Chesterfield Cricket Club has a history stretching back to the 18th Century, when it played matches at various locations in the town. Prior to its current Headquarters in Queens Park, the club played at the New Recreation Ground on Saltergate, which is now the home of Chesterfield FC. 'Spireites' fans may be surprised to discover that their team was formed by cricketers wanting to keep fit in the winter months.
In February 1894 the exclusive use of the new cricket ground at Queen's Park (built to commemorate Queen Victoria's jubilee) was granted to Chesterfield Cricket Club on their match days, and the first game was played there on the 5th May 1894.
Unfortunately, the inaugural match against a team from Clay Cross did not live up to its billing as the visitors were dismissed for just 35, with no batsman reaching double figures. Chesterfield's Harry Wilson took seven for 13 in the Clay Cross innings, and Chesterfield reached 92 for seven when they batted.
Chesterfield recorded their first home Derbyshire League victory on 16th June 1894 against Morton. It was noted that Mr W.E. Harvey, now immortalised in a statue outside the former NUM Offices on Saltergate, "received many an applause for cleverness in the field".
After the move to Queens Park the local press recorded that many more spectators were attending matches compared to the old Recreation Ground. However, there is some doubt as to whether this was due to the "altogether more attractive and pleasanter surroundings" or the abolition of the entrance fee! Whatever the reason, the Queens Park Ground was considered to be one of the finest in the country at that time.
Within two years Chesterfield Cricket Club won its first Derbyshire League title, and in 1899 the impressive pavilion was built. The building cost £499 18s 6d, and apart from a few refurbishments and extensions in later years its structure remains largely unchanged to this day.Between the Wars
From its early years at Queen's Park a number of famous cricketing families have played for the club. There were a number of generations of the Middletons and Cantrills in the early part of the last century, but undoubtedly the most famous family to grace Queens Park is the Popes.
First in the line was Fred Pope who came to Chesterfield in 1913 and played for the 1st XI in 1919. His sons Eric, Harold and Jack all had long connections with the club, but it was son George who went the furthest in cricketing circles, playing county and Test cricket.
George Pope made an impact in the Chesterfield sides at an early age, and one of his earliest memories was as a fifteen-year-old when he scored 77 and took 8 for 12 against Beighton, winning himself a new bat in the process.
He played for the club until the beginning of his full-time contract with Derbyshire, and later went on to play for England in Test matches including the Victory Tests and a tour of India with Lord Tennyson. George's nephew John was the third generation of the Pope family to play for Chesterfield in the 1960s.The Golden Years
The 'Golden Years' of Chesterfield CC were between 1947 and 1957 when the 1st XI won the Derbyshire League six times in ten seasons. Led by Geoff Attrill (Captain 1939 - 1959), the stalwarts of the side were George Lowe, Jack Enion, wicket-keeper Bob Naylor and Arthur Revill. The famous combination of Lowe and Revill in the slips with Naylor behind the stumps was particularly renowned for it's catching and little got past them.
With regular Championship success behind them the club left the Derbyshire League in 1958 to face the stronger challenge of the Bassetlaw League, and promptly moved up from Division 1C to 1A in two seasons.
One home-grown player who learnt his trade in these successful years and went on to achieve honours at a higher level was F C (Jim) Brailsford. He joined the club at 14 and after several successful years with the 1st XI took over the Chesterfield captaincy in 1960. Jim had a spell as a professional in the Bradford League and played first-class cricket for Derbyshire. Though primarily an opening batsman, one of his most famous achievements was taking the wicket of England Captain Ted Dexter with his first ball for Derbyshire.
Jim captained the club for a second spell from 1975 to 1982 and recruited many existing and former first-class players to his side. One of his best acquisitions was off-spinner Edwin Smith, who with 1209 first-class wickets is Derbyshire's sixth most prolific wicket taker ever.Recent Times
Over the 1970's and 1980's, Chesterfield were a strong force in the Bassetlaw League but never won the Championship title, despite coming very close. The closest was in a 'final ball of the season' thriller against Bridon CC.
To set the scene, Chesterfield were top of the league with their opponents needing 25 to win off the last two overs. Unfortunately, a disasterous 18-run penultimate over left Andy Bowers to bowl the final over with Bridon needing seven runs to win with one wicket left. The quick bowler restricted Bridon to three runs off the first five balls, leaving them requiring a boundary off the last ball in very bad light to win the game and the Championship.
Bowers decided a quick bouncer was the best policy in fading light, but Bridon number 11 Paddy Phelan had the luck of the Irish with him as an improvised pull shot looped over the wicket-keepers' head as he stood 30 yards back from the wicket. The ball rolled over the boundary to win the match and snatch the title at the last gasp.
Other notable personalities and players who represented the club during this time were Geoff Miller (Derbyshire, Essex and England), Mike Hendrick (Derbyshire and England), Clive Baxter, Alan Bonsall, David Edmunds, Tony Borrington (Derbyshire), Alan Morris (Derbyshire), John Walters (Derbyshire), David Webster (Derbyshire), Dave Brightmore, Kim Barnett (Derbyshire, Gloucestershire and England), Roger Finney (Derbyshire) and Dean Hopkinson.
Special mention should also go to Harry Cartwright (pictured left), who captained the side for six years in the 1980's and early 1990's. After an eight-year spell with Derbyshire Harry joined Chesterfield and his combination of powerful timing and textbook technique made him the most respected batsman in the Bassetlaw League for well over a decade.
In the mid-1990's, the club captaincy transferred to Tim Kirk. The club didn't threaten to break the Bassetlaw League duck, but since 1995 the 1st XI won three Harry Tomlin Trophy Finals, confirming their status as kings of the knock-out competition. Kirk, Brian Gladwin, Dean Hopkinson, Chris Marples and Simon King formed the backbone of the 1st XI.
Another high point of the late 1990's was the emergence of local talent Ian Blackwell. Prolific scoring, including a League record-breaking individual score of 213 not out against Bolsover confirmed his place as one of the best stroke-players in the Bassetlaw League for many years. After two years contracted to Derbyshire Ian has moved to Somerset to further his career, but still retains a keen interest in his home club. Ian has now gone on to represent England in the One day game.
In 1999, Chesterfield CC moved to the Derbyshire Premier League in its inaugural season, marking the clubs return to a Derbyshire league competition after 41 years. The accreditation of the Derbyshire Premier League to full ECB status in the year 2000 confirms its position as one of the best club cricket leagues in the country. In 2003 the club appointed ex-Derbyshire player Andy Brown to be Director of Coaching and Youth Development, to work alongside Club Captain ex-Derbyshire player Simon Lacey.
Players who have represented club and county
(dates shown are those with Derbyshire CCC 1st XI)
Those in bold type have also played Test Cricket for England
The club would welcome any contributions from former players or visitors to Queen's Park that could be included in updates to this website. Please contact us via e-mail.