“It is a fine old ground in delightful surroundings and is blessed with excellent natural turf such as is rarely to be found on cricket grounds.”
The Times – 13th August 1926
A chronological history of Town Malling Cricket Club and The Old County Ground, written by Mark Worrall, former TMCC legend and Chairman for many years.
On 24th July the first record of cricket in Kent, appeared in an advert in ‘The Postman’ for “a match of cricket” between 11 gentlemen of West Kent and 11 of Chatham – for a purse of £11.11s a man – at Malling.
Thomas Selby & Silas Norton (local solicitors) founded ‘TOWN MALLING CRICKET CLUB’ (TMCC) with the cricket meadow in West Malling being its base (the ground is now known as the ‘Old County Ground’). TMCC soon became established as one of the strongest clubs in Kent and ‘Thomas Selby’ became a dominant force in cricket in Kent.
The England Cricketer, Fuller Pilch, was enticed by Selby to move to Kent. He was paid £100 per annum as “Groundsman” at the ground, often employing ‘Night watchmen ’to guard the pitch before “big” matches, where large sums would be wagered on the result. Pilch played for Town Malling CC before he played for a Kent County side.
Selby inaugurates a new Kent County Cricket Club, with the West Malling ground as its headquarters.
Charles Dickens published “Pickwick Papers”. It is likely that the cricket match between ‘All Muggleton and Dingley Dell’ was inspired by West Malling matches. An illustration of the match appeared on the back of the old English Ten Pound note and bears a great resemblance to views of the West Malling Parish Church from the ground.
West Malling was the centre of Kent Cricket. Kent played, the Town Malling Club itself, England, Sussex and Nottinghamshire at the ground. Crowds of over 6,000 spectators would gather for these matches, in an outer circle surrounding only about half the current ground, in the pavilion corner. The circle would contain carriages of the nobility and gentry, hop wagons covered with awnings made of hop cloths, marquees and booths. Order was kept by the cracking whip of a “ringmaster”. The mower was a scythe, and players changed in hop oast houses.
The Kent County Cricket Club was re-launched with Canterbury as the headquarters. The first recorded use of a boundary line and markers, was at West Malling and was also in this year.
The first cricket team to tour England was an Australian Aboriginal side and they used West Malling as their practice ground.
The last first class cricket match to be played on this ground was held between Kent and Sussex.
Town Malling Football Club having formed in 1885, played their first game on this ground. They became founder members of the Maidstone and District League, and won their first match 5-1.
As part of the Australian Bi-Centenary celebrations, an Aboriginal cricket team toured England and again used the West Malling ground as their training base.
Town Malling CC opened a new Pavilion for the use of cricketers and footballers and it was opened by Richard Ellison of Kent CCC and England.
TMCC joined the Medway Area Sunday League and played and won its very first non-first class league game in its history, by beating beat Sherwood CC. TMCC finished 3rd in the league.
TMCC along with Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council and the local Kent Cricket Board Development Officer are planning activities to celebrate 300 years of cricket in Kent by organising the ‘Town Malling Cricket Festival’ from 18th to 29th July.
TMCC Sunday 1st XI joined the Kent Village Cricket League, Division 7 and were crowned Champions in the very first season. The club continued to win or be promoted over the next 7 years ending with a mid table finish in Division One in 2014. 2015 saw the creation of a TMCC 2nd XI in Division 7 as well. For 2020, TMCC are in Division 3 West of KVCL.
TMCC Juniors Section set up by Martyn Senior and Chris Gosney. Still going strong in 2019 with age groups from All Stars to U15’s comprising of both boys and girls, along with good school links and partners.
TMCC secured a 99 year lease on The Old County Ground with West Malling Parish Council. Staving off the threat of future housing development and guaranteeing cricket is played on this famous ground for many generations to come.
First ever TMCC Ladies Softball Festival and hard ball match took place at the Old County Ground. TMCC were awarded Sport England’s ClubMark accreditation.
Anna Tunnicliff, TMCC’s Lead Coach for Women and Girls Cricket was named Coach of the Year for Kent and also as ECB National Coach of the year.
TMCC is dedicated to the development of cricket in Kent at all levels and continues to work closely with Kent Community Cricket, Tonbridge & Malling BC Cricket Partnership, other local clubs, local schools and plays host to many cricket matches and festivals.