Cricket Club, early history, Chapter 3

The Great War (1914-1918) and Wickford Cricket Club

The first twenty seven years saw the Club beginning to prosper with membership progressively increasing so that in 1913 there were around ninety-three members (including juniors) and some eighty-nine in 1914, albeit with seventeen subscriptions outstanding!  Fees ranged from 5s 0d (2s 6p for juniors) to one guinea.

The Great War however saw dramatic changes, though not immediately.  Although war was declared on the 4th August 1914, the fixture list of some sixteen matches was seen through to the end of August and by September 1914 fifteen of the Club’s members had responded to their country’s call.   The end of the 1914 financial year even saw a healthy surplus of £1 11s 5d. Unfortunately the war was not ‘over by Christmas’ and the 1915 season saw membership down to fifty with just five club matches. In the subsequent seasons of 1916, 1917 and 1918 there were no club matches as such.

Subscribing membership continued to fall: nine in 1916, six in 1917 and by 1918 it had dwindled to just one, viz E Coote Esq.  However, Messrs. H.Luker & Co. (a Southend Brewery) had continued with their regular donation (and had done so since at least 1898 and continued to do so through to 1926).

The ground was not completely out of use since the facilities were made available for use by the various regiments that were billeted in the area and in the first full summer of the war the Club sometimes had matches against them. One such match being on June 24th, 1915, a record crowd witnessed the game, an attendance unsurpassed to the present day. Reports are of other matches against the South Midland Battalion and the R.A.M.C

In total some forty-five members joined H. M. Forces to serve in the war. At the close of the war fifteen members had held commissions, ten of them receiving promotions after joining the ranks.  The Club however suffered heavy losses with nine members being killed and nine wounded (a staggering 40% casualty rate).  Another member was to die shortly after hostilities ended. Unfortunately the Members’ Roll of Honour that was placed in the (Old) Pavilion to recognise their service has long since disappeared but it is believed that it would have included the following who made the supreme sacrifice:-

George Burnett, October 1914, age 25 (see A Village Policeman by Geoff Whiter)

Cecil George Bertram Loos, March 1915, age 30

Paul James Hilleard, April 1915, age 21

Horace Grant Hickson, August 1915, age 21

Sydney John Leete, July 1917, age 24

Herbert Thomas Mott, August 1917, age 23

Albert William Heard, September 1917, age 21

Stanley Willis Mott, November 1917, age 24

William Marshall, October 1918, age 30

“No ear was deaf to the trumpet’s call,

T’was not for prize nor fame,

Unselfishly they gave their aid,

  And nobly played the game.”

(unknown)

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