In 1875 Ashtead was a small village with just over one thousand inhabitants. There was no cricket club, but games were played on the Common, north of the railway, and also on the Dene fields between The Street and Dene Road. Gradually a club became established, with the Dene field as its headquarters, but all matches were played between members of the Club and none against other clubs.
In 1880, Mr Thomas Lucas bought Ashtead Park and laid out a private cricket ground. During the next six years he invited the Village Club to play several matches against his own teams.
In the winter of 1886 Mr Lucas rented a large area of land on the east of Woodfield Lane and appropriated part of it for the Village Cricket Club. On 9th March 1887 a meeting of local inhabitants was held. Over fifty attended and Ashtead Cricket Club as it exists today was founded with forty four members. The annual subscription was 2/6d which included half the cost of luncheons. It appears from the records that the old Club was absorbed into the new one as assets of £1.14.4d and debts of £2.8s were taken over. Mr Lucas's son, Arthur, provided a box of materials, a sum of £15 was raised by four concerts in Easter week 1887.
Mr Arthur Lucas became the first President, and on Whit Monday 1887 Ashtead celebrated its first match by beating Leatherhead. The teams were entertained to lunch by the President's father, and Mrs Peake of Howard House who provided tea for 200 spectators. In 1888 the Rector, the Rev. F.G.L. Lucas became captain of the team.
In that year eight matches were played and the team ventured as far as Cobham in a wagonette at a cost of £2. The game at Epsom was marred by two incidents. First the opponents arrived about an hour late, and secondly the pitch was about a yard too long. The Rector headed the average for the season, and the curate was second. On the financial side, the Club showed a satisfactory profit of 10s 7d for the first two years.
Mr Milne, the curate, was also a keen polo player and lent his horses to the Cricket Club to pull the roller on the ground. He left the district in 1889 and in choosing his successor the Rector was careful not to overlook the requirements of the Cricket Club. The new Curate, Rev. Green Price, promptly became Secretary and Treasurer and headed the averages for the next two years with 56 and 71. In partnership with
Hon. d'Arcy Lambton he helped to put up the Club's record score of 358 for 4 against Mr Ralli's team. The following week they made 282 for 1 against Epsom, each scoring a century again.
The fixture list for 1889 gave fourteen matches. The Club began to get on its feet, and new vigour was given by the arrival of Mr Pantia Ralli who had bought Ashtead Park from Sir Thomas Lucas.
In 1890 the Boys Cricket Club was formed with a subscription 1/- and Oliver Goldsmith was elected Captain, with Harry Sayer Vice Captain.
The Club Pavilion at this time was situated just above where the nets are now, this area during the second world war became allotments. The spectators at the Pavilion were facing directly into the setting sun, and in 1891 estimates were obtained for a new pavilion. These proved to be too high and it was decided to move the whole structure to its present position, at a cost of £4.3s. A new pavilion was erected in 1900 & remained substantially the same until 2009, although it was added to & enlarged. In 2009 the pavilion was demolished & a new one erected.
Teas were supplied in a tent provided by the Rector, but in 1899 he decided to dispose of it and the Club bought it for £5. The tent served its purpose until 1909 when a wooden hut was put up which survived until in 1954 a new and larger hut was erected. Both huts survived until the Pavilion rebuild & Club revamp in 2009, one behind the other, but were used for storage, teas being served in the pavilion.
In 1896 the Committee selected light blue and maroon as the club's colours and the club cap could be purchased from the Secretary for one shilling but the colours were changed to dark green and yellow in 1899.
The next year marked the first of many matches against St John's School Leatherhead, who beat Ashtead and the club recorded its first tie against Cheam when each side scored 90 runs. For the first time the Ashtead Tennis Club hired part of the ground and played on what is now the bowling green.
Mr Ralli's lease on the ground expired in 1898 and the Club negotiated with the owners and a new lease for a term of seven years at a rental of £10 per annum. At the same time a footpath across the ground was closed. The additional expense was met by renting part of the ground to the Tennis Club during the summer, the Football Club in the winter, and later to the Ladies Hockey Club.
The 1907 season is an important one in the history of the Club as, although reports of matches are scarce, the records note that amongst those who played insufficient games to qualify for inclusion in the averages was Colin McIver who had one innings of 146 not out He must have been a guest player at the time, because he was not elected to membership until November 1908.
The first match against Dorking was played the following year and resulted in a thrilling win for Ashtead, who batted first and made 34. Dorking's opening pair put on 21, but the last 9 wickets added only 9.
In the early part of the century the ground was the venue for various parochial functions. In 1902 for instance, King Edward VII's coronation celebrations were centred there, and several village fetes were held on the ground. In later years the Club raised sums of well over £200 for the Red Cross during the second world war in matches against the British Empire X1 inflicting a rare defeat over that side in 1942 and only losing by 34 runs in 1943.
It was not easy to restart the Club after the First World War but Colin McIver made himself responsible for bring a strong side each year for the Groundsman's Benefit match. In 1921 his team, including D.R. Jardine, A.F.O. Chapman and Rev. F.H. Gillingham narrowly won, thanks chiefly to an innings of 47 not out by H.D.G. Leweson Gower.
It was about this time that Mrs Davie, the wife of the groundsman, Fred Davie, began to supply teas for the teams which continued until the late 1950s. Wartime restrictions never caused her to fail to provide what became renowned as one of the finest teas for cricketers.
In 1927 Pantia Ralli died, and it came as a great shock to the Club to learn that the Ashtead Land Company had an option to buy back the freehold of the ground in 1933 for £2,000. It was obvious that if this happened the ground would be built on. The Club received much support from Local inhabitants in its efforts to stop this happening and in 1928 the Ashtead Sports Club Ltd was formed.
The objects of the Company were to buy the freehold of the ground and also the option, to prevent the cricket field being built on and to preserve it for recreation and sport. The authorised capital of the company was £3,500 in £1 shares of which 2,241 were issued. Such was the support of residents that the option was bought for £952.10s in 1929 and in 1931 the freehold was acquired for £1,500 from Mrs Pantia Ralli. It is sad to record that Mr. H. Willis who had taken such an active part in the management of the Club throughout twenty difficult years, and was partly responsible for the formation of the Company died before the success of the scheme was complete.
Lord Ebbisham became President in 1928 and for the next ten years the match against his XI was the highlight of the fixture list. He always brought an attractive side of International test stars.
The future of the Cricket Club became more secure in 1937 when the Ashtead Sports Club granted a lease of 99 years to the Club, at a rental of £20 a year, a condition being that the Cricket Club should sub-let part of the ground to Ashtead Bowls Club.
At the outbreak of war in 1939 a sub-committee was formed to run the club and ground during the war. Great credit is due to Reg. Cooper and Fred Bailey for the way they looked after the ground during those critical years.
Under the enthusiastic leadership of Colin McIver, who succeeded Lord Ebbisham as President, the Club continued throughout the war to field two sides each weekend, although playing membership dropped to 18, and he also found time to encourage the Ashtead boys, for who he arranged practices and matches, until his sudden death in 1954. For many years before he became President in 1948, he was Chairman of the committee and under his guidance various improvements were made. The Pavilion was enlarged, a new changing room built, hot showers installed and the pavilion was connected to main drainage and a new tea hut was built. All these improvements had been paid for with money raised by a series of successful sweepstakes run by Cecil Weller.
In those post war years new records were made. In 1947 252 runs were scored for the loss of only two wickets against Sutton, Cecil Weller being responsible for 162 undefeated. He made over 250 runs in the 1950 three August Bank Holiday fixtures. In contrast, the lowest recorded score of the Club was 12, made against Cheam in 1899.
In 1952 Cecil Weller made a chanceless century against Mr. H.D.G. Leweson Gower's side, the only century made by an Ashtead player in the post war series of "big matches", although R.A. Robertson came near in 1954 with 96. In 1953 Cecil Weller scored the only double century recorded in the Club's history making 203 not out of a total of 325 for 4 against Esher and this remained the only double century recorded in the club's history until Dominic Sibley scored exactly 200 against Weybridge in the Surrey Premier League at Woodfield Lane at the age of only 15. Dominic received a Surrey CCC contract 3 years later and in his 3rd County Championship game scored 242 against Yorkshire, becoming the youngest to score a century for Surrey and the youngest in the County Championship to score a double century.
In 1960 further repairs were made to the pavilion including a new roof and floor and in 1966 a building fund was established enabling a groundsman's bungalow to be built and further improvements to the pavilion in 1972. The bungalow is now accommodation for the club's overseas professional.
Following the tragic year of 1954 when both Colin Mc Iver and H.D.G. Leweson Gower died, Gerald E.V. Crutchley and then Michael Melford of the Sunday Telegraph took over the bringing to Ashtead an international side for the big game. They attracted many famous names, including Denis Compton, Peter May, Richie Benaud, Colin Cowdrey, Jack Bailey, Hubert Doggart and Brian Johnson.
The Club's President during this time was R.A. Robertson, one of the most technically correct batsmen to have played for the Club, and in 1979 set a new trend by retiring as President as opposed to dying in harness. John Renwick succeeded, another gifted batsman and past Captain of the Club. He retired to live in the Isle of Wight, and handed the presidential reins to David Savin, who tragically died after only a few months in office. He was succeeded by Peter Thorne in 1991, and he became the third president to step down in 2006 in favour of Chris Weller.
During the 1950s and 1960s the Club maintained a strong fixture list, and on Sundays entertained many leading wandering sides, playing all day games against Grasshoppers, Musketeers, Frogs, Romany, Emeriti, Jesters, Buccaneers and Nomads. Port was usually imbibed at lunchtime, and was known to have changed the course of a game or two! Throughout those years, the leading players were John Renwick, Keith Harding, Grant Brown, Michael Skinner, Richard Cheveley, Peter Thorne, Chris Weller and David Savin.
The Club was a founder member of the Surrey Cricketers League, formed in 1971 which merged into the Surrey Championship League and the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th X1s continue to play league cricket on Saturdays. In the early days league cricket was not welcomed by all playing and past players - "we play for pints not points" was a typical comment.
The Club experienced mixed fortunes in their venture into league, holding their own for a number of years, usually finishing around mid table. In those years the Club was blessed with a formidable opening attack of Michael Post and Paul Smith, supported on the batting side by Peter Thorne, Richard Cheveley, Chris Weller, Peter Granger and Roger Wilkins.
Since the 1990s the Club has seen the benefit of a number of outstanding overseas cricketers, including Amir Nazir who had previously opened the bowling for Pakistan and who broke the league record by taking all ten wickets for fifteen runs in a league match against Alleyn Old Boys. More recently, the Club has formed a special relationship with the New Zealand Club side East Christchurch Shirley Cricket Club, providing overseas players Carl Anderson, Brandon Hiini, Andrew Ellis and Andrew King. Andrew King remained in this country and was Club Captain for eight years. He saw the Club's disappointment at being relegated to the Fuller's League and the subsequent rise, with three promotions to the First Division of the Surrey Championship. After a narrow miss in 2008, the 1st was promoted to the Premiership in 2009, under Captain Jamie Powell.
Junior Cricket has come a long way from the days of Colin McIver who was succeeded as Colts organiser by Arthur Salter and Peter Shelley. Since the mid 1990s the Club's junior membership has burgeoned to almost 300 cricketers aged between 8 and 18. For three seasons the Under 15 side won their league title and in 2005 completed the double of the League and Cup. The Club enters with Mid Surrey & West Surrey Colt leagues with success in many age groups and entry in Friendly league competitions since 2008 too to allow all abilities to experience competitive cricket. The club also runs a Girls section that has grown in numbers since its formation.
David Howells, with the assistance of a number of Club members who have qualified as coaches, has overseen this expansion and the Club is now beginning to reap the rewards of this investment by seeing a number of these young cricketers playing for the senior sides, notably four of whom played in the 2009 promotion winning 1st XI final match of the season. Increasing bureaucracy off the field has meant significant behind-the-scenes admin, much of it by Sarah Culhane, mother of three teen players, & including the Club's achievement of Clubmark status & being appointed a Surrey Focus Club.
The Club has been fortunate over many years to have had a number of Club members who have given up much of their spare time to the Club as members of the Committee. For the past number of years Richard Laudy has been a dynamic Chairman and with the Club Captain Andrew King, have overseen the Club's recent resurgence.
The Club is also fortunate in owning one of the most picturesque grounds in Surrey which has changed little over the past one hundred years and has been nurtured over the past ten years by the efforts of (Club members) Chris Weller and Ken Pearce.
In recent years the much loved pavilion needed replacing and the Club's plans to build a new Club House on the present site came to eventual fruition in 2009. Fund raising had begun not long after the millennium with four seasons of annual matches against Lashings Cricket Club whose team included many current and past international test cricketers. These each attracted around 2,000 spectators to the ground, not only raising funds for the club, but also elevating the Club's profile locally.
Former president Peter Thorne masterminded the Pavilion Project and Ashtead was Surrey Cricket's Flagship Club for NatWest Cricket Force 2009 where 500 volunteers, managed by Club member & Colts' dad, Alan Culff, alongside Monty Panesar, Mike Gatting, Graeme Swann, the World Cup winning England Ladies and the Surrey 1st XI, completed many tasks to supplement the half built pavilion. In June 2009 Micky Stewart formally opened the building.
In 2014, the club saw its biggest day, as it reached the final of the National T20 Competition held at Northants CCC in September. An amazing cup run saw us win the Surrey T20 on the way to the final but were beaten in the floodlit final by Chester Boughton Hall, runners up out of over 700 club's was an amazing achievement.
In 2016, the club will have the 1st, 2nd and 3rd XIs playing in their respective Premier Leagues and the 4th XI on Saturday's playing in their Division 1 league.
The Club has never been in better health & welcomes new members, both playing & social where a warm welcome is ensured.