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A History of Seaford Cricket

Whilst Seaford Cricket Club cannot boast the patronage of a Lord Gage or Sheffield, which has been to the advantage of other teams in the Ouse valley: competitive cricket was played in the town during the 18th Century. The earliest written records are from Sussex newspapers of the day collected and published by T McCann in “Sussex Cricket in the 18th Century” as follows:
15 & 16th May 1776 Gentlemen farmers’ sons on the east side of the Lewes River versus those on the west side: Blatchington Down Seaford. On Wednesday next a cricket match will be played on Blatchington Down near Seaford for twenty two guineas.
Sussex Weekly Advertiser (SWA) 27th May The cricket match played on Wednesday and Thursday last on Blatchington Down ended in favour of those on the west side by 31 notches (early cricket scorers kept a record by making notches in a stick).
17th July 1778 Gentleman of Seaford versus Gentlemen of Hailsham: Greenstreet near Seaford. On Friday next the 17th instant a match at cricket, the Gentlemen of Seaford against the Gentlemen of Hailsham for one guinea each man. The wickets to be pitched exactly at twelve o’clock. A cold collation on the hill, at one o’clock. SWA 13th July
15th July 1800 Sussex Regiment versus Cinque Port Volunteers. On Tuesday last a grand match of cricket was played near Seaford by seven officers belonging to the Sussex Regiment, commanded by Lt Col Pelham and four gentlemen of the neighbourhood, - against eight officers of the Corps of the Cinque Port Volunteers, under the command of Thomas Henry Harben Esq., and three gentlemen, which was won by the latter; Volunteers having beaten the Militia by 18 runs. The return match is to be played at Alfriston, on Monday next. SWA 21st July 1800.
Cricket in the eighteenth century was a very different spectacle and as the game developed on the Weald and Downs it was natural that matches were often staged on open undulating down land. Also money matches were popular and even these local games were for large sums by the standards of the day; and the press were seemingly more interested in that aspect than the actual score. Importantly the matches were also a means for local publicans to make money so provision of food and drink for the spectators and players became an integral part of the sport: a tradition which is enshrined in modern cricket.
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Cricket matches were also played on the ground adjoining ‘The Old Tree’ at the corner of Broad Street and High Street in 18th/19th century. Source Michael Lovesay.
The earliest written record from the nineteenth century is in the book – Seaford’s past glories - written by Walter Wynter and published in 1922. It relates that on May 5th 1865 “Eleven of the Seaford Artillery Volunteers went to Hailsham to play a cricket match with a team chosen from the Hailsham and Eastbourne detachment. The Seaford team were the victors with several wickets to go down. After the game, a most convivial evening was spent, the Seaford team arriving home early the following morning.”
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The earliest known drawing is by HH Evans and shows a cricket match on ground (Martello fields) behind the Bath house/Assembly rooms (built in 1870 and demolished by 1890). Published in the book ‘A Seaford Sketchbook’. Courtesy Seaford Museum.

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The earliest record of a scorecard from a home match is August 1879 when Seaford residents played visitors including a certain L Crook (Arthur Haygarth Vol 16). Over two innings the residents won by 9 wickets and bowled the visitors out for 1 run in the first inning!
William Troughton played for the residents: his son Lionel H W Troughton - played for MCC and captained Kent – was born Seaford 17th May 1879. John Major Sussex CC also played for the residents that day. Lewis Crook, subsequently a well known Seaford resident and president of the first recorded cricket club opened the batting for the visitors and collected a pair!
Score card
Seaford Residents v Seaford Visitors
Other matches in England 1879

Venue Seaford on 14th August 1879 (1-day match)
Balls per over 4
Players 12 per side
Toss Toss not known
Result Seaford Residents won by 9 wickets
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Seaford Residents first innings Runs Balls Mins 4s 6s
G Green
st Fleet b Saunders 0
R Tuppen c Fleet b [unknown]10
de St Croix c Speck b [unknown] 1
F Kennett c sub b Saunders 0
L Harrison c Halliburton b [unknown] 16
WH Troughton c Speck b [unknown] 12
J Major c Fleet b [unknown] 7
H Sargeant b Saunders 0
P Morling c and b Saunders 4
R Underwood c Fleet b [unknown] 0
WH Pawson c Speck b [unknown]1
Woodhall not out 0
Extras 10
Total (all out) 61
Fall of wickets:
1-?, 2-?, 3-?, 4-?, 5-?, 6-?, 7-?, 8-?, 9-?, 10-?, 11-61
Seaford Visitors bowling Overs Mdns Runs Wkts Wides No-Balls
Saunders
? ? ? 4 - -
[unknown] ? ? ? 7 - -
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Seaford Visitors first innings Runs Balls Mins 4s 6s
L Crook c Major b Green 0
JH Speck b Green 0
JM Eustace c Sargeant b Harrison 0
+A Fleet b Harrison 0
A Saunders b Harrison 0
J Green c Woodhall b Harrison 0
Carpenter b Green 0
Halliburton b Green 0
Denham b Harrison 0
Frost c Tuppen b Harrison 0
Edwards c Major b Green 0
Barton not out 0
Extras (1 b) 1
Total (all out) 1
Fall of wickets:
1-1, 2-1, 3-1, 4-1, 5-1, 6-1, 7-1, 8-1, 9-1, 10-1, 11-1
Seaford Residents bowling Overs Mdns Runs Wkts Wides No-Balls
Green
? ? ? 5 - -
Harrison
? ? ? 6 - -
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Seaford Visitors second innings (following on) Runs Balls Mins 4s 6s
L Crook c Major b Green 0
JH Speck b Harrison 2
JM Eustace c Sargeant b Harrison 3
+A Fleet c Green b Sargeant 25
A Saunders run out 3
J Green c Pawson b Harrison 0
Carpenter not out 4
Halliburton b Green 1
Denham c Tuppen b Green 0
Frost c Major b Tuppen 30
Edwards c Pawson b Green 0
Barton b Harrison 1
Extras (2 b) 2
Total (all out) 71
Fall of wickets:
1-?, 2-?, 3-?, 4-?, 5-?, 6-?, 7-?, 8-?, 9-?, 10-?, 11-71
Seaford Residents bowling Overs Mdns Runs Wkts Wides No-Balls
Green
? ? ? 4 - -
Harrison
? ? ? 4 - -
Sargeant
? ? ? 1 - -
Tuppen
? ? ? 1 - -
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Seaford Residents second innings Runs Balls Mins 4s 6s
[unknown]
G Green did not bat
R Tuppen did not bat
de St Croix did not bat
F Kennett did not bat
L Harrison did not bat
WH Troughton did not bat
J Major did not bat
H Sargeant did not bat
P Morling did not bat
R Underwood did not bat
WH Pawson did not bat
Extras
Total (2 wickets) 13

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Our thanks to Arthur Haygarth for collecting the information and to Roger Heavens for providing this scorecard which was first published in Arthur Haygarth's Cricket Scores and Biographies Volume 16.
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The date of the current cricket club’s origin is not at all clear. Pat Berry (local historian) in a newspaper article refers to Major Lewis Crook as the President of the cricket club which seems to have been established in 1891/2 by members of the local “Sussex Volunteers C Company” which also spawned the football club and fire brigade. However, the cricket club has an old bat which, according to the engraved plaque was awarded to T Woolgar for the highest batting average in 1881 for Seaford Cricket Club.
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The earliest known photo of a game in progress is from Seaford museum and believed to date from 1895.


A later Frith picture taken in 1900 shows a game from a different aspect on the same land adjoining College road on the western side and Cricketfield road to the east. Its position can be pinpointed by the location of the crenulated garden wall of Saxon Lodge in the background. Other photos exist of the ground but not with matches in progress, the site has since been built on but a small undeveloped section remains on the College road side.

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Excerpt Ward Lock & Co guide to Eastbourne 1900-1901

On the land of the Seaford Bay Estate Company have also been erected a number of picturesque and substantial bungalows, which skirt the cricket ground and add greatly to the attractive appearance of the place. (The house on the corner of Cricketfield and Steyne Road was the last remnant of that development and was demolished in 2010).
Visitors may also secure a good game of tennis. The courts are excellent and well-kept. There is also a Lawn Tennis Club at Blatchington, a village a few miles away. Cricket and golf can also be played. The Golf Links are one of the town's chief attractions, and have materially helped its rapid growth. They extend over some hundred acres, on the hill adjacent to the town. There is a very
large and influential Golf Club, to which, besides local members, several hundreds of Londoners belong. The Cricket Club is also in a flourishing condition.

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By 1912 another guide (source not confirmed) states that the cricket club played their games at East Blatchington. This was on land previously called New Field and situated to the west of Alces place on Firle road. It is possible that this was close to the site of the 18th century pitch. Cricket matches were curtailed by the outbreak of war and in March 1915 the cricket ground in East Blatchington was sold for development as recorded in the County archives and may have been incorporated into the Kings Mead school playing fields which bordered Belgrave road. This picture of the school from the 1930’s gives a glimpse of its possible location. The proceeds of the sale were used for the development of cricket in the town (source Michael Lovesay).


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Following the completion of the Salts recreation ground development in 1923 cricket was played there and a photo post card from 1940/50’s shows a game in progress. It may not be the most picturesque ground but does have the distinction of being one of the lowest as it is below sea level.

Published by CR Richter.
The town museum has a number of posters from the 1940/50’s which shows the Salts played host to a cricket week and on one occasion in 1949 Jack Hobbs umpired a festival match.

During cricket week in 1956 Seaford played host to the Seagull’s, a local team that was started by schoolteachers in the town. This club still plays its home games on Sundays at Newlands School.
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For many years facilities at the Salts were very basic as no Cricket Pavilion was available and before the changing rooms were opened around 1970, players used the Eversley Hotel (now called the Beachcomber). Eventually in 1987/8 the club was able to finance the building of a clubhouse at the Salts and in 2010 an extension has been completed to cope with the growing number of players and members who regularly use the facilities.
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Our current President is Rupert Webb who was a specialist wicket keeper, playing for Sussex in more than 250 matches and after retiring in 1960 used to play for Seaford.
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Over the years the club has lost a lot of its records; partly because it has only relatively recently been able to boast a permanent home at the Salts. If anyone has records or memorabilia relating to the club we would love to see them, particularly photographs and score books, even old equipment!
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Where next?

19th Century Seaford Cricket Since the History of Seaford Cricket Document was put together, a number of newspaper articles have

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