In the cricketing heyday of the 18th and 19th centuries Ware was a very wealthy town, with vast sums of money made from the production of malt. Cricket was a very different game then too, enjoyed by the newly moneyed maltsters alongside the aristocracy and games were often played for very high stakes. In 1768, a game was played against Epping for the stake of £50, some £7500 using today's valuation. The record of the game states;
"On Monday se'nnight was played at Ware in Hertfordshire, a match of cricket for £50 between eleven of that town and eleven of Epping. The Epping side went in first and scored 95 notches, night coming on, the match was deferred 'till the next day. When Ware went in, their first four fetched fourscore, which occasioned the bets to rise to 10-1 against Epping, but to the amazement of the spectators the other six men were bowled out for one notch; good bowling."
Another record exists of a two game series between Ware and Hertfordshire at Mr Brand's Park, played on the 14th and 19th of June in 1785. Ware won both the games against the county, the first by 82 runs and the second by 115!
In 1802 a match between Ware and Hertfordshire at Tewin was watched by 1500 people!
Of course, the greatest rivalry was always historically between Ware and Hertford and their comprehensive records show many encounters between our clubs. It's quite obvious the great men of Ware were not used to losing against their bitter rivals either. After a game between the clubs in 1788 which Hertford won a local man 'in a paroxysm of rage and vexation, went home and burnt his breeches.'
It's not yet known why Ware CC ceased to exist after the Second World War, but in 1948 the Old Hertfordians CC, the modern forerunner to our club was formed by members of the now Hertford rugby club who having acquired the site at Hoe Lane, Ware thought it would be a good idea to keep the bar open during the summer. Initially facilities were very basic. The cricket was played on a strip of coconut matting laid out on the rugby pitch and attempts were made to cut the outfield with a small hand mower (rather like painting the forth bridge) except when they could persuade the adjoining golf club to pop through the hedge with their tractor.
The buildings were two ex-army wooden huts - one for changing and one for socialising. The bar hut saw many an enjoyable day (and evening) with the stock consisting of a few wooden barrels that had to be set up days in advance before use by drawing off the beer from a tap, plus a few bottles of light and brown ale and a bottle of scotch and gin. Initially the bar had no shutters and in any case it was well known that the key to the bar was always kept on the top of the cistern in the ladies toilet.
Due to the incredible success of Hertford Rugby Club coupled with the ever expanding rugby season, Ware Cricket Club parted company with the Hale Club facilities at the end of 2002. The cricket club was unfortunately not able to secure a new ground and was saved from closure by Richard Hale School, allowing the club to use the school field. Thus the OH club returned to its "roots" for two seasons using the changing and playing facilities at the school coupled with the hospitality offered by the The White Horse, Castle Street, Hertford who provided teas and post match refreshments.
Unfortunately the strict rules and demands of league cricket meant that the school ground, with its multi-sports facilities, was struggling to meet the League's exacting standards. With the club's future once again looking uncertain, the club secured a lease at the picturesque cricket ground in Widford from the start of the 2005 season.
A Wikipedia page is being developed to chart the history of Ware CC here - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ware_Cricket_Club so keep an eye on the website for more information.
I, Jonathan Little, am the author of this article, (a potted history of cricket in ware), and I release its content under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 and later, and the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.