Gidea Park & Romford Cricket Club was formed in 1970 with the merger of Gidea Park Cricket Club and Romford Cricket Club, the two clubs who shared the facilities at the Gidea Park Sports Ground, Gallows Corner, the former Essex out ground where county cricket was played from 1950m to 1968. The Club is a members club open to all with playing, non playing and junior sections. The facilities are shared with Romford Hockey Club and a joint sports club committee, the Gallows Corner Sports & Social Club, is responsible for the ground.
Gidea Park Cricket Club was founded in 1923. The pavilion at Gallows Corner was built by Major Herbert Raphael in 1928 for use by the club. On the death of Major Raphael the ground and pavilion ownership passed to Gidea Park Estates and the Cricket Club continued to play there. At the outbreak of World War II the ground and pavilion were requisitioned by the Armed Forces, with part of the area used as a searchlight battery station. After the war Gidea Park CC returned to the ground and a year later the ground and pavilion were compulsory purchased by Romford Council to maintain the area as open space and prevent housing development.
The history of Romford Cricket Club is a good deal more complicated. 1863 is the year given when the club was officially founded but there is reference to a club existing prior to that, the 'Essex Times' has mention of a Romford side playing the City of London in 1848 and 'Essex Countryside' contained an article on 18th Century cricket with several references to Romford. The earliest recorded ground is at Great Mawneys around 1870, although by 1883 the club had moved to Victoria Road, using the 'Golden Lion' Public House after matches. The Golden Lion was to remain the club's headquarters for more than 70 years. In 1891 the club moved again, this time to a ground near Romford Railway Station - using an old railway carriage as a pavilion! The club grew in strength and by 1907 the 1st XI had been unbeaten for two years, including wins against the MCC and Essex Club and Ground. Then, in 1910 the ground was sold by Great Eastern Railways and homeless, the club disbanded. After the First World War the club was revived and, under several different names, played in Junction Road. In 1921 a new ground was acquired at Brooklands and, after turning the farmland into a cricket ground and laying a new square, this was home to the Romford Town Cricket and Tennis Club for the next decade. 1926 proved to be a milestone as this was the first time a match was played between Romford Cricket Club and Gidea Park Cricket Club, Romford winning, scoring 182 to Gidea Park's 68. Around this time Arthur Daer became the first Romford player to represent Essex. With Romford Football Club also basing themselves at Brooklands and having some success, the ground became more unsuitable for cricket. In 1930 the Tennis Club disbanded and in 1937 the Cricket Club found themselves homeless again, spending the next two years as a wandering side. In 1939 the club found a new home at Rise Park but facilities were not ideal, each match requiring a marquee to be erected. In 1940 the Secretary reported that the season had been marred by hold ups due to air raids and two large bomb craters on the outfield! Finally, after temporary use of the South Essex Waterworks ground, the club applied to the Council to use the Gidea Park Sports Ground.
So, from 1948 Gidea Park CC and Romford CC shared the ground and changing facilities at the Gallows Corner ground, along with Romford Hockey Club who had moved from Raphaels Park. After matches the three clubs sought liquid refreshment in 'The Ship' Public House in Gidea Park. In 1958, when the ground licence was about to expire, the two cricket clubs formed the Gallows Corner Sports and Social Club, with the primary purpose of installing bar facilities within the pavilion. The site of the bar was agreed at the Romford end of the pavilion and Councillor WA White formally opened the clubroom on 26th April 1958.
Ken Farnes, the former England fast bowler, was born in 1911 and played club cricket for Gidea Park CC. In 1930 in a match against Essex Club and Ground, his fast bowling so impressed P Perrin, the former Essex player and member of the Test Selection Committee playing for the Club and Ground side that a few weeks later he made his debut for Essex. In 1934 he was selected to play for England against Australia at Trent Bridge and took 5 wickets in each innings, including the prized wicket of Don Bradman. He went on to play 15 Tests for England, including tours to Australia, West Indies and South Africa, before war broke out in 1939, the year he was named Wisden Cricketer of the Year. He was regarded by many as the fastest bowler in the world on his day, claiming 60 Test wickets at 28.65 and 690 First Class wickets at 21.45. An RAF pilot during the war, Farnes was tragically killed in a plane crash in 1941 aged 30. Following public donations, a memorial was erected at the Gallows Corner ground in the form of a scoreboard with a plaque attached describing his career. Unfortunately, vandals burnt down the scoreboard in 1973 but the plaque can still be seen in the Long Room outside the present scoreboard in the Gallows Corner pavilion. For more information on Ken Farnes career click here.
The ground at Gallows Corner has staged 34 First Class matches, with Essex playing here between 1950 and 1968. The first wicket taken in the first match against Hampshire in May 1950 was appropriately taken by Essex paceman Ken Preston who was a product of Romford CC, for whom he had played in 1947 and 1948. For the second game that first season, against Worcestershire, a crowd of 7,000 attended on the Saturday and over 9,000 on the Bank Holiday Monday. The annual Festival usually included two County Championship matches, although in 1963 a match was staged between Essex and a Commonwealth XI that included the famous West Indian trio of Walcott, Worrell and Weekes - which Essex bowled out for 84!
With the purchase of the Chelmsford headquarters, Essex Festival weeks around the county disappeared one by one. The final County Chanpionship match at Gallows Corner was played against Surrey in May 1968. Essex bowler Robin Hobbs took the last first class wicket at the ground, dismissing Surrey's Mickey Stewart.
Overall, Essex's record at the ground was played 34, won 14, drew 12 and lost 8. Doug Insole scored the highest First Class score at the ground of 180 while Trevor Bailey returned the best bowling figures of 8 for 49.
More information on the history of First Class cricket at the ground can be found here.
Following the merger in 1970 the new club of Gidea Park & Romford was a founder member of the Essex League in 1972, with both the 1st and 2nd XI's winning their sections in 1972 and 1973. The Club has maintained a consistently high playing standard at all levels since then. The 1st XI won the championship again in 1977 and 1983 and were runners up in 1978. Despite coming close on several occasions the Club had to wait until 2002, after the introduction of the ECB accredited Premier League in 1999, before claiming the championship again and were then runners up the following season.
The 2nd XI and 3rd XI have also won their sections on four and six occasions respectively, with the 2nd XI runners up a further five times and the 3rd XI on five other occasions, a record almost unrivalled in Essex League cricket.
For a full list of Club Honours click here.
The Club has five Saturday XI's playing in the Shepherd Neame Essex League. The 1st XI participates in all the leading cup competitions in the area (National Club Championship, club Cricket Conference Cup, the Duke's Essex League Cup, and the Dukes Essex Twenty Twenty Cup) and there are two Sunday XI's playing recreational cricket, with the 2nd XI used as a means of introducing younger colts into adult cricket. From time to time the club also participate in the Essex League's Jeff Rodriques Trophy for Over 40/Under 16 players, having won the inaugural final of the competition in 2002.
At junior level, the club has been one of the most prominent clubs in the county for twenty five years and produces a stream of young cricketers who go on to play senior club cricket, many progressing into the 1st XI. Coaching starts from age eight and teams are organised at Under 9, 11, 13, 15 and 16. During recent years the club has been proud to have produced three First Class Cricketers, Stephen Peters, Barry Hyam and Andrew Hibbert, which maintains the tradition of over 80 years of members playing for the County.
Gallows Corner has two squares of acknowledged good quality and a large, well appointed pavilion. The club has also staged Essex 2nd XI representative matches, hosted the Club Cricket Conference and the Essex League Cup final, and is the venue for both Essex schools fixtures and area youth finals. In 2006 the Club was proud to host international matches between the England and Pakistan Deaf Cricket Associations.
We are proud of our heritage at Gidea Park & Romford CC and look forward to giving players, opposition and spectators a warm welcome at Gallows Corner.