Page:Jubilee Book of Cricket (Second edition, 1897).djvu/446

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at the Oval took place in the spring of 1845, Mr Charles W. Alcock, J.P., who has been Surrey's most popular secretary since April 7, 1872, has placed on record the following excellent notes in connection with Surrey cricket:—

In the 1845 diary of the late Mr Briant, who occupied the "Horns," at Kenmngton, for over fifty years, is an entry which cannot fail to be of interest to Surrey cricketers. At least, it is an evidence of the initial ceremony which secured for them the possession of a county ground with proper appliances. "March 1845.—The nursery ground, the Oval, Kennington, taken for a cricket-ground by Mr Houghton, the President of the Montpelier Club, from the 'Bee-Hive,' Walworth; thirty-one years' lease, at £120; taxes about £20; turf laid by Mr South, greengrocer." The early history of the Oval was not one of unmixed success. The management of Mr Houghton, and, perhaps, a want of firmness on the part of the first honorary secretary, led to such a critical condition of things that the break-up of the CluB was very nearly accomplished. As it was, it was mainly the personal influence of the Earl of Bessborough which prevented such a disaster, and Surrey cricketers have primarily to thank him for the preservation of the Oval as a recreation ground from at least its first danger.

Even then there were difficulties which had to be overcome before the ground came under the direct control of the Surrey County Cricket Club. Mr Houghton was the man in possession, but Mr John Burrup, a name which will always be held in respect and veneration as long as the memory of Surrey cricket remains, happily furnished a way out of the embarrassment. A decision not to play any more matches at the Oval brought the lessee to his senses, and, as a consequence of his transfer, the lease of the ground fell into the hands of the Committee of the Surrey County Club, who have retained hold of it ever since. The first match played on the Oval, it may be of interest to state, was between the Mitcham and Montpelier Clubs, in 1845. In those days the wickets were pitched across the ground, and, with a due regard to the eternal fitness of things, the opening game produced a remarkable finish, resulting in a tie. Though, as was only to be expected, the early history of the Club shoved not a few vicissitudes, still, under Mr John Burrup's able management, which lasted from 1848 to 1855, the star of Surrey was unmistakably in the ascendant. For three successive years—1849, 1850, and 1851—the eleven could claim an unbeaten record. Their successes, just about this time, were still more pronounced, for in 1852 the County met, and moreover beat, England single-handed. Daniel Day and old Tom Sherman were the chief bowlers, with William Martingell as first change; and even then the eleven contained, in addition to veterans like those named, as well as Mr "Felix," George Brockwell, a pensioner of the County Club for very many years, Mr C. H. Hoare, its treasurer from 1844 to 1869, James Chester, Joseph Heath, a trio of professional players who were just beginning to lay the foundation of future greatness—W. Caffyn, Julius Cæsar, and Thomas Lockyer. After a long and successful tenure of office, the requirements of business compelled Mr John Burrup to give up the office of honorary secretary, but it did not pass out of the family, and in the hands of his brother, Mr William Burrup, the