IT was the year of the siege of Khartoum, the first Oxford English Dictionary was published and building work began on the Statue of Liberty – but 1884 will also be remembered for the creation of Alvanley Cricket Club.
The familiar sound of leather on willow has now been heard in the rural village for 125 years and cricket is still making the headlines today.
The Chester Chronicle first reported on the club’s success in June, 1885, when the first team defeated Norley Hall by an innings. And one-and-a-quarter centuries later the Frodsham Road club, located on the Ardern Estate, is celebrating further successes.
The first team maintained its status as one of the top five teams in Meller Braggins League Division One while the second team claimed a famous victory on the final day of the season to win promotion.
First team skipper Andy Bennion believes Alvanley is a very special club that deserves its place in the history books, although it is not the oldest club attached to the Cheshire County League – that title being held by Oulton Park which was formed in 1820.
Bennion said: “All clubs are about the people. Over the years there has been a hardcore of members that have maintained and improved the club and that remains today.
“At the moment we have an unbelievable amount of young talented players coming through to the senior sides. They bring with them a tremendous amount of fun which is great for the changing room banter.
“The club is continually growing and each year improvements are made to the ground and the pavilion. We have some very proactive members and the young lads like to get involved too.
“We now have a two-year plan to get promoted back into the county league. It will be a tough season though as Northwich, Stockport, Burnage and Oakmere will be strong but we’ll give it a go.”
Bennion also paid tribute to Alvanley stalwart Fred Noden, who sadly passed away in 2006. Noden was a player, groundsman and later the club president but remarkably held the post of club secretary for 51 years.
Formed in the same year at Chester City FC, Alvanley was originally located behind the village church until it moved to its current home.
One surviving feature of the old ground is the pitch-roller, nicknamed “the cheese roller” as it was made from a cheese press and was once apparently pulled by a horse wearing leather shoes so it did not damage the pitch. The roller is still on view today.
During the early 1900s, prestige games were fought against Tarporley and Barrow and away fixtures were reached on board the horse-drawn team bus called ‘The Bassinet Wagonette’.
After the two world wars, further developments continued at the ground including the erection of Alvanley’s first pavilion and in 1961 they doubled their ownership of land.
On the pitch, Alvanley were growing in stature and during this period famous Australian Test batsman Ces Pepper turned out for the club.
Alvanley celebrated their centenary year in 1984 and the second team continued the party atmosphere by romping to the league title.
Five years later the first team finally got their hands on the league championship trophy and in 1993 they joined the Cheshire County League.
In 2000, Alvanley reached their highest point of success finishing fifth in Division One. Two successive relegations however have seen the club currently playing in the Meller Braggins League, alongside Barrow and Malpas.
Cheshire cricket expert Mike Talbot Butler said that Alvanley had won many admirers since joining the county league.
“Alvanley have created a lot of impression because of their friendliness, the quality of the ground and the people involved at the club,” he said.