park close to the tennis courts but in the late 50s the Council built us a proper brick pavilion and in 1960 a concrete net was built.
The 1960s was a great period for Athletic and we were one of the top clubs in the area, with Doug Ringrose, Ron Elliott, Brian Mason and others making us a formidable side.
Up until the early 1970s all club cricket was friendlies but there was a clamour for leagues and in 1973 we joined the second tier Essex County League along with clubs like Ardleigh Green, Noak Hill and Harold Wood.
The 1970s was probably not our best decade and other clubs pulled ahead of us in the league structure. Doug Ringrose was still there as our top player and after he retired new players like Alan Kerr, Ken Harris and Dave Barbone were our key men. They were followed by a new group of players like John Withington, Chris Martin and John Thomas who saw the club through the 80s.
By 1986 we had reached our 50th anniversary, which was celebrated with a cricket week and special Old Boys game where players, some of which had been retired 20 years, donned their whites one last time.
In 1992 we stepped up a level by joining the Morrant League taking on clubs such as Upminster, Eton Manor and Snaresbrook. However, this was a period of considerable change in club cricket, whereby we began to fall behind other local sides..
The modern era and 75 years
By 2007 we were back with possibly our best team ever, with two Australians, Harry Bridge and Andy Newling, our best ever player, West Indian Londis Lewis and led by all time leading run scorer Paul Humphries. Competing in a strong Lords International League, the side won the League Cup in 2007, before finishing League Runners up in 2009, narrowly missing out on the title.
In 2011 we celebrated our 75th anniversary with a commemorative brochure and another successful Old Boys Day, with over 100 players and friends from every generation in attendance.
In 2013 we left the Lords International League and moved into the T-Rippon Mid Essex League. The move proved to be a success with the 1st XI, now led by Sam Samarasekera, gaining promotion to Division 1, after finishing their inaugural season with 18/18 wins.
2019 was the most successful season in club history with the 1st XI promoted to the T-Rippon Premier Division in 2019 after being crowned Division 1 Champions, and the clubs other 3 teams all finishing in the top 3 and subsequently promoted from their respective divisions.
A bright future
Unfortunately due to the Covid-19 pandemic the 1st XI were unable to take their place in the top division. However, we were able to still have a successful mini-season, with a renewed club spirit and plenty of positive thinking and a new focus on what we want to achieve as a club.
After several previous attempts the 1st XI have joined the full Essex League, now sponsored by Hamro Foundation, as an Associate Member, with our other teams remaining in the Mid-Essex League.
Hornchurch Athletic has always been a community club and anyone that wants to play cricket will get a game with us. We are a happy and social club and people that join us tend to stay for a long time.
In recent years we have made amazing strides off the pitch, largely attributable to a huge increase in bar takings, enabling significant improvements across all aspects of the club, but specifically, youth cricket, the pitch and general facilities.
It is a bright future for Hornchurch Athletic both on and off the field.