About Theale and Tilehurst Cricket Club
History of Tilehurst CC by Brian Cooper
In its introductory piece in the 1991 Berkshire Cricket League handbook
the following was said about the formation of Tilehurst CC:
|“Tilehurst Cricket Club began
life as a nomadic side, and so it is
difficult to date when the club was actually formed, but in local
history books there is reference to a drawn match with another local
side way back in 1887.”
In fact Tilehurst CC was playing before 1887. In his book “Bats,
Balls and Biscuits” Martin Bishop records the fixtures for the Reading
Biscuit Factory CC for the 1883 season; their opponents on 30th June
were Tilehurst CC with the fixture being repeated on 17th May
1884. Both of these games were scheduled to be played at the
Reading Biscuits Factory CC ground which was likely to be Kings Meadow.
Tilehurst CC’s first known home ground was in Church End Lane. However, the dates it played on this ground and its precise location are unclear although it seems likely the venue was the Moorlands Recreation Ground behind where Moorlands Primary School now is.
In her book “Tilehurst” Sue Handscomb writes that Victoria Recreation Ground came into being in 1897 when the local Poor’s Land Charity took over what had been grazing land and created the recreation ground to mark Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. How soon after this cricket was being played on the recreation ground or Tilehurst took up residence is unknown.
In 1899 the Club was presented with a Challenge Cup by the Revered HB
Wilder; what the challenge was and who against is unknown. It
seems that the Revered Wilder, the Rector of Sulham (one of a long
lines of Wilders who were Rector at Sulham from 1823-1944), was a keen
supporter of community activities and local sport. The cup is
still used by Theale and Tilehurst CC as the 1st XI batting cup.
Entry in to League Cricket
The Reading and District Cricket League had been formed in 1897 with
Tilehurst CC joining the league for the 1900 season; there were 18
clubs in the league that season. In its season preview on 12th
May 1900 the Berkshire Chronicle said of Tilehurst CC:
are untried, but they have done well in friendly games, and have a lot
of locals to select from.”
The season didn’t start well with Tilehurst CC losing their first
league game against Grovelands CC by an innings and 9 runs. The
Berkshire Chronicle report said of the game:
|“Tilehurst were but poorly
represented, several of their best players
not having signed the required fourteen days, and they had to play ten
It was not until the 11th August that league victory was tasted in what
was their final league game of the season. Playing at home they
successfully defended 29 by bowling Henley out for 17. Tilehurst
finished the season losing nine and winning one of their ten league
matches and they were relegated to division 2; quite why they had not
started in division 2 is not explained.
The 1907 season, by when they certainly were playing at Victoria
Recreation Ground, was a better year as Tilehurst finished runners-up
in Reading and District League Division 2. The successful team is
||Pictured right are the Tilehurst
CC team from 1907 in what is
recognisably the Victoria Recreation Ground. They are:
Back row (left to right)
A Pew; L Parsons; PH Caulfield; T Hatherall;
R Chapman; NH Saul (Capt.); Rev RH Cooper Smith DD
(President); EA Hetherington (Hon Sec.) P Williams
G Harris; W Wakefield
H Parsons (left); JM Reed (top); T Parsons (right)
The season had come down to a deciding game against Wesley Guild on
31st August. The Berkshire Chronicle match Report reads:
Play-off and a Surprise
Hot favourites though the villagers were in Saturday’s play-off for the
championship of the Second Division of the League Tilehurst were forced
to admit defeat at the hands of Wesley Guild. The YMCA ground at
Liebenrood Road had been chosen for the venue, and an exciting struggle
was witnessed by quite a big and enthusiastic set of partisans.
Winning the toss Tilehurst batted first on what might be described as a
bumping wicket, and misfortune dogged their doings from the
Williams, one of their most valuable men, unluckily
playing on before he had “broken his duck”. Hetherington batted
steadily for 17, and the only other member of the team was Miles (13),
who owing to indisposition was allowed a substitute to run, while the
Parsons trio could only muster a single between them.
The innings closed for 61 and in effecting the favourites’ dismissal
for such a comparatively low total the credit must be largely given to
Miller, who claimed 5 wickets for 15. To the old Wyman’s
cricketer Wesley were in no small degree indebted for their victory,
for he followed up his bowling by a capital performance with the
Miller scored 26no with the bat and was “borne shoulder high from the
field amid hearty congratulations.”
There are no details of Tilehurst CC for the years of the 1st World War
but it seems likely that their history would have matched that of other
clubs. The 1914 season had started as normal but the outbreak of
war in August 1914 meant that the season did not reach its normal
conclusion as people’s attention turned to other matters. There
was some cricket played locally during the war but most of this seems
to have been one off matches featuring representative forces
teams. It seems likely that after the curtailed 1914 season
Tilehurst CC would not have been active in playing terms again until
the 1919 season at the earliest.
In the inter-war years Tilehurst CC were still playing in the Reading
and District Cricket League. By the 1921 season they were in the
bottom division (Division 2b) along with Old Wilsonians CC, CWS CC,
British Workman’s Institute CC and Castle Street Institute CC.
More familiar names such as Woodley, Sulhamstead, Peppard and Woodcote
were playing in other divisions. (Information taken from “Bats, Balls
and Biscuits” by Martin Bishop)
It is unlikely that there would have been a Sunday XI during this
period (or before) as at this time club cricket was played almost
exclusively on Saturdays with some mid-week cricket.
Second World War and After
What effect the Second World War had on the club and its ground is
unknown. It seems that local cricket was played at a greater
volume during the 2nd world war than it had been during the 1st world
war but this was inevitably reduced compared to peace time years.
The resumption of league cricket after the Second World War seems to
have been very slow with the Reading and District Cricket League only
having seven member clubs in the 1947 season. Tilehurst CC was
not amongst them although league cricket was being played on the
Victoria Recreation Ground by St Mary Magdalen CC. Tilehurst CC
continued playing friendly cricket and it seems that this continued in
to the early 1970s.
Whilst Tilehurst CC was not fielding teams in senior league cricket it
was fielding teams in the Minor and Youth Divisions of the Reading
Youth League from 1946.
Hampshire League Years 1973-1990
1973 the club
joined the newly formed Hampshire League and success
soon came with the winning of the North Division 2 Championship in
1975. Of the fifteen league games played that season Tilehurst CC
won 14 and lost one; there were two no results as well.
Leading the batting for the title winning team were G Deacon with 251
runs at 27.89 and Micky Hewitt with 362 runs at 27.85; leading the way
with the ball was Graham Edge with 45 wickets at 10.02. Mind you
that was only good enough for Graham to finish sixth in the divisional
bowling averages that season; it was a definitely more of a bowler’s
Below is a team picture from the 1973 season taken from an edition of
Tilehurst News. A copy of the full article is available from here
||The players are:
K Payne (umpire), M Clements, A Bunker,
B Denton, K Martin, M Dixon, J Burbedge,
J Naylor and I Denton (scorer)
P Lister, G Haden, A Pyke, G Eisenhauer
Success in the Hampshire League after 1975 was predominantly off the
field as the club was the Hampshire Cricket League Sports Quiz
champions six times between 1976 and 1984. Unfortunately there
were no other divisional titles on the field.
For their final season in the Hampshire League Tilehurst 1sts were
playing in North Hampshire Regional Division 1 with the 2nds in the
The decision to leave the Hampshire League was prompted by the League’s
reorganisation and inclusion in the overall pyramid structure along
with the Southern League. This meant that there would have been
significantly longer journeys to games so the decision was taken to
join the Berkshire League.
In the early and mid 1980s Tilehurst CC had a strong and successful
youth section that was run by Mike Dixon, Alan Pyke and Chris Startup.
Details of the successful 1983 and 1984 seasons are available at:
u13 County Champions 1983
u13 South of England Champions 1984
In addition to this success the Tilehurst juniors were also the
Hampshire League u16 Colt’s Champions in 1981 and won the u13 Berkshire
County Championship again in 1985 when they beat Windsor Victoria CC in
1985 was also a good season for the u15s as Tilehurst CC won the local Sunlife of Canada Cup beating Theale in a low scoring final; Tilehurst CC scored 57 all out but Theale could only manage 39 all out in reply. In the same season the u15s also made the Berkshire Finals of the Harry Secombe Cup beating Compton by four runs in the semi final (Tilehurst 86-7, Compton 82-7). The result of the final is not available.
Attempts to Improve the Victoria Recreation Ground
The Victoria Recreation Ground since its creation has been owned by the
Tilehurst Poor’s Land Charity and leased to Reading Borough Council.
Initially the cricket club had its own pavilion but in 1982 this was
demolished to be replaced by what at the time was intended to be a
temporary measure of converting two metal containers into changing
early 1990s the cricket club, along with Tilehurst FC and the
Tilehurst Club FC, sought to take greater responsibility for the
Victoria Recreation Ground to improve the facilities provided.
The redevelopment of the pavilion (metal containers) was perhaps
unsurprisingly the intended first phase of the improvements.
Unfortunately these plans came to nothing; partly due to a lack of
funds and partly due to a public outcry where concern was expressed
over continuing public access to the recreation ground on match days.
Throughout this period the pitch continued to be prepared by the
council, with considerably varying results, and the pavilion continued
to be the metal containers that remain there to this day.
Berkshire League Years 1991-1996
Tilehurst CC’s first season in the Berkshire League was in 1991 when it
played in Division 3 of the 1st XI competition and Division 2 of the
2nd XI competition (the same divisions as the respective Theale sides
As with when Tilehurst CC joined the Hampshire League on field success
soon followed as the 2nd XI won Division 2 in 1992.
the combination of inadequate facilities and a lack of
on-field playing success meant that the club struggled to retain some
of its better players such as Tim Sant who had scored 526 league runs
In its final season in the Berkshire League Tilehurst CC finished mid
table in 1st XI Division 3 and 2nd XI Division 1.
In that final season for the 1sts it was Mo Iqbal who led the way with
the ball with 48 wickets at 13.10; he was ably supported by John Vale
who took 27 wickets at 13.59 and Dil Pazir who took 20 at 16.80.
To the fore with the bat was Naz Hussain with 367 runs at 28.23 and
Nick Codd with 248 runs at 31.00. For the 2nds Andy Johnson was
the leading run scorer with 440 runs at 44.
With the failure to progress plans to improve the facilities at
Victoria Recreation Ground the club had to look at other options for
improvement and development. This was with the hope of retaining
players and also to have a venue suitable for the re-introduction of
The reasons for Theale CC and Tilehurst CC merging can be summed up
very simply: Theale CC had insufficient players and good facilities;
Tilehurst CC had a reasonable number of players but poor
facilities. There were obvious advantages in the two coming
During 1996 both Theale CC and Tilehurst CC were looking at various
options to overcome the problems they faced.
The Tilehurst CC Committee had agreed that the Club could never move
forward unless something was done about the facilities at the Victoria
Recreation Ground. In essence the Club had four options it
could pursue when it was considering its future in 1996. The
first was to do nothing which was not much of an option and the second
was to ask the Council to upgrade the facilities at the Victoria
Recreation Ground but this had been tried earlier in the 1990s without
A further option was to try and find an alternative venue in Tilehurst
that the Club could use as its home ground. This option was
explored with local estate agents, builders and Councillor Moon who
owned several plots of land around Tilehurst. However, this
option did not identify a suitable alternative venue.
This left the option of looking at merging with another local
club. Contact was made with Sulhamstead and Ufton CC and
Purley on Thames CC but neither of these clubs really considered the
option of merging to be a move forward for them.
However, when contact was made with Theale CC the Theale CC Secretary,
Brian Barefoot, did not rule out the option and agreed to raise the
matter with the Theale CC Chairman Derek Partridge.
At the same time as Tilehurst CC were looking at options to merge
Theale CC were also looking at merger options (see further details
below) so were unsurprisingly open to the idea of a merger with
A meeting was held at the Calcot Hotel (neutral territory between the
two Clubs/parishes) between Brian Barefoot, Derek Partridge, Alan Pyke
(Secretary of Tilehurst CC) and Tony Mundell (Chairman of Tilehurst
CC). The meeting went well with each recognising the
respective strengths and weaknesses each had and further meetings were
held. This led to an agreement in principle that the two
clubs should look to merge.
Theale CC Final Annual General Meeting
The final annual general meeting of Theale Cricket Club was held in the
Peter Gooch Room on 20th November 1996.
In his Secretary’s Report Brian Barefoot set out the problems that
faced the Theale Club at the time; these included:
• Neither of the 1st or 2nd XI winning a
game in 1996
• 8 games being cancelled due to
insufficient players in 1996
• In June 1996 the Theale Committee had
“seriously considered withdrawing the 2nd XI from the league”
Later in the meeting Brian Barefoot set out the reasons as to why the
Theale CC committee was proposing a merger with Tilehurst CC.
“I referred earlier to the Committee’s serious concern for the future
of the Club due to the lack of players. May I just remind you
again that in the 1995 season we failed to field a full side on 22%
occasions and in 1996 failed to field a full side on 60%
occasions. In addition to this the lack of availability of
players on Sundays over the past 4 or 5 years has gradually reduced the
number of fixtures on Sundays to such an extent that no fixtures were
arranged for last season and we no longer have any Colts teams.
The committee concluded that it couldn’t continue with the present
situation and some serious re-structuring of the Club would need to be
carried out before the 1997 season although the options were very
limited, given that we had agreed it would not be possible to plan for
the 1997 season on the basis of an influx of new players - as
experience over the last few years has not been encouraging.
Therefore it would be a matter of considering reducing the Club to 1
team playing on Saturdays. This was an option which would
have considerable limitations particularly for the long term future of
However, during the year we were approached by Englefield CC to
consider a merger as they were also experiencing some difficulties in
fielding a full team on occasions. The negotiations were not
protracted as both Theale and Englefield CC’s insisted on playing 1st
XI fixtures on their respective grounds.
At a later date we were approached by Tilehurst CC to consider a merger
as they were also experiencing some difficulties in fielding a full
team on occasions but more importantly they were becoming increasingly
concerned with the standard of the facilities at their home ground at
Victoria Rec. Tilehurst. The main problems were that the
facilities would not meet the increasing standards required by the
Berkshire League, particularly for playing in the Premier and 1st
Division, and the consequential effect of retaining players and
attracting new players, particularly Colts.
It was agreed to pursue the possibility of a merger with Tilehurst and
on behalf of Theale CC Derek Partridge and myself [Brian Barefoot] had
a number of meetings with representatives of Tilehurst CC.
These meetings resulted in us agreeing that there were considerable
advantages to be gained by the merger, including:
• The avoidance of a further decline of
• Providing Sunday cricket
• Encouraging Colt cricket
• A more successful club – hopefully
encouraging new players
• Full utilisation of the ground and
facilities at Theale
Derek and I reported back to the Committee and Tilehurst
representatives reported back to their Committee. Both
Committees agreed to the merger and therefore asked that it should be
formalised through the Club’s AGM’s.
Agreement has also been obtained from Theale Parish Council for the
merged clubs to continue to use the Recreation Ground and Pavilion at
Theale as its “home ground” and I would like to thank the Parish
Council for their support in this merger. I understand that
Tilehurst Parish Council has also been very supportive of the merger.
The Committee’s agreement to merge with another club was not taken
lightly as it was very aware of the fact that the Club had been in
existence for 167 years – but its main reasoning was to retain a major
cricket presence in Theale which otherwise would probably disappear.
This meeting is being asked to agree to the merger of Theale CC and
Tilehurst CC ...”
All the relevant votes required to agree to the merger were carried
Tilehurst CC Final Annual General Meeting
The final annual general meeting of Tilehurst CC was held at the
Royal’s Supporters Club on Wednesday 27th November 1996.
There were two proposals from the Tilehurst CC Committee put to the
meeting; they were:
That Tilehurst Cricket Club be wound up at the end of this meeting and
its assets be transferred to a New Club to be formed together with what
was formerly Theale Cricket Club along with its assets
That the officers elected at the 1996 AGM be elected en bloc to
represent the interests of the former Tilehurst Cricket Club in the
setting up a New Club together with representatives from the former
Theale Cricket Club
The above proposals were agreed unanimously. This is perhaps
just as well as Alan Pyke in his role of Club Secretary had already
written to Tilehurst Parish Council on 30th October 1996 stating:
“After much deliberation and discussion we have decided to
amalgamate with Theale Cricket Club and play our home matches at Theale.
This has been forced on us by a combination of events, the lack of
facilities at the Victoria Recreation Ground and the raising of the
minimum standards required to remain in the Berkshire Cricket League.
With the club having played in Tilehurst for well over one hundred
years, and over eighty per cent of our membership living in the parish,
this decision has not been taken lightly.
The cricket facilities at Theale are excellent, which gives us an
opportunity to develop Youth Cricket, an area that has sadly been
neglected in the past.”
The local press quickly picked up on what was happening with the
following article by David Wright appearing in the Evening Post on
Friday 29th November 1996 under the heading “Tilehurst merge with
Cricket teams Theale and Tilehurst have amalgamated.
Both the Hewlett-Packard Berkshire League clubs struggled last season,
though for different reasons.
Theale found it impossible at times to field full teams while near
neighbours Tilehurst had trouble in keeping their wicket at Victoria
Rec up to the standards required by the League.
Tilehurst chairman Tony Mundell said: “The council were unable to
provide a full time groundsman for Victoria Rec and when they did make
the wicket nice youngsters would come along and play on it and rough it
“Our wicket received some low marks from visiting clubs and the league
were showing some concern about the state of it.
“We looked round for a possible alternative site in the Tilehurst area
but could find nowhere suitable.
“So we then thought about amalgamating and sounded out two or three
clubs before deciding to go in with Theale.”
The club will now be known as Theale and Tilehurst CC with the
recreation ground in Englefield Road, Theale their home venue.
“The facilities there are very good,” said Mundell.
Theale finished bottom of the 1st XI Division 1 after a disastrous
season which saw them fail to win a game.
Tilehurst were mid-table in the 1st XI Division 3.
They expect to be playing in Division 2 next season with their
‘reserves’ in the 2nd XI Division 1 and the thirds in Division 4.
There will also be a Sunday team and the new club, who are yet to elect
their officers, are also keen to launch two colts teams, at under 15
and under 13 level. They plan a recruitment drive at local
He paid tribute to the assistance both clubs had received from the two
Theale and Tilehurst parish councils. Both have indicated
that they will assist with the maintenance of the ground.
Theale and Tilehurst CC Initial Annual General Meeting
With both clubs having agreed to a merger the first General Meeting of
Theale and Tilehurst CC was held in the Peter Gooch Room on 19th
February 1997. The meeting was chaired by Derek Partridge
(the ex-Chairman of Theale CC).
The Steering Group that had seen through the merger, Derek Partridge
and Brian Barefoot from Theale CC and Alan Pyke and Tony Mundell from
Tilehurst CC, had been tasked with nominating persons for the new
committee. As such the following were elected en bloc
unanimously as the first Theale and Tilehurst CC post holders:
Club/1st XI Captain||James Codd
Colts Manager||Alan Pyke
2nd XI Captain||Brian Cooper
3rd XI Captain||Dave Harvey
Sunday XI Captain||Edward Choules
Fixtures Secretary||David Cumming
Tony Mundell, Alan Newman, Dermot Healy and Vic Hayter were also voted
on to the general committee.
The meeting was informed that the new Club had had its teams placed in
the following divisions for the 1997 season: the 1sts in 1st XI
Division 2, the 2nds in 2nd XI Division 1 and the 3rds in 1st XI
Division 4. It was also announced that the 3rd XI would be
playing their homes games at Englefield CC.
For the 1997 season the senior membership was set at £5 and senior
match fees at £6.
History of Theale Cricket Club