Founded in 1928, the Avorians Cricket Club celebrated its 75th
Anniversary in 2003 but the question most frequently posed by both
club members and visitors alike is “Who are the Avorians
The club’s history can be traced back to shortly after the
end of the First World War when following de-mob from the armed
forces young men returned back to their villages. Cobham at this
time had only one village cricket team so there was a need for
This resulted in the formation of Cobham Juniors who started
playing at Cobham Meadows. One of the club’s founder members
was Berthil Gregory who recognized the need to find alternative
playing facilities. He and Charlie Cooper approached a local
landowner Mr Edward James Avory about clearing and using his land
opposite the Fairmile Hotel as a new cricket ground. Mr Avory, the
brother of the late Mr Justice Avory, himself a former keen
sportsman (reaching the Quarter-Final of the Wimbledon Tennis
Championships in 1891) listened to their request.
He agreed they could use the land and only charged a peppercorn
rent. Berthil and Charlie organized the clearance of the land with
the help of the club’s enthusiastic members. The square was
laid by Luffs and in 1928 the club was named Avorians Sports Club
after its benefactor Mr. Avory.
The first ball was bowled on the ground in 1930. Ironically,
this is the ground now occupied by Cobham Cricket Club following
their recent amalgamation with Old Surbitonians!
Mr. Avory gave regular support to the club and was frequently
seen at the ground as an ardent spectator and when the club
expanded to run a tennis section, it was his foresight, interest
and financial support that assisted to build two courts.
On Tuesday 30th May 1944 Mr. Avory aged 91 years met
an unfortunate death when he fell in a bonfire at his Fairlawn
estate at Cobham. Having been pre-deceased by his wife, Jane, and
daughter, Ethel, this led to his beneficiaries
offering the ground to the club at a purchase price of eleven
thousand pounds. This was unfortunately way beyond the means of the
club’s finances, something which was clearly regrettable. As
a result of the failure to purchase, it was necessary to look at
the club’s future and the then President Mr L.C. Bullock
approached Burhill Estates. At this time the club’s Secretary
Freddie Edmonds’ wife was working for that company and it was
known that land at Convent Lane might be available!
Following long negotiations, a contract for lease
of this land was finally signed and once again enthusiastic members
along with contractors Frank Harris began clearing the site for
cricket. Members erected a pavilion and the ground was finally made
playable with the first ball being bowled in 1948. The club still
occupies the land to this day and what a beautiful ground it
In 1949, the Avorians went on their first cricket tour to Devon
playing the strongest teams in that county. This tour was to
continue for 3 years and was reintroduced in 1962 and continued
until the late 1960s.
Berthil Gregory became the Club’s president and continued
to play cricket in his own inimitable way. The late, great Wally
Hammond wrote in his book of our beloved game that
“Greg”, as he was affectionately known was, “The
hardest hitter of a cricket ball in cricket”. High praise
indeed of a club amateur who was a legend amongst his contempories.
Greg always led from the front and captained the club for a number
of years until his untimely death.
At this time Trevor Smith became the President and the club
continued to thrive under his guidance and became one of the
strongest in the South East of England with a formidable fixture
The club in its 75 years has boasted some really top class
cricketers and probably top of the list has to be one R.G.D.
Willis. Bob played for the club for two seasons in the late 1960s
and displayed what a great fast bowler he was to become. Two years
after leaving the club to become a professional he was opening the
bowling for England against Australia!
As mentioned in the Foreword, Bob introduced another soon-to-be
international skipper to the playing ranks in Geoff Howarth, who
played for the club for a couple of seasons.
Just as quick as Bob Willis was the incomparable Mick Mitchell
who opened the bowling for the Avorians in the 1970s. He was the
opening bowler at Middlesex when John Price was their number two
and we all know that Pricey went on to represent his country.
Probably the most successful bowling partnership in the clubs
history was in operation during this time. The combined guile and
spin of Gathercole and Holmes. Brian and Harry were legendary as
the left arm “Offer” and the “Leggie” and
they regularly bowled 20 overs apiece dismissing the opposition.
Brian Gathercole regularly took over 100 wickets a season and was
almost exclusively awarded the annual Ronson Shaver award for most
wickets. I’m sure he had nearly as many electric shavers as
To be a successful spinner you have to have the services of a
good wicket keeper and Brian and Harry had a great one in Tony
“Chums” Longman. He provided them both with wickets
from balls that perhaps did not deserve them, most notably
Gathers’ arm ball down the leg side! Tony was later to become
President for 6 years and what a great ambassador he has been for
The advent of league cricket saw the Avorians enter the Surrey
Cricketers League at inception. A certain amount of success
followed, with the Club finally landing the coveted SCL title in
1980. This was in no small part due to the bowling of Dave
McDonald, bowler of one of the most consistent leg stump Yorkers in
On 30th May 1983 Avorians played host to the touring New Zealand
Cricket Team on the opening game of their tour. The New Zealanders
fielded a full strength Test XI against the hosts including Lance
Cairns, Martin and Jeff Crowe, Ewan Gray, Jeremy Coney, Glenn
Turner, Ewan Chatfield, Warren Jones, Bruce Edgar and John
Bracewell. The side was led by ex-Avorian Geoff Howarth.
Hundreds of interested spectators witnessed a very close game with
the tourists just winning the day.
Throughout this period, a certain Denis Jacobs was making a
significant contribution to the Club’s history. Denis
occupied all positions in the club as player, Chairman for 16 years,
handyman and loyal supporter. Without Denis’ unselfish
contributions over more than 2 decades the club would not be in the
strong position it is today.
Mention must also be made of David and Mary Cawsey. “Dear
boy” was club Secretary from 1977 until his death in 1994 and
Mary occupied the position of Treasurer from 1964 until 1996, some
32 years. Modern cricketers please note, this type of loyalty is
the cornerstone of all good cricket clubs!
During the 1980s the club boasted a very strong Colts Section,
which was due entirely to the efforts of David Cawsey and Jack
Bailey. During this era the club enjoyed great success in colts
competitions and it was the breeding ground for players like
Matthew Jacobs, Mark, Tim and Charlie Hodgson, Michael and Hugh
Bailey, Mark Lane, Graham Crawford and Daniel Lane to name but a
few. The club owes a debt of gratitude to David, Jack and their
helpers who ran this colts section.
With the widespread introduction of ‘overseas’
players during the mid-Eighties, Graeme Labrooy also graced the
sward at Convent Lane and had a very successful campaign with the
club before going on to represent Sri Lanka in 9 tests.
In 1987, the Surrey Cricketers League amalgamated to form the
Second Division of the Surrey Championship and the Club competed in
this Division for 11 seasons, generally finishing in the top half
of the table. The title was eventually secured in 1997 under the
astute captaincy of Andy Bell.
This however was perhaps not a good time to get promoted to
Division 1 as the Surrey Championship went professional the next
year. The players found themselves up against the likes of Jimmy
Adams (Sunbury), Reon King (Old Emanuel) and Neil Johnson
(Addiscombe) and unfortunately they were relegated. The formation
of the Premier League the following year meant that the club
effectively dropped two divisions.
Against this backdrop, 1998 saw perhaps the lowest point in the
history of the Avorians when, faced with apparent indifference from
the majority of the dwindling playing membership, the Committee
were forced to seek out an amalgamation with Walton-on-Thames CC.
This proved to be a catalyst for change, however, as at a Emergency
General Meeting the membership voted unanimously to reject the
proposed merger, and under the leadership of the current Chairman,
Mark Barrow, and President, Darrell Hinds, and with the generous
support of Darrell’s son Jeremy, the club has gone from
strength to strength, in 2000 gaining promotion back to Division 1
as Runners Up, where they remain.
The Avorians are extremely proud to simultaneously hold three
Surrey Championship batting records. In 1996 Matthew Jacobs set the
Division Two record in scoring 187 not out in the game against
Dorking, and in 2001, Matt Daykin, an Australian with whom the club
has had a 4 year relationship, set a new Championship record when
he hammered the Bank of England attack for 208 not out in just 50
overs. In 2004 we set a new record for the highest score in the
Premier Division with 419-5 in 60.0 overs against Guildford.
Matt Daykin continued to play for the club having qualified by
residency and in 2002 the club were lucky enough to to have as
their overseas player Brad Haddin. Brad is an Australian
international and is currently pushing Adam Gilchrist hard for the
Wicketkeeper/Batsman slot in the Australian One Day International
side. Matt unfortunately left the club at the end of 2003.
In 2003 the club completed the signing of Mark Higgs as their
overseas player. Mark is a left hand bat/left arm spinner who is a
regular in the South Australia state side and made the original
30-man squad for the World Cup. He returned to Australia at the end
Paul Prichard, ex-Essex and England, also played for the club in
2002 but due to Minor Counties and work commitments his appearances
were limited. He certainly made up for it in 2003/4!
Other tireless workers on behalf of the club included Tony
Longman, Bill Murdoch, John Loose, Watkin Evans, George Young and
Steve Knight and more recently John Lane. Indeed the Lane family
has been represented at the Avorians through 4 generations with
Ernie, Ernie Jnr, Harold, Cliff, Malcolm, John and Daniel all
Peter Smith is also one of its better known ambassadors having
played for the club as boy and man for 40 years and only decided
age had finally taken its toll in 2000 when he ended his playing
days. Peter epitomised the Avorians spirit, playing the game
“the way it should be played” and spending time
socialising with the opposition and the umpires. The club maintains
this ethos to this day and it remains a friendly place to play
cricket for members and opponents alike.
Ian Findlay who gained representative honours as a Surrey opener
also played at the club, as did Chelsea footballer Peter Osgood.
In their 75th Anniversary year, 2003, the 1st XI won the 1st
Division of the Surrey Championship so gaining promotion to the
Premier Division. This was in no small part due to the batting and
bowling performances of Matt Daykin and Mark Higgs who both topped
the league averages.
Unfortunately the club lost the services of Matt before the
start of the season 2004. Playing in the elite Premier Division
however proved a bridge too far and despite the best efforts of
Paul Prichard, Aaron O'Brien (2004 International, NSW, S
Australia), Cliff Hill and his merry men, the club finished second
to bottom in the 2004 season and were relegated back to Division
2005 was a year of great hopes but sadly our cavalier (and
relaxed) attitude got the better of us after the half way point. We
rose magnificently up the table during the first few games and at
one point were challenging for second position, however in usual
style, once we had achieved a safe position, availability took its
toll and we sank slowly back down the First Division finishing one
place above relegation spot. Matt Daykin had returned (again) for
the season but even his game couldn't slow our gentle slide back to
the lower ranks. The committee was stronger and more committed than
ever and the bank balance was healthy but the season ended on a
low. Matt returned to Australia at the end of the season to finally
heed his parents constant desire for him to finally attend
university. The closed season saw a concerted effort from Steve
Lewis, Peter Ruddy and Darrell Hinds and following their efforts, a
strong battlechest was put together to help us fight the 2006
What a great season 2006 turned out to be as predicted! The
First XI played some remarkable attacking cricket throughout the
season with Mark Higgs nearly completing a thousand runs for his
return season. However the whole success of the season boiled down
to the last game with Sunbury already crowned champions of Division
1, Cobham Avorians had to win the last game at Sunbury to gain
promotion ahead of Walton on Thames. Andy Umpleby produced a
devastating opening spell and eventually took seven wickets
dismissing Sunbury for less than 100.Then openers Higgs and Auri
Basu knocked off the runs in 10 overs without loss confirming the
clubs rise back to the Premier Division for 2007. However the
promotion meant that the club had to find forty thousand pounds to
have the pavilion extended to enlarge the changing facilities to
meet ECB specifications. The second eleven also enjoyed unmitigated
success by becoming champions of Division 3 of the second X1 league
by a staggering 37 points. So both sides were promoted and mention
must be made of the work of the cricket chairman Andy Bell who
worked to strengthen both sides during the close season. During the
close season on the run up to 2007 the clubhose work was undertaken
and grateful thanks must go to one of the clubs sponsors Andrew
Beaumont whose company Runnymede Homes undertook the work. The
changing rooms are now completed and ready for use. With the
backbone of the club now underpinned by a very active Colts Academy
run by Darren Talbot and Peter Worth along with a very committed
group of members and parents the clubs future looks extremely
bright. Mark Higgs returns for 2007 as the overseas player and
along with stalwarts Scott Jarvis, Andy Umpleby, Steve Harpley, Graham
Crawford and captain Jerry Hinds the 2007 season is eagerly
John Lane - March 2007
2007 did indeed turn out to be one of the club's best ever seasons. In fact for the next three seasons the A's competed very successfully in the Surrey Championship Premier Division, finishing 6th in 2007, 5th in 2008 and a club highest ever 4th in 2009.
Unfortunately this success on the pitch came at a high price. In 2010, with the First XI having been relegated from the Premier Division, the Committee effectively resigned en masse, leaving new President, Peter Smith, returning Chairman Mark Barrow and an enthusiastic new Committee to try to fill in the hole that had been left in the club's finances.
A new chapter of "back to basics" has started well, including what it is hoped will be a long and successful association with junior football club Oxshott Royals FC, and hopes are high that the future of the club will soon once again be secure.
As the club fought hard to steady the ship off the pitch, the First XI expectedly endured successive relegations in 2011 and 2012. Having operated profitably for 2 and a half years, and with the club's debts firmly under control, however, the Management Committee have now embarked on a significant programme of works to upgrade the facilities at the club, including the building of a petanque pitch (a "terrain" apparently)! Although the relationship with our friends at Oxshott Royals has come to an end after 3 seasons, our relationship with the tennis company, ESG, continues to flourish.
2013 sees the arrival from York of Sanjaya Rodrigo, a former Sri Lanka Under 19 International with 57 First Class games, and 2 First Class 100's under his belt. Sanjaya is an ECB Level 2 qualified coach, who aims to progress to L3 over the next couple of years. Sanjaya will take a lead coaching role in the development of both the adults and the Academy. We are also fortunate to have the services of Dan Stevenson. Australian by birth, Dan is a current Austrian international who is looking to play a full season of League cricket.