Leagues played in: ECB Premier League, South Lincs & Border League
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By Ann Boulton (taken from Lincolnshire Life magazine)
The first recorded match played by Sleaford was in 1803, billed as a ‘return cricket match’ between Bourne and Sleaford. The result is not known, but lunch was taken at the Bull Hotel in Bourne (now the Burghley Arms) at a cost of 25p per head. Sleaford’s ground is the fourth oldest first class venue in the country, as verified by the Association of Cricket Statisticians and evidenced by scorecards displayed in the pavilion, featuring WG Grace’s England XI playing local and regional games.
By the mid-1800s, Sleaford was staging matches involving an All England XI, North of England v South of England and a United All England team. These cricket matches were the only holidays for the working people of the town.
When the railway reached Sleaford in 1857, train times were arranged so that visitors could see the whole match and enjoy the entertainment before heading home. The most famous fixture at Sleaford was held in 1870 when a South of England XI played against 22 Sleaford and District players in a 3 day match, and WG Grace and his brother F Grace both scored centuries.
The First World War and the Depression took its toll and in 1935 Sleaford almost folded when no one would stand as captain, until a schoolboy named Alan Money was nominated by his headmaster. He dared not refuse! He remained involved in the club until his death in 2003; after his death, an enclosure at the front of the pavilion was constructed and dedicated to his achievements.
The ground was originally owned by Lord Bristol being contained in a farm tenancy to the Mountain family whose successors are very much part of the Club. The ground was purchased in 1960 from Lord Bristol, the new pavilion built in 1967, extension to lounge and changing rooms in 1987 and new score-box built in 1981. The Club played an important role in the formation of the South Lincs & Border League, being Premier Division champions three times and runners-up five times.
Sleaford is proud of its efforts in attracting feature games to the town, such as the World XI in 1989 and benefit games for many top flight players. A Sleaford player currently captains the County XI and the Club has provided the County President in 1991 and will again in 2000. County Cricket was first played at Sleaford in 1891 and has continued ever since. Today, the county’s first fixture of the season traditionally takes place there on Spring Bank Holiday.