CRICKET IN CAPEL
An early reference to the founding of the first cricket club in the parish can be found in a newspaper cutting of April 1892.
The moving forces appear to have been the curate of Capel, the Rev George Louis Lachlan and his colleague the Rev F. Case, who were also committed more widely to "the improvement of the state of Five Oak Green which for many years has been neglected."
As part of the push, a well attended general meeting of the nascent Five Oak Green cricket club was held at the King's Arms with the Rev. Lachlan presiding.
In what looks like an early form of sponsorship a Mr J.T. Baker from the Quarry Hill Brewery had made a field available and it was said that a pitch would be laid down with immediate effect.
The Rev. Lachlan was appointed captain with the Rev. Case as president. Regular practice nights were to be held and the club looked forward to some "interesting matches."
That surely included the final game of the 1893 season when the Single Men from the club beat the Married Men in a match followed by a meat tea and a smoking concert at the King's Head.
Tom Pawley, captain of the more established Tonbridge Cricket Club, chaired the evening and offered useful advice to his less established fellow players - "that a man should always play for his side and not merely for himself."
He forecast that If the Five Oak Green club persevered as it had been doing, despite a lack of success thus far, it would soon flourish.
The Married v Singles match looks to have been an annual affair towards the close of each season with a game at Tolhurst's Field in September 1895 ending in a decisive victory for the Singles. They batted first and made 132 then promptly dismissed the Marrieds for 32 -- scraped together not in one innings but two !
It was suggested the Marrieds, who were captained by the Rev. Lachlan, may have been short of players because the hop season was in full swing.
Despite the heavy loss, all adjourned to the King's Head for a first-class tea followed by a smoking concert with the Rev Church, captain of the Singles, presiding.
By 1924, and possibly earlier, Tom Pawley's predictions were bearing fruit with end of season figures showing Capel having played 14, won 9, lost 4 and drawn 1. S. Tully topped the batting with 227 runs from 13 innings for an average of 17.46.
D. Taylor, who hit the highest score of the season with a 71, also topped the bowling with 40 wickets at an average of 7.4.
Sid Waterman, a regular since 1919, averaged just 4.4 from 11 innings but there were happier times in December 1927 when he married Miss Elsie Tolhurst, with the club giving the happy couple a dinner service to mark the occasion.
Just two months earlier, in another show of unity, the football club had offered to fund the labour and half the material costs of enlarging the pavilion - an offer readily accepted at the cricket club's annual meeting which also boldly agreed to run a second team from 1928
Cricket was played in a truncated form in the Second World War but one day in 1942 proved special when a Capel District Side took on a London Counties X1 in Five Oak Green.
The match featured Leslie Compton, brother of Denis, and Alf Gover, famed Surrey and England fast bowler who ended with figures of 8-38) the visitors recording a comfortable success despite a bold 60 from Peter Sunnucks, a Kent player turning out for the home side.
He lifted the total to 135 all out but Leslie Compton's run-a-minute 79 helped secure an easy win for the opposition.
In a move possibly well ahead of its time, permission was granted in May 1946 to play matches on a Sunday - the day now used almost exclusively by the current club. The president back in 1946 was Sir Henry d'Avigdor Goldsmid with Mr C. Pemble captain and chairman.
In 2012, the new club, re-formed after a gap of 40 years, commemorated the famous 1942 game with a match against local rivals King's Hil from West Malling.
Ex-England and Kent star Derek Underwood and local MP Greg Clark attended along with 89-year-old Raymond Bousfield who played in the 1942 event as people celebrated the return of cricket to the parish.
Three years on the club, mindful maybe of Tom Pawley's words back in 1893, continues to flourish, witnessed not least by its extended pavilion, a thriving team with a full fixture list and a healthy junior section every Sunday morning.