Almost ever since the village of Grampound Road came into existence in the late 1850s alongside the railway station, cricket has been a part of the community.
There is evidence of a club existing from 1880 onwards, playing friendlies against local sides such as Veryan and a local ‘derby’ versus Grampound. The club in its’ present form was founded in 1936 by Jim Brewer, who was an auctioneer in the village. It was said that Jim used to go around the village and inform people they would be playing cricket the following day and wouldn’t take no for an answer!
The club continued to play friendlies throughout the War until play was suspended and the Playing Field used as a base for American troops.
Once the Germans were defeated in 1945 and life began to return to normal, so the fixtures became more regular. The Road were playing against League sides and found they could more than hold their own – notching up seven successive wins in 1951. This form encouraged the committee at the time to explore entering the Cornish cricket leagues and at the AGM in December 1959, the secretary Ted Dearman announced that the application to enter the league was accepted for the following season.
The committee were proved right in their attempts to enter the league. Entering in Junior Division One, which was effectively the second tier, the club swept all before them remarkably winning 14 games out of 14 that season! Including Roseland Evening League games and friendlies, Simon Molineux and captain Gordon Johns both claimed over 100 wickets for the season. In fact, Johns would end up repeating that feat on at least two other occasions where records are known! It is very difficult to put an exact number on in but Johns is the second leading wicket taker in the club’s league history with almost 800 so there appears to be enough evidence to suggest he probably took over 1000 wickets for the club. Not to mention the fact that he captained for eight of the first ten seasons in league cricket and later in life held the position of chairman for eight seasons – a busy man and without doubt a significant figure in our history.
Despite the success of 1960, the club was denied promotion to the Senior League in a time where you had to apply and be voted in to the higher echelons. Unperturbed, the club nearly swept all before them once again, storming to a second successive league title having won 30 and only losing two games in the first two seasons of league competition. This time promotion couldn’t be denied and the club rightfully took its’ place in the Senior Leagues for 1962. 1961 also saw the formation of the second XI which played in Junior Two initially and finished a creditable 5th place.
In 1963, a 17 year old batter by the name of John Warne registered the club’s first ever League century at home against Veryan. John would go on to notch at least another nine league hundreds for the club in a total of over 13,000 first XI runs – making him the leading runscorer in the history of the first team and one of the greatest batters the club has ever produced.
The remainder of the 60s saw both sides stabilise in their respective divisions and a number of major players come through the ranks to establish themselves. The firsts finished as high as second in Senior One in 1968 and the second XI finishing runners-up themselves in Junior Two (South) in 1966. Sadly the time in the higher league only lasted for a couple of seasons but the conveyor belt of talent continued to provide.
The club reached the Hawkey Cup Final for the first time in 1964, an extraordinary tie with both teams being bowled out for 89. The replay saw Wadebridge sneak home by three wickets chasing just 60 to win. That was the first of a current record 10 runners-up awards in the competition. Repeat appearances followed in 1966 and 1969 but the silverware would prove to be elusive for some while yet.
As the 70s dawned, the first GRCC player was selected for Cornwall. Pat Coombe had become a feared bowler in the Senior Leagues and the club were very proud to see one of their own selected to wear the Chough. He would go on to play for Cornwall 12 times while representing Grampound Road. New signing for the 70s Brian Read and club legend John Warne were also picked for Cornwall during the decade.
On the pitch, the 70s were a successful decade and 1975 in particular would prove particularly memorable. The club were crowned champions in Senior One East for the first time, losing the County Final against Penzance despite a whirlwind century from captain Mike Hocking. He smashed a ton in 98 balls, with a second fifty in just 35 deliveries. Sadly only one other player made double figures and the overall county title would remain elusive. Also that season the club reached the last eight of the Village Cup, then known as the Haig Cup, only losing to eventual champions Gowerton.
1975 was also the year of an extraordinary time with the ball for B Pugsley in the second team. Nine wickets in his first three games was a good start but was no indication of the carnage to come. On 21st June, away to St. Blazey, Mr. Pugsley returned unbelievable figures of 9-22 in 14.3 overs. He was promptly promoted to the first team and didn’t bowl before returning to the second string and destroying Looe with 8-26. The following week at Lanhydrock he incredibly beat his best figures with 9-14. The first team call came again after that, and with 1-24 in 9 overs didn’t let anyone down. However, that was the end of first team opportunities for that season so Pugsley took out any frustrations on unwitting batters in the Junior leagues with 22 wickets in the remaining six games that he played, including yet another 9-wicket haul and a bag of five. He ended the season with a scarcely believable 58 wickets all told in 14 matches, averaging 5.67. His figures of 9-14, 9-22 and 9-31 remain the best, second best and fourth best on record in the club’s league history. That was the only season he appeared for the club.
Another notable personal achievement was notched in 1978. John Warne became the first batter in the club’s history (and I believe only the second-ever at the time) to score 1000 league runs in a season. It was a feat he would repeat in 1980 and is something that has only been achieved once in the following years, which was by Chris Davey (1301 runs) in 2018.
In the 1980s, the club was becoming a force to be reckoned with on the field. Under the captaincy of John Warne, the side reached the Hawkey Cup final again in 1981, losing to Callington, before finally claiming the prize for the first time by beating Newquay in 1983. They completed the double by beating the big boys of Penzance in the Edwards Cup final thus becoming Twenty over champions of Cornwall. Andy Coombe starred in both finals, picking up the Man of the Match award in the Hawkey Cup and a late assault with 20 off just six balls in the Edwards Cup would probably have seen him pick up that award as well if it existed back then!
In the bread and butter of the league, the Road were consistent in finishing in the top three for five consecutive seasons and the top two for four, finally picking up the title again in 1984, losing out to St. Gluvias in the County final this time. The second team also competed well, winning a couple of promotions in the early 80s and getting into Junior One for two seasons before stabilising in Division Two for the remainder of the decade.
In 1990 there was a seismic change in Cornish cricket. The top two divisions were made county-wide affairs so the club found themselves in the new County One, the top tier. The second team were now in Division Five East and a third XI was entered for the first time, into Division Seven East. The 90s started a bit of a downturn in fortunes for the first XI. They struggled in the new set up, relegated from the top tier in 1991 before bouncing back the following year only to immediately return to County Two again. The Hawkey Cup / Edwards Cup double was snapped up for the second time in 1990 however but there would be no more finals for 12 years.
The Second team, under the stewardship of John Warne and with Chris Davey to the fore, gained two promotions in three years as well as winning the County finals on both occasions. A season of struggle for them in 1994 saw them drop back to Division Four where they would stay for the next six seasons.
The Thirds, meanwhile, remained active for six seasons initially, with a highest position of 3rd in the South version of Division 8 in 1993.
Three became two for 1996 as the club contracted a little. The firsts still struggled in County 2, often finishing in the lower reaches of the table but staving off the threat of relegation. 1996 was also notable for a change behind the scenes at the club. Clive Jago relinquished the position of secretary at the end of the season, ending a spell that started in 1970. The club has been extremely fortunate to have members such as Clive who commit themselves to ensure the Road functions smoothly; in fact, we have only had four secretaries since becoming a league club!
During the 1998 season, Pete Davey wrote himself into the club record books. As well as being one of the youngest permanent first team captains at just 18, he broke Howard Nicholls’ 20 year old record for the highest club score, smashing Holmans to the tune of 163 runs. That remains the highest score at home for the first XI and has been passed just once, by Tom Hughes against Launceston in 2009 in all matches for the first team.
For the last season of the millennium, the club decided to take a new approach. Martin Roberts was appointed by the club as a player/coach, the first appointment of its’ kind in the county. Roberts also assumed captaincy duties with Davey moving on to Camborne. With a mix of youth with the likes of Chris Hunkin and Martin Pearce coming through and blending with the experience of Roberts, Nigel Sanders and Keith Lean the side roared to the County 2 title. During the season, Sanders became the second (and so far last) player to cross the milestone 10,000 runs for the first team.
In 2001, the Premier League was introduced for the first time and the Road duly took their place at the top table. While the first XI finished in the middle of the table, it was the turn of the Second and Thirds to have some on-field success. With seasoned players such as Nigel Sanders and John Martin dropping down to add their experience, the seconds losing just twice as their batting might proved too much for the contenders in Division Three. In fact, the team scored over 4500 runs during the season, with four players scoring individual hundreds; John Martin notched four, Mike Bawden and Pete Emery three each and Nigel Sanders one. The magical 400 mark was crossed twice (the only two occasions so far in club history) and 300 passed a further three times. The side proceeded to swat away the challenge of Mawnan in the County Final as well, bowling them out for 57 and sweeping to a ten-wicket win. The third team were challenging for honours as well, ending up runners-up in Division 7 before going on to win the league and County final in 2002 and winning Division Six the year after. It was the breakthrough time for a number of players who make up the First team to this day with Chris Roberts, Lewis Sanders and Joey Bustin starting to make a name for themselves.
The seconds weren’t promoted to Division Two despite this success due to the leagues being shuffled around again. The Firsts finished in their highest ever Premier League position of third in a record 27-game season. Chris Hunkin and Martin Pearce, in particular, were leading the way for the club, both of whom making County debuts just after the turn of the century. In fact, Hunkin would go on to be the club’s leading county appearance holder with 92 appearances for his county.
This period would go on to be a golden time for Grampound Road cricketers as a number would go on to represent Cornwall including Nick Carter, Lewis Sanders and Chris Roberts. Also, our female cricketers were beginning to be noticed with Nat Dyer becoming our first representative for the Cornwall Women’s team in 2009.
The club stabilised in the mid-2000s, and once the second team were promoted to Division Two for 2003 they remained there until finally succumbing to relegation in 2022 save for one ill-fated season promoted to County One. A fourth XI was established in 2007 and started well, finishing fourth in Division 6 but withdrew midway through the following season. In fact, 2008 would prove to be a very unhappy year for the club with the other three teams finishing bottom of their leagues and suffering relegation.
Martin Roberts took over the reins again in 2009 and the Firsts bounced straight back to the Premier League at the first attempt, winning County One. They comfortably held their own on returning to the top flight and began to attract big players to the club while having a strong, home-grown core. In 2013, the side was regularly made up of talent that had come through the ranks and on more than one occasion boasted nine players who had grown up at the Road. A new pavilion was built on the field adjacent to the old Playing Field and was officially opened in 2014 by Sir Tim Rice.
The formidable side couldn’t quite get over the line to win the Premier League, and despite Hawkey Cup wins again in 2016 and 2019, the fortunes were sadly on the decline. A number of players decided to move on to pastures new and as a result, the club struggled. While the seconds remained remarkably consistent in Division Two, the firsts were always facing an uphill struggle and the inevitable relegation from the Premier League happened in 2021. The third team were a steady side in Division Four, including Chris Davey’s annus mirabilis in 2018 leading them to a best-ever finish of fourth.
The fourth team finished as high as 3rd in Division 6 in 2016 but struggled to field a consistent side as withdrawals further up the food chain impacted. It is due to this that they are still waiting for their first piece of silverware but it may not be far away, with a thriving youth set up and plenty of talent waiting in the wings.
The women’s team started to become more competitive as the 2010s progressed, with Caitlin Burnett in particular leading the way. She is currently our second-most capped County cricketer with 76 appearances for Cornwall so far (correct to the end of the 2022 season). The ladies finally got over the last hurdle for the cricket club in becoming County Champions for the first time in 2019. It went down to a thrilling, last-day shootout with Penzance with both teams having won four games out of four. Izzy Grant-French was the main catalyst with the bat, striking 95* in a total of 176-3. They then bowled out the home side for 112 to win by 64 runs and bring home the title.
In the Covid season of 2020 they repeated the feat by gaining enough bonus points in the last game at Redruth, mainly due to the fact they racked up 191-0 in their overs, Millie Sweet 105* and Steph Key 54*. Unfortunately they still lost the game but managed to sneak over the line once again.
After 63 complete league seasons (to the end of 2022), the club has managed to win two Women’s League titles and 13 Divisional titles in the Saturday leagues. The Hawkey Cup and Edwards Cup has been bagged five and three times respectively and a total of 452 County appearances for Grampound Road cricketers. Not bad for a small village club!