Unfortunately the beginnings of Horley Cricket Club are shrouded in uncertainty. It is known that cricket was played in the village during the inter-war years and three sites are referred to in the verbal record. The first is the meadow by the brook on the Wroxton Road and the second is the current cricket field. The third location is the field behind the vicarage. Since this is effectively a v-shaped valley it is unlikely to have been the site of competitive matches but it does play a key role in the development of the modern club. In 1941 D Glyn Morgan was made vicar of Horley. Of welsh decent he had a passion for cricket and an ability to pass on his love of the game. It is for that reason that the boys of the village tended to play their games within sight of the vicarage and often gained valued coaching as a result. Rev Morgan was renown for his slow bowling and was Chairman from 1958 until his death in January 1965. Of course the war prevented the rebirth of the club but once the men returned matches were played on the current site.
It was of course a different scene to today with a paddock for training horses where the council houses of Lane Close now stand. The playing area was part of a larger field owned by Manor and the wickets were pitched at 90° to the current play, which caused unfavourable conditions in the evening matches. Among those returning to the village was G.F.Pratt who was the first Captain and Chairman until he left the village in 1958 and another inspirational character of the early years. The cricket “pavilion” and other equipment were transported from Hanwell. The pavilion was placed under the tree by the gate where it acted as a tractor shed in the sixties – it was just big enough! The present garages were erected in 1967 when it fell into disrepair. The new pavilion in its current position owes much to the Oxfordshire Ironstone Company. As the main local employer it gave work to many from the village and the blocks from which the shell is made were produced at the works at the weekends. The stone which is now in the front of the bar was laid as part of the coronation celebrations in June 1953 with the formal opening taking place on Whit Monday 1954.
Unfortunately the first minute book which recorded activities before 1955 is not in the records. The main issues at the time were the laying on of water and electricity to the pavilion and the building of a wall to replace a grass bank in front of it. The water was eventually laid on during 1960.
From March 1957 there was unease about the future of the cricket ground. It was owned by the Manor and Mr Gibson was moving from the village. This was a long drawn out process which resulted in the club buying the field for £100. The boundary was determined by the existence of a small boggy hollow situated beside the current practice wicket.
The next burning issue was whether “outsiders” from Hornton should be allowed to join the club. It should be remembered that in those days the club was much more a part of the village life and all members lived, or had lived in the village. The Hornton club had recently disbanded and a number of key figures had moved away for “personal reasons” so it was agreed that new members could be admitted “as far as possible restricted to residents of Hornton”. In late 1960 Roy Taylor the first new member from Banbury was admitted to the club. Over the next few years others joined the club and those from outside of Horley still required formal acceptance as members.
That winter the members levelled the square which had got into a bad state of repair. This was a major issue in the early sixties during which an expert from the Midland Cricket Club Conference visited to advise on ground preparation. Water was laid on to the square in 1969.
The next development was the introduction of Sunday Cricket in 1968. Only eight matches were organised in the first season to avoid the six-a-side tournaments that flourished at the time. Eric Hillman was the first Sunday Captain and also has the distinction of the first Horley centurion during 1967.
The seventies saw success in night Cup competitions starting with defeat in the Peter Strong Final of 1970. In 1971 Horley lost to Middleton Cheney in the Banbury Advertiser Cup Final – heavy traffic prevented two players from returning from holiday for the game which is reported in the display. Eventual success came in 1978 with victories in both Jubilee and Brackley Advertiser Cup Finals. 1981 saw the Banbury Advertiser Cup won as League cricket came to the fore.
The early eighties were a key period in the clubs’ history. The team were fairly successful by then and in 1980 a second team was started. This was brought about by the withdrawal of Alcan from the Banbury League. The interest generated by this move led to the entry into the O.C.A in 1981. The first season brought a league title in a play-off . The club joined the Premier League in 1983 and the seconds moved to the O.C.A in 1985.
Off the field there were also some major developments. The arrival of Bryan King proved the catalyst for the improvements. He masterminded the fund-raising for the Pavilion extension built in 1981 and arranged the sponsorship with the Yorkshire Bank, which resulted in the first scorebox. He also established the Tour weeks, which became a feature of the decade. The northern boundary fence was straightened in 1980 with the wall marking its former elbow. The bar was put into the pavilion in 1982.
In 1987 John Mantle arrived to take over as First Team Captain. This sparked off a series of events and led to a turbulent season. Four regular first team players found themselves playing in a strong second eleven, which performed the league and cup double. John resigned in mid-August but the club took a number of years to get over the events of that season.
The following year saw the arrival of Terry Clark whose enthusiasm and commitment has led to the development of the Youth Cricket upon which the future of the club is based. With the able assistance of Richard Hart and many others the U13 and U16 sides have been successful through the nineties while the League teams have consolidated their position in the Premier League. In 1995 the club made an ill-fated application to join the Cherwell League. Meanwhile off the field the Gents toilets had been upgraded and a new and sturdier scorebox had been erected in a Range Rover proof position – complete with new numbers acquired from Banbury C.C. The Bosch sponsorship which made this possible is also a feature of the nineties.
The new decade saw the Club consolidating it’s position in the Oxfordshire Cricket Association League of which Brian Standish a great supporter of the Club was Chairman. Both First and Second teams continued to make great strides forwards with many of the players continuing to be local residents. In 2007 the Club purchased extra land to enable them to extend the playing field. Over the next few years through hard work and fundraising the club purchased new sight screens, wicket covers and nets all which have enhanced the ground. The youth teams have contiuned to thrive under the leadership of Richard Hart so much so that in 2013 we had to close our list to new junior members – our reputation for good coaching is reknowned in the Oxfordshire area.
In 2012 the First team won the OCA League and in doing so were able to apply again for membership to the Cherwell League. On this occasion due to the improvements the Club had made over the previous years the application was accepted. The teams went into divisions 5 and 9 and in the first season both won promotion. In 2013 the first team played in Division 4 and the seconds in Division 8, the seconds went onto win promotion again and will play in Division 7 in 2014.
Now the Club is looking to the future again and the current committee have agreed that the way forward is to build a new pavilion which will re-affirm the Club’s position in the village for decades to come.