Lilley Cricket Club in it’s modern form was re-formed in 1976 after some years of inactivity. Lilley village cricket club’s original roots though stretch back over a century and it has a very proud heritage.
The club’s early years saw games played in the meadow belonging to the Lilley Arms Inn, still a big supporter of the club, and perhaps more famously, the Club played at what was regarded as one of the most beautiful grounds for miles, Putteridge Park. The earliest recorded fixtures at the Park were in 1895 when Squire Thomas George was the president and Vice Presidents were G.B. Hudson MP, F.W. Fellowes, F.H.A. Sowerby, H.J. Sowerby, E.A. Haviland and R.H Haviland. The treasurer was E. Trussell, the Secretary O. Bodsworth with the committee formed by C. Stillwell, H. Trussell, V. Hawkins, H. Payne, W. Toyer and W. Atwood. Fixtures were played between 1st June and 31st August against Kings Walden, Caddington, Whitwell, Kimpton, Silsoe, Luton St. Matthews and were all played twice.
Post World War One, Charles Toyer was the Lilley star player. A dogged batsman, he would often carry his bat as opener. He was involved in an incident recalled in Roy Pinnock’s excellent book, ‘Between The Hills – the story of Lilley, a Chiltern village’. In a game against Hexton, Toyer played the ball and having done so picked it up and threw it back to the bowler. Hexton controversially appealed and the umpire had to give him out ‘handled ball’. The incident caused much animosity between the two local rivals for years!
Around this time, Ernie Payne played three seasons without missing a match and the wonderfully named Squire Thomas George was so good in bat, each time he took the field he placed a shilling on the bails and challenge any bowler to knock it off while he was batting. The prize for the bowler? The shilling of course. But it rarely happened.
Away fixtures in these days were reached in an alternative bus – a horse-drawn brake!
Later, the club moved their home ground to what is now the Geoff Banks Smith Memorial Cricket Ground, which together with the football pitch was given to the village by Thomas Meadows Clutterbuck. At the invitation of Sir Felix Cassell, the club then moved back to Putteridge Park. Cassell always looked after Lilley folk and before his death donated £5,000 to the village to build the village hall – the Cassell Village Hall. Sir Felix himself was a big cricket fan and often sat and watched the games within his park, occasionally providing the tea on Bank Holidays. After games at Putteridge, players would meet at the Silver Lion, Lilley’s other public house, for bread, cheese, dominoes, darts and bitter!
The photos contained within this page and much of the content derive from Roy Pinnock’s book ‘Between The Hills – the story of Lilley, a Chiltern village’. Mr Pinnock provides a fascinating guide to Lilley life throughout the years, without which many stories and historical pieces from the village would be lost forever. The book is available at The Book Castle in Dunstable, Beds (the publishers) or via http://www.amazon.co.uk
To find out more about Lilley village click here.