Welwyn Garden City Cricket Club was founded in the autumn of 1921 although six matches were played during the summer, with S J. Yuill as Honorary Secretary and Capt. R L Reiss as President and Captain.
The first match was against Hatfield Hyde (played with only 10 men with 2 legs and the 11th man C H James who had lost a leg in the war. The team were dismissed for 14 (of which five were extras) and were soundly beaten.
In the spring of 1921 the Company had levelled and turfed a cricket table where the Parkway section of the Stores now stands. There was practically no rain between March & October and the ground was practicably unplayable but it was used during the next 3 seasons.
During the winter of 1924 a new and quite good ground was constructed, south of Howardsgate and laying between Parkway and Longcroft Lane. The Club moved here in 1925. For the next few years the club played fairly full fixture lists against teams from surrounding villages with increasing levels of success. 1926 was a major year in the Club’s history. The First XI only lost one match – and that only by a few runs and also secured an unexpected victory over St Albans. After batting first and making 118 WGC bowled a St Albans side which included the head of the County averages (J.G. Bland) out for 24.
In 1928 the present ground at Digswell Park became available and the Club has played there ever since.
In 1989 the Cricket Club, together with Welwyn Garden City Bowls Club joined forces to become the Digswell Park Sports Association and this association together with the social section allows the club to continue to grow, whilst the clubhouse allows for a variety of social events as well as being used on match days.
Over the years the club has, of course, enjoyed mixed fortunes, winning trophies (in 1995 four of the five available to Herts League Premier Division clubs) and in recent times having gained promotion to the Home Counties League and acquitting themselves well the club returned to the Saracens Hertfordshire Cricket League when they established their Premier Division in 2014.
Since then the club has fielded 5 sides on a Saturday with varying fortunes for the 2’s, 3’s, 4’s and 5’s. The 1st XI have done well, never finishing out of the top 4 and coming top in 2017. In consecutive seasons the 1st XI also won the play-off games – 2016 (v Radlett by 131 runs); 2017 (v Totteridge Millhillians by 1 wicket (DLS)) and 2018 (again v Totteridge Millhillians by 7 wickets).
The club has also fielded Sunday XI’s who have competed in the Chess Valley League and who won the Herts on Sunday League in 2001 and the North Herts Cricket League in 2015.
The club runs an active junior section for all age groups and many of these progress through to become integral to the senior teams. The credit for this goes to all those who have given freely given their time to coach, run the admin and get young player to fixtures each year and, of course, those who run the popular Sunday morning café. In particular, thanks should go to Ian Watkins who has done so much to make sure the junior section thrives and to Russell Haggar who is following in Ian’s footsteps.
The last couple of years have been difficult for the cricket club, as they have been for everyone – Covid 19 cut the 2020 season in half, although at least some cricket was played when it looked like the whole season might be lost.
For the future the hope is that, with a long lease on Digswell Park secured, the club will continue to thrive and grow both on and off the field.