On This Day - First home FC match
First FC Match at Grace Road
Five counties were made ‘first class’ in 1894, though curiously they did not take part in the county championship until the following year. They were there ‘on merit’ for they had been playing the top counties (ie Yorkshire, Notts and Surrey) in three day, non first class matches for several years, as well as similar length games between themselves.
Thursday 17th May
The match started in dull, chilly weather. Leicestershire were at full strength, Yorkshire (who had beaten Lancashire over the preceding, Whit Bank Holiday weekend) were four short, those not playing including Lord Hawke and Sir Stanley Jackson.
Between three and four thousand people attended on the first day.
Friday 18th May
Fine weather greeted the players on the second day, but Dick Pougher (4 wickets) and George Hillyard (6) dismissed Yorkshire for 146, giving them a lead of just 10 runs. In their second innings, the captain CE de Trafford (who did not wear batting gloves) scored 92 out of 131. Needing just 122 for Victory, Yorkshire fell short. Once again, Hillyard and Pougher took all 10 wickets.
True, Yorkshire were not at full strength, but earlier on in the week they had defeated Lancashire in a Championship match by an innings, and they were the reigning county champions. This victory by Leicestershire followed a victory in their first match against Essex at Leyton. In this game, Dick Pougher scored 109 not out, and took 14 wickets for 150. Between 14th and 18th May, he took 24 wickets for 238 runs and scored a century.
As they say, a useful start!
Dick Pougher was Leicestershire’s first test match player, by virtue of a match in South Africa in 1892. One of his bats is displayed in the ‘Charles Palmer’. For several years, he ran the Old Cricket Ground Pub on Grace Road, which is where the Umpire’s bell that Phil Wright rings before the start of each session originates.
Let’s hope it will start ringing soon.
Richard Holdridge - Club Historian