Surely every active cricketer dreams of playing at least once in their lives at Lord’s.
It is a dream that few can realise, but since 1972 thousands of cricketers across the country begin their season with a genuine hope that this might be their year. The Village Cup was the brainchild of Ben Brocklehurst, proprietor of The Cricketer magazine, with the national competition attracting village sides from all over the British Isles, concluding with a final at Lord’s. Brocklehurst found support at Lord’s in the form of Aidan Crawley, MCC Committee Member and Chairman of the National Cricket Association, the body in charge of recreational cricket. The competition was an immediate success. In its first year it acquired sponsorship from Whisky distillers Haig and attracted around 600 entries.
The Final at Lord’s was contested on 9 September by Astwood Bank from Worcestershire and Troon from Cornwall. Put in to bat, Astwood Bank made a solid start, reaching 136 for 2, but then an inspired spell from P. Jones (5 for 25) sent them into a tailspin. Five wickets went down for nine runs and the Worcestershire team limped to the end of their 40 overs with 165 for 8. Two wickets from Frank Morrall kept them in the game, but then a confident 79 not out from Troon captain Terry Carter swung the momentum conclusively back the other way. The winning runs came in stirring style with a six, taking the Cup back to Cornwall.
Troon returned the following year to retain their title, beating Gowerton of Glamorgan by 12 runs. A third victory for the Cornishmen came in 1976, and they were beaten finalists in 1983. Their record of three titles was equalled by Glamorgan’s St Fagan’s in 1991 and surpassed by Woodhouse Grange of North Yorkshire, who won their fourth Final at Lord’s in 2015. The Village Cup Final remains regular annual fixture at Lord’s and boasts one of the most pleasant atmospheres of any match on the Ground, with a strong turnout from both villages guaranteed.