While the club looks to the future, and sewing the seeds of many years to come with its thriving youth section, it’s important to know what has preceded us.
Records show a match was staged between villagers and a the tenants of a local landlord in the early 1790 (rumours Twyford still have players who took part remain unconfirmed). By the 1870s, regular matches were held in the village, almost certainly featuring dodgy umpiring, terrible fielding and epic batting collapses.
The modern history of the club can be traced to the purchase of the King George V Recreation Field. Cricket was played there regularly from the 1930s, with the characterful but somewhat squalid pavilion providing changing and tea-eating facilities. League cricket at the time was unheard of, and the sides played “friendlies”, although local derbies against the likes of Wargrave were often “competitive”.
Twyford and Ruscombe were a cricketing powerhouse in the 1950s and 1960s and even won the first ever Berkshire evening cricket club, sponsored by the Reading Evening Post, in 1966 – the big success story of English sport that year.
Two years later, a teenager called Tom Fort marched to the wicket for the first time. 50 years later, the same man still dons his whites, and the SAME MOTH-EATEN JUMPER he wore as a child, to turn out for the Sunday side in times of need. He can’t run, see, or catch (so fits in well) but “definitely can still bowl”.
By the 1990s, the then crop of players realised they were actually quite handy, and the gentle world of friendly Sunday cricket was not satisfying their needs. A league side was formed, entering the Berkshire Cricket League in 1997.
The team, a formidable outfit, featuring fearsome fast bowler David Downes, who sits in second place in the club’s all time wicket list (behind his brother Nic, who no-one has ever referred to as a “fearsome fast bowler”), won promotion from Division Four.
The club was booming, but June 1999 saw a devastating incident which left the club on the verge of collapse. An act of shocking vandalism saw the aged pavilion reduced to a pile of smouldering rubble after an arson attack. Nothing was left, the club’s kit, scoreboard, stumps and everything else required to host a game of cricket was destroyed. The incident would have led to the demise of lesser clubs, and, make no mistake, there were some bleak years.
Seasons spent wandering (playing every game away), a player exodus and the deterioration of the playing area all followed the loss of the pavilion.
Due to some hard work and very dedicated individuals who would not even consider letting the club fade away, TRCC managed to survive, and after a few years of treading water, steps were made to end the club’s time at The Rec and move to pastures new at Stanlake Meadow.
Following the creation of a cricket square – not an easy thing to do – and the return of Sunday cricket, the new ground was even opened by local MP Theresa May (whatever happened to her?) A return to the league then followed.
But the major and arguably most important step in the club’s recent history was the formation of a youth cricket section. The first incarnation was a small group of teenagers, who a group of loyal coaches nurtured into a decent team of cricketers. Some of the then youngsters are now regulars in our league and Sunday sides.
The second incarnation has been extraordinary. The club now has more than 100 boys and girls, from under 9 to under 15 level. The scenes at Stanlake Meadow on Thursday evenings really are a sight to behold, with a team of Level One and Two coaches overseeing training sessions.
Some of the older boys are now making regular appearances in the Sunday side and the club aims to be able to enter a second side featuring some of its young stars into the league in the near future.
After some desperate years, Twyford and Ruscombe CC is slowly returning to its former glories.
Credit must go to a range of individuals within the club for their steely determination not only to not let the club die, but to then look to the future.
As of 2018, the club is in the best shape it has been for a long time.
The league side is in Division Two of the Berkshire League, the Sunday side led by Marc Teal now has no problem putting sides out, the youth section is thriving and an improvement plan is now in place to ensure the club continues to move forward over the coming years.
The term a “phoenix rising from the ashes” is a hackneyed cliche, but it does ring true with Twyford and Ruscombe Cricket Club.
Thanks to all who have grafted to make the club what it is today.