As long ago as the middle of the nineteenth century when industry often demanded that employees worked long hours, sport still formed an important part of village life.
The desire to hit a moving object may well have encouraged local men to play the game of cricket, as early records show that the game was being played in Oughtibridge as long ago as 1874. Oughtibridge Church Cricket Club were playing in a field up Burtin Lane, immediately below the Cemetery. The Zion Cricket Club was also in existence, playing their games in a field above “The Planting”, alongside Jossey Lane.
The two clubs continued in existence until 1919 when they amalgamated to form Oughtibridge Cricket Club which continues to play cricket in The South Riding League up to the present time. The ground known as The Berrying Close, or by some as The Bedding Close, alongside Station Road was donated to the village in 1921 by Oughtibridge Silica Firebrick Company Ltd, as a War Memorial to the fallen who died in the 1914-1918 war.
The names of the Presidents and Patrons are like a ‘Who’s Who’ of the history of the village and surrounding district, with many of the local industrialists, doctors and others, anxious to be associated with the sport. The Dixon’s were represented by Mr Joseph Dixon and Mr L B Dixon, Oughtibridge Silica Firebrick Company by Mr F H Brooke and Wardlow’s Steel Works by Mr M Wardlow. Other included Messrs F M Bramall, E Halstead, P J Turner and the local Headmaster, Mr J P Barratt, and the vicar, The Rev W G Largie, with Dr Hall, Dr Marsh and Dr Wyndham, the local Doctors also lending their patronage. Dr Hall was not strictly a local as he lived in the large house at the bottom of Marlcliffe Road at Wadsley, but he hired a room in a house along Station Lane, just above the park, as a surgery.
In 1906, the Church team played in the Norton and District League but it was not until 1914 that they achieved their first success by winning the championship. Extracts from the Minutes of the Church Cricket Club meetings, which were held in the Wesleyan Reform Chapel, make interesting reading.
15 September 1914: After 40 years in existence, Oughtibridge Cricket Club gained first honours by winning the Championship of the Norton and District League. Proposed we have 14 medals and delegates be allowed 2s-6p for purchase. Proposed we have a coffee supper and ask Mr Thorpe to present medals and Rev G W Largie to be Chairman.
15 October 1914: That we try and get as many as possible to help to level the ground somewhat, by removing some of the soil from the top side to the bottom.
28 October 1914: Proposed that we have a wagonette to fetch Cup and medals on 2 November.
Undated 1916: The Season 1916 was a record for the Oughtibridge Church Cricket Club. It was the first season in the Hallamshire League and they carried off the Championship, not even dropping a single point.
13 October 1919: Decided to call another meeting to invite Zion members with a view to amalgamation.
13 October 1922: Proposed we have a rabbit pie supper and concert, some Monday night after Flag presentation in Sheffield.
15 November 1922: The season of 1922 has been the best ever experienced since cricket was first played at Oughtibridge and it must be over fifty years ago. The first eleven have won the “B” Division of the Hallamshire League carrying with it a beautiful flag and also promotion to the first division. The second team have also won their division and flag. A real good performance. The third team have finished 2nd in the Chapeltown League, only being defeated by one point. The team defeated Barnes Green by dismissing them for one run. T Thomas, 7 wickets for 0 runs and A Glossop, 3 wickets for 1 run.
25 February 1932: That some form of memorial be initiated to the late Ronnie Walters and it was decided this should take some form of a cup to be bought by the club and to be known as “The Ronnie Walters Cup”. This cup is still awarded annually to the winners of the “D” Division of the Sheffield Cricket League.
Since 1921 when the ground was presented to the village, cricket and football have continued to be played there up to the present time. For several years two tennis courts were situated on the site where the pavilion now stands, but in 1935, when serious flooding took place, the courts were washed away. In those days the club relied heavily on “Gate” receipts for its income and Tommy Dransfield, or “Limpy Tommy” as he was affectionately known because of the iron on one show, made sure that everyone paid to watch the game.
Any account of cricket in Oughtibridge would not be complete without mention of some of the names of players who left their mark on the game locally. The name of Glossop must rank high in the list, which is not surprising as no less than seven brothers all played for the village club, with as many as five playing in the same side on several occasions. The eldest was Walter, better known as “Tal” who for many years was captain at both football, where he played at inside left, and cricket, where he was stumper and opening bat. He played football until he was 38 but went on to play cricket until he was 50 years of age. His memories of cricket in the early 1900’s give a vivid picture of how dedicated one had to be in order to play the game. Ernest Glossop, now ninety years of age, still enjoys relating stories above the men and the games played so many decades ago. An away match at White Lane, Chapeltown, often meant a long walk to get there, whilst for an away fixture at Hathersage, it was necessary to hire old Ely Morton’s wagonette which could seat up to 22 passengers and required two horses to pull it. It needed a 10 o’clock start in order to get there for 3 pm, and it was late in the evening when they arrived back at Oughtibridge after refreshment at one or two of the local hostelries.
Two other brothers served the club with distinction for many years. John and Tommy Roberts were both very useful with the bat, so much so that it was said that Tommy could have played for Yorkshire. Just what his reaction was in 1925, when the Captain, Walter Glossop, in what he described as “the grandest match he had ever seen”, declared, when Oughtibridge had scored 240 for 5 wickets against Hallam and Tommy Roberts was 93 Not Out.
It is not possible to mention all the players who, in the past, made Oughtibridge worthy opponents for any other team in the surrounding district, but a few who come to mind include the two Minnis’s, Ronnie Walters, Raymond Gott, and his two sons, John and Barry who sadly, whilst batting for Whitley Hall against his old club, Oughtibridge, collapsed and died, the George Morton’s, father and son, Cyril Ball, Lol Buet, Denis Lister, the Nornables - Alf and Doug, and Roy Dennis, who’s brother-in-law was Len Hutton and Edgar Sheldon.
Taken from “A Layman’s Look at the History, Industry, People and Places of Oughtibridge, Worrall and Wharncliffe Side – by Doug Sanderson (Published 1999)