Capel Cricket Club was founded in 1892 at the instigation of the Rev. G. L. Lachlan, who became its first captain. He wanted to provide a suitable activity for the men of Five Oak Green, and at a meeting in the King’s Head a committee was formed, with matches played on a field provided by Mr. Baker of the Quarry Hill Brewery. From then on, even during the war years, cricket played a central role in village life, the team members, as they are today, mainly living or working in the Parish of Capel.
In the 1930s an attractive pavilion was built in memory of team member Tom Tolhurst, son of a local prominent farming family who died tragically young in a road accident. Matches were originally played only on Saturdays, but in 1946 Sunday games were allowed.
One of the most notable events in the club’s long history is the match of May 9th 1942 when the London Counties XI played Capel and District on the hallowed turf of our village ground. With professional sport substantially restricted during wartime this match must have been a welcome opportunity for the visiting team. All but one were professionals, most had played for Surrey or Middlesex; some, like Alf Gover the Surrey fast bowler, had also had a test career.
Capel and District were bolstered by three Kent players with local connections, Peter Sunnucks, John Knott and ‘Hopper’ Levett (whose nickname derived from his association with this part of the county as as he was born in nearby Matfield), the county’s wicketkeeper who played one test for England in the 1930s.
The match was won easily by London Counties as Gover took 8 – 38 to dismiss Capel for 135, of which Sunnucks scored 60. Leslie Compton, brother of the more famous Denis, then scored 79 at a run a minute to knock off the runs. Denis Compton himself played in all the other London Counties fixtures that year so we must presume it was only injury that prevented him from taking on the challenge of playing on our ground.
It was a sad day when, after 80 years, the club closed around 1972 and the last game was played on the recreation ground.
The continuing existence of the pavilion and former square served as a constant reminder of what had been, and in 2010 a group of the village’s cricket enthusiasts held a meeting as a result of which a re-formed Capel Cricket Club played its first full season a year later.
May 19th 2012, saw a special 70th Anniversary Match commemorating that London Counties fixture, with Ray Bousfield, who had played for Capel and District in 1942, as our honoured guest watching from the boundary. The day was a great occasion which will long live in the memory. After months of hard work the old pavilion was ready for use and was officially opened by Derek Underwood of Kent and England with local MP Greg Clark making a speech of congratulation. A crowd of 250 watched the match, and to crown the day Capel defeated the visiting King’s Hill team.