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History of the HAC

History of the HAC

Liam Casey19 Apr - 13:43
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Military Notes, The Artillery Ground, Current Cricket

Military Notes:

The Honourable Artillery Company is the oldest military unit in the British Army. Its formal origins date back to August 25th, 1537, when Henry VIII granted it a Charter of Incorporation. The St George guild, an existing guild of archers and handgun men, was transformed into the Artillery Company. This guild is the only link between the army of today and the medieval "trained bands" of the City of London, which were set up to protect its citizens. The Artillery Company is also the senior regiment of the Territorial Army
If you want to learn more about the HAC, click here.

The Artillery Ground:

Since 1641, the headquarters of the Artillery Company have been established in the Artillery Garden, which also became the headquarters of archery for All England. However, the military authorities and cricket have not always been on the best terms. On October 7th, 1725, the Court of Assistants of the Artillery Company recorded in their minutes their displeasure at the "abuse which Mr Robinson had done to the Herbage of the ground by permitting Horses to be Rode and Breathed...and also by Crickett Players." Robinson had a lease of the ground.

Five years later, on August 31st, 1730, the first recorded cricket match on the ground occurred, where "Lord's beat Surrey by 6 notches, winning the 20 guineas stake money," as reported in the Grub Street Journal on September 3rd, 1730. The earliest match of which the full scores are recorded occurred on the ground on June 18th, 1744, between Kent and All England. Kent won by one wicket in front of a large crowd who paid the first recorded admission fee of 2d. In the same year, the London Club, which played on the ground, drew up the first known issue of the Laws of Cricket. Their President was then the Prince of Wales, who later became George II.

Records suggest that some of the highest-quality cricket matches in the country were played during this period, and In 1775, during a match between Hammboldon and Kent at the Artillery Ground, the middle stump was mentioned as a rule for the first time. Edward 'Lumpy' Stevens of Kent bowled three successive deliveries to John Small of Hamboldon that went straight through the two stumps instead of hitting them, causing Kent to lose. This incident resulted in the introduction of a middle stump in cricket.
However, during the 1770s, gambling on cricket matches was rife, and large bets were being placed on matches, leading to the authorities banning cricket from being played.

Finally, in 1834, a number of members petitioned for the ban to be lifted "to encourage recruits to the Company." In 1846, the Court of Assistants finally relented, subject to strict rules restricting players to being members of the Company who had paid their subscription and attended a certain number of drills, with games on Mondays and Fridays only. Few records exist until the turn of the century when regular cricket was again played. After the First World War, the HAC became one of the strongest clubs in London, with the ground being convenient for city workers who left their offices at lunchtime on Saturdays.

Current Cricket:

The HAC runs three teams: a 1XI that plays mainly on Sundays, an AXI that plays games on Saturdays, and a Squadron's XI which plays 20/20 matches on Monday evenings. We aim to create a friendly atmosphere where everyone can bat, bowl, or keep. However, when we take the field, we play to win. We play a variety of non-league sides, including Wandering, Military, Old Boys, universities, and other teams in and around London. This is social cricket, not a gritty Saturday league cricket experience. It is more like an MCC-type game without all the ties. 

Further reading