A Brief History
(with thanks to Roger Davis)
The first games were played on Cove Green in 1935 and apart from results and score sheets from the Aldershot News records, it has been difficult to find information prior to the war.
Click here to read the minutes from inaugural general meeting in 1935.
Matches were suspended during World War 2 after which they were reinstated with home fixtures being played on Cove Green. This situation continued for some while, in fact until the late 1950’s when the club tried out several venues away from Cove Green including the ground attached to Southwood barracks (now the Southwood Village) and other Army grounds in Aldershot. Only one team was fielded at this time and most of the fixtures were ‘local’. Eventually a second team was formed and they took over at Cove Green. Around 1960, the First XI took up residence at the ACC ground in Queen’s Avenue, Aldershot and stayed there for some 13 years.
Early in this decade, the desire for a ground of its own encouraged Club officials, working with local councillors to address the problem. Eventually we had the opportunity to obtain a lease on a plot of ground which would provide us with a playing area and the opportunity to build our own club house. This land was running alongside Ambleside Close spreading back to where our boundary now is. However a certain Horace Cutler who owned the land wanted to build an estate, asked us to move to our present location and after some negotiation we accepted the new area. The site itself was marshland with thick reeds and with much enthusiasm, club members set about turning it into an area resembling a field on which a cricket table could be provided. The ground was raised and levelled with the excavated soil and rubble from the building of the M3 motorway and eventually seeded.
Having achieved the acquisition of the land, we now required a pavilion and again the membership took on the task of the design and building of the project. It turned out to be a major task, and the first project was to dig a trench from Ambleside Close to the foundations to take in the services. With lots of enthusiasm however, members completed the project in 1972. Many of the present members were involved from day one and there is a record on film of what was a turning point in the Clubs’ history.
The new clubhouse was eventually officially opened on September 29th, 1972 by Alec Bedser (Surrey & England) and the first game was played on the present ground on May 4th 1974 with a win against Fleet. At this time the Three Counties League and a third XI formed. We ended up as Champions in 1972 and runners-up in 1973 and 1977. Cove were again crowned as champions in 1979. The second XI entered the League in 1972 and finished as runners up in 1974, 1977 and 1978. The third XI joined the Farnham and District league in 1977 and were champions in 1978 and 1979. Cove were now a force to be reckoned with in N. E. Hants.
The club continued its success on the field ending up as first XI champions in 1981 and 1984 and the second XI, champions in 1986 and 1989. The third XI joined the Three Counties League in 1982 and were crowned as champions in their first season 1982, and again 1983 and 1989. There were also victories in the Aylward Cup in 1986, 1987 and 1988.
However fate was going to play a part in the further development of the Club. In October 1987 the hurricane which brought devastation to the south of England also wreacked havoc on the clubhouse. Early in the morning of 16th the flat roof was stripped off the building by the storm and ended up on the square. Once again the club members rose to the occasion and took the opportunity to re-design and extend the premises, with a new kitchen and dressing rooms and change of roof to a tiled pitched design. Months of hard work by the members during the winter ensured that the new clubhouse was ready for the opening of the 1988 season and was officially re-opened by the late John Bromley (Head of ITV Sport) on 6th May, 1988.
During the 90’s the club continued it’s success on the field the 1st XI ending up as champions in 1992 of the Three Counties League and to crown a magnificent year both the 2nd XI and 3rd XI emulated the achievement of the senior side and the club made a clean sweep of the titles without losing a game. The following year we became members of the Thames Valley League but table topping was to elude the 1st XI during this decade with runners-up medals being obtained in 1995. The 2nd XI were also runners up in 1995 but the 3rd XI were crowned champions in both 1993 (div 2) and 1997 (div 1). In 1996 a new Sunday League was formed to revitalise the interest in Sunday cricket which had been on a downward trend for several years. Although the club has not had a great deal of success, the concept introduced by our current treasurer, has kept Sunday cricket alive and has helped with the development of our young members.
In 1996 it was decided to redevelop the clubhouse once again to provide better facilities for the players, an umpires room as required by the League and improved catering facilities. A second floor for the changing rooms and umpires was envisaged and plans were drawn up and passed. A.fter a long process, part funding was obtained from the National Lottery, The Foundation for Sports and Art and amongst others, Rushmoor Council who have been good supporters of the club for many years. The project was begun in the autumn of 1998 this time with outside contractors and the refurbished building was completed ready for the 1999 season.
The final year of the twentieth century was another milestone in the history of Cove CC. On 27th March, Robin Smith (Hampshire and England) performed the opening ceremony of the rebuilt pavilion with many old members attending and reminiscing and giving unanimous praise for the finished project. Another project was underway to provide a long awaited second square on land adjoining the golf practice range transforming it from what looked like a cow field to a ground with a cricket square.
In more recent times the club has developed considerably. The 1st XI had a brief one year adventure into the Southern Premier League which was not too popular and the 2nd XI in the Hampshire League. The second ground eventually came to fruition for use in 1993 proving invaluable in providing the number of wickets we have to produce during a season. In August 2002 the club staged its first Benefit game—a seven-a-side tournament for our one time colt Shaun Udal raising money not only for Shaun but also the Club finances.
In June 2005 the Club repeated the seven-a-Side tournament for another Hampshire beneficary Alan (Spider) Mullallay. Throughout the past 10 years we have also played host to many Hampshire County games at various age groups and ex-players such as Chris Benham and Jimmy Adams have progressed to be established County players. Shaun Udal, who started his career as a colt at Cove has gone from Hampshire to captain of Middlesex and gained international honours with England. We now field five teams on Saturday which includes an Academy side, the introduction of which has proven to be another success in the history of the Club. The colts section goes from strength to strength providing coaching and games for both boys and girls from mini’s to under 15s which bodes well for the future and in 2010 we launched a ladies team which included several County players.
2010, our 75th anniversary was a milestone in the history of the club and in 2011 another milestone was reached when our 1st XI gained promotion from Division 1 of the Thames Valley League to the Home Counties Premier League. With the enthusiasm of the players and under the leadership of our ex-county player Chris Benham we hope to maintain our position at that higher level for the foreseeable future.
The forthcoming years will add to the history for future generations and I hope that this short article will help when it may hopefully be repeated for our centenary in 2035.