Address: Lane Close, Horley, Banbury, OX15 6BH
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Unfortunately the beginnings of Horley Cricket Club are shrouded in uncertainty. It is known that cricket was played in the village during the inter-war years and three sites are referred to in the verbal record. The first is the meadow by the brook on the Wroxton Road and the second is the current cricket field. The third location is the field behind the vicarage.
Since this is effectively a v-shaped valley it is unlikely to have been the site of competitive matches but it does play a key role in the development of the modern club. In 1941 D Glyn Morgan was made vicar of Horley. Of welsh decent he had a passion for cricket and an ability to pass on his love of the game. It is for that reason that the boys of the village tended to play their games within sight of the vicarage and often gained valued coaching as a result. Rev Morgan was renown for his slow bowling and was Chairman from 1958 until his death in January 1965. Of course the war prevented the rebirth of the club but once the men returned matches were played on the current site.
It was of course a different scene to today with a paddock for training horses where the council houses of Lane Close now stand. The playing area was part of a larger field owned by Manor and the wickets were pitched at 90° to the current play, which caused unfavourable conditions in the evening matches. Among those returning to the village was G.F.Pratt who was the first Captain and Chairman until he left the village in 1958 and another inspirational character of the early years. The cricket “pavilion” and other equipment were transported from Hanwell.
The pavilion was placed under the tree by the gate where it acted as a tractor shed in the sixties – it was just big enough! The present garages were erected in 1967 when it fell into disrepair. The new pavilion in its current position owes much to the Oxfordshire Ironstone Company. As the main local employer it gave work to many from the village and the blocks from which the shell is made were produced at the works at the weekends. The stone which is now in the front of the bar was laid as part of the coronation celebrations in June 1953 with the formal opening taking place on Whit Monday 1954.
Unfortunately the first minute book which recorded activities before 1955 is not in the records. The main issues at the time were the laying on of water and electricity to the pavilion and the building of a wall to replace a grass bank in front of it. The water was eventually laid on during 1960.
From March 1957 there was unease about the future of the cricket ground. It was owned by the Manor and Mr Gibson was moving from the village. This was a long drawn out process which resulted in the club buying the field for £100. The boundary was determined by the existence of a small boggy hollow situated beside the current practice wicket.
The next burning issue was whether “outsiders” from Hornton should be allowed to join the club. It should be remembered that in those days the club was much more a part of the village life and all members lived, or had lived in the village. The Hornton club had recently disbanded and a number of key figures had moved away for “personal reasons” so it was agreed that new members could be admitted “as far as possible restricted to residents of Hornton”.