The first game played by Hayes of which we have records took place in 1828 when the village side met the West Kent Club on the common at Chislehurst. Although this is the first recorded match, we have found a record of a game of Cricket being held in Hayes in 1804, so our immediate dilemma is do we celebrate our 200th anniversary in 2004 or our 175th in 2003?
The Hayes Club soon became established in the Cricket world, so much so that at a home game against Dulwich in 1840 not only did a former President of the M.C.C. play for the Club, but the then Secretary of M.C.C. attended as a guest. The Club’s ground at this time was situated on the Common at the top of what is now known as Station Hill (See Picture – an idyllic village green), this was to remain the venue until the mid 1880’s.
With the advent of the railway to Hayes in 1882, our village became a popular day trip for Londoners. One of our members Charles Mercer worked at the station as a telegraph boy and recalled 11,000 day trippers in one day arriving at Hayes station and walking right over the cricket ground on their way to visit local beauty spot of Keston Ponds.
A NEW GROUND
Thus organised Cricket came to an end on the Common and by 1890 the Club moved to a field at Baston Farm. It’s on this ground in Barnet Wood Road that Cricket has been played ever since, apart from a five year break during the First World War.
During that era on the Common many famous players appeared for the Club, perhaps the most notable James Southerton who in 1858 made the then fantastic score of 156 for Hayes against Peckham Rye Standard. This stood as a Club record for 77 years.
Nineteen years later he appeared for England in the very first Test Match against Australia.
Southerton played for Surrey as did Tom Sherman, who in 1861 was playing for Bromley and was one of the main reasons Hayes suffered their worse ignominy in being dismissed for one run and that a leg-bye! However, in our defence there were two men marked as absent in the score box, who both batted in the second innings, when we amassed 89, but were well beaten over the two innings by 8 wickets.
Hayes fielded some very strong teams in this era, notably against Westerham in 1860 the first five in the batting order all played for Kent CCC.
In the quarter century prior to 1914 the Club was strongly backed by the Parish church. The Church warden C.F. Wood was captain for nineteen years between 1896 and 1914. The Rector Canon G. Clowes was President and the Rev. G.F. Matthews was Secretary and Treasurer for 6 years from 1897.
The Curates also played a prominent part – I wonder if committee meetings were held before or after the Sunday service.
One player Frank Keech who was a bell ringer at the Church for many years, first appeared in 1896, played his last game for the Club in 1939 and remained a member until his death in 1974.
The Club was mainly financed by the subscriptions from the gentry who lived in the many big houses that stood in Hayes at that time.
Perhaps the most depressing period for the Club was in the late 1920’s. The team was weak, the ground was in a very poor state, finance was desperately short and there was even talk of disbandment.
As Hayes began to expand through the great building developments in the 1930’s the Club fortunes improved.
Jimmy Dance whose hobby in life was producing one of the best pitches in Kent arrived and there was a good influx of talented players so the playing strength rose to a peak not reached before.
The post War period has seen many changes. A new pavilion was built and opened in 1956 thanks to the generosity of Bill Warman, and the Warman Sports Trust was set up involving Hayes Cricket and Hayes Tennis Clubs together with the Bromley Rugby Club (previously Catford Bridge RFC), which has enabled these sports to be played in perpetuity on our ground.
LEAGUE CRICKET ARRIVES
League Cricket became dominant in the Home Counties in the 1970’s. Hayes joined the South Thames Cricket League in 1976 before graduating to the Kent Cricket League in 1981, which was, and still is, the Premier Cricketing League in Kent.