Gloucestershire County Cricket Club is where WG Grace made his name. He is perhaps the most famous cricketer in the history of the game and the image of him sitting on a bench holding his bat will be familiar to anyone who has been in a pub in the West Country. The club itself has enjoyed a more variable level of success but has become the team to beat in one day cricket of recent years.
Early History of the Club
The original documents documenting the early history of the club have been lost. The first records of the club itself are dated 1871, but an organisation that is thought to have been the forerunner for the club, is known to have been in existence in 1863. Cricket had been played in Gloucestershire since the early eighteenth century, although this was mostly confined to matches between parishes.
Dr HM Grace, father of WG Grace, is known to have been heavily involved in setting up the club. The first match on record was played against Surrey County Cricket Club on the Downs in Stoke Bishop, Bristol on in June 1870. Gloucestershire went on to win the Champion County title three times that decade. WG Grace captained the team for the first two decades of its history. He is one of England's great all-rounders, scoring 22,808 runs and taking 1339 wickets. Two of the early stars were batsmen Gilbert Jessop and Charlie Townsend, with the latter also being a fairly dangerous bowler.
Cricket During the Wars
After winning the then unofficial Champion County title, Gloucestershire went through a fairly uninspiring period. This is not to say they did not have moments of greatness. Wally Hammond, who holds most of the club's batting records, steered the team to second place in the County Championship in 1930 and 1931. The team's other weapon came in the form of the spin partnership of Charlie Parker and Tom Goddard.
Having been relegated after a poor 2005 season, Gloucestershire had a rather poor start to the season. By the end of the season they finished top of Division Two in the Pro40 one-day competition, but were still some way of being promoted back to Division One.
Another year for Gloucestershire did not start well with them having to wait five games for a victory. Things picked up mid-season and looked promising for the team. Sadly this form could not be sustained and their greatest achievement was to finish second in the Twenty20 Cup. They finished seventh overall in the Second Division.
Out of season the club is still very active. Training for the following season is already under way for April 2008. Tickets are on sale for the 2008 Natwest Series International and are selling well. The club also runs specialist courses for those under sixteen, with the batting courses being particularly popular. Intensive courses take place in the school holidays.
- Address: Gloucestershire County Cricket Club, The County Ground, Nevil Road, Bristol, BS7 9EJ
Gloucestershire play at three different grounds throughout the season:
- The County Ground
The County Ground is located in North Bristol, by Ashley Hill on Nevil Road. This is the club's primary ground and headquarters where all home league matches are played. It is the second largest club field in the country and has a capacity of over 15,000.
- Cheltenham College
Cheltenham Cricket Festival is a historic event set in one the country's most picturesque grounds. In the heart of the Cotswolds, this is the highlight of the cricket season in the area.
- Kings School, Gloucester
The Gloucester Festival is another jewel of the Gloucestershire cricket scene. Matches are played on the school's fine playing field, and the festival often gives rise to exciting and high-scoring matches. The school also runs an exchange programme with eminent cricketing schools in Australia.
- The County Ground
The ground in Bristol is not well served by many public transport routes. There is a small station, Montpelier, 1.6km from the ground, which has several services per hour from Bristol Temple Meads. By car, the ground is a short drive from the M32 which runs into Bristol from the M4 and M5. Leave the M32 on the B4058 signposted Stapleton Road, drive for 300 yards to the roundabout and take the third exit signposted B4469/Muller Road. After a mile turn left and continue on Ralph road. After a few hundred yards take the left turn onto Ashley Down Road and continue for 50 yards to Kennington Avenue on the right. After 500 yards take the left onto Nevil Road. The road turns into Lancashire road and the entrance to the County Ground is on the left.
Ticket prices vary greatly and pricing is not straight forward. International matches tend to be more expensive. Most tickets are allocated to members. There are a limited number of tickets available on the day that can go for as little as £14. County Championship tickets can not be purchased in advance. All other matches are priced around £10 in advance and £15 at the gate. All prices are quoted for adult singles. Under 16 and family discount tickets are also available.
Tickets can be booked online from the club's website.
Fans can also purchase membership to the club. This entitles the holder to watch all one/four day league matches and all home group stage Twenty20 cup matches. Members are also entitled to priority booking and discounts for the Cheltenham Cricket Festival and the Gloucester Festival. Adult membership costs £140 per annum with discounts for children and families. Executive membership grants the holder entrance to the Executive Club suite, priority parking and discounted hospitality rates. Executive membership starts at £225 per person per annum.
The club also offers corporate hospitality for various matches. The carpeted marquee can be booked for intimate gatherings on the boundary or larger events with catering facilities able to provide for up to 150 people. Prices are around £80 per head for Twenty20 matches. This price includes catering, parking, scorecard and a programme.
The weather can have enormous consequences in cricket matches. The way the ball moves in the air and along the ground is hugely affected by the condition of the pitch, humidity and wind. In the event that conditions are too inclement for play to take place, partial refunds can be obtained. The details as to the conditions for this accompany the tickets.
The Gloucestershire Exiles
The Gloucestershire Exiles is the official supporters' club of the team. The club publishes a biannual magazine, “Outside Edge” that includes match reports, features on past players and information on the team and fixtures. An Annual General Meeting takes place at the Cricketers' Club in London as well as a “Meet the Players” event. Membership is £10 per annum with discounts available.
For details, contact the club secretary Simon Franklin, Flat 6, Four Square Court, 405 Nelson Road, Hounslow, Middlesex TW3 3UN.