Failand & Portbury Cricket Club is a community driven cricket club in north somerset just 5 miles from Bristol. Our cricket players come from Somerset, Bristol, Gloucestershire, South Wales, Oxfordshire and even London to play at a one of the nicest cricket grounds in Bristol and North Somerset. Below is some of the history of the club that has been playing cricket for over 120 years.
Portbury CC was founded in 1889 and amalgamated with Failand CC 5 years later to give us the club we know today.
The first president was Mrs Georgina Maxwell Brittan of Failand Hill and subscriptions for playing members were set at a florin for the first year and one shilling annually after that. However, records show that this was rapidly updated to five shillings for honorary members and half a crown for players. One explanation may be that there was some rivalry between local “lords” of the manors and a majority of teams was made up of “squire’s men”- estate workers who were subsidised- and gave the local lords a lift in prestige and a stronger say in what went on. Half a crown was, after all in those days, a fairly hefty annual subscription for a working man. Mrs.Brittan was assisted in her task by two vice presidents: Rev. E.O. Taylor and the Rev. J.Hoamy.
The strength of the new club can be seen from the formation of a 2nd XI in 1896 (Failand & Portbury went for 75 years without a 2nd XI until it was reformed in 1976. It then went on to win promotion two years in succession).
One problem for the players was that the club lacked a pavilion. In 1901, after much lobbying, an agreement was signed with Mrs Brittan to “use a portion of the field known as Barley Close and to erect in a position approved by her, a pavilion”. It rid the club of annually erecting a tent for the season, but it also contained a tough stipulation - any infringement of terms gave Mrs Brittan the right to make them pull down the pavilion in 14 days, and worse, make good her land.
Records show the details of the cost of that 1901 erected pavilion totalled just £43.00- a far cry from the amount paid out for the current building! A relative of the club’s first benefactor, Col. Brittan, was President in 1909, when prizes were awarded for best batting and bowling averages, these were consistently won by Rev. H.G.Barnes and G.W.Down, Captain and Vice Captain respectively.
1927 was a star year when the club included the Petty brothers in its team strength:
The club list of captains is relatively short, which shows a strong loyalty within the club. Since 1948 these have been: Cyril Ball, Rev.Walter Young, Mervyn Down, Mike Heyes, Paul Lewis, Lyndon Prendergast, Richard Whittington, Paul Bachelor, David O’Nions, Simon Bachelor, John Bachelor, Phil Gay, Simon Cox, Edward Humphreys, Alastair McArthur and Mark Day.
It was in 1969 that the club faced its greatest threat; it was almost bankrupt, but a group of stalwarts, led by a go-ahead committee, pulled the club up and set it on its feet. In that same year urgent steps had to be taken to increase the talent in the team. Under the initial agreement of 1901 its catchment area was limited to the populations of Failand and Portbury, an area with just a few hundred residents. A decision was taken to go outside for further players and today playing members also come from all over North Somerset, Bristol and further afield.
A colourful episode was a period in 1956 when the club refused to be rated- the row reached Ministerial level in the shape of no lesser a person than Enoch Powell. Many would call it a storm in a teacup as the rates due on the pavilion were for the sum of just £2. 8s. 6d. When the first instalment was not paid by April 1, Long Ashton District Council took action. Mike Downs, the then secretary, entered into a prolonged exchange of polite but angry letters. In November the council issued a stern warning; the case was taken up by MP Ted Leather. Enoch Powell, at the end of a lengthy treatise, ruled it was a matter for the courts to decide- the club then paid up gracefully.
Failand & Portbury Cricket Club managed to get a “new” pavilion in 1971 with the erection of a wooden sectional building on the present site- the structure was formerly temporary offices on a building site at Brislington which was carefully dismantled and transported to Horse Race Lane. The wooden panelling of the bar and clubroom was taken out of the old pavilion, built in 1894. This highly skilled work was completed by Mike Heyes, the club vice-captain, and plumbing, flooring and wiring was done by members throughout the winter.
The next ‘celebration’ in the club’s long history came with the purchase of the ground in 1977 with members raising £3,000 in all sorts of ways. The club was also given generous grants by Wraxall Parish Council, Woodspring District Council and a low interest loan from the National Playing Fields Association.A further chapter of the club’s history opened in [ ] with the realisation that another “new” clubhouse was needed. That dream became a reality with the construction of the current pavilion designed by architect Sebastian Smith and built by Roger Franklin Builders, giving Failand & Portbury Cricket Club facilities which are the envy of many.
In the winter of 2010 the club became aware of the availability of the adjoining fields to the ground. Borrowing money to purchase some of this land the club began a huge undertaking to extend the playing area of the club by almost 40%. The aim was to have the new land ready for the 2011 season beginning in April. The dedication and back breaking work in the rain and snow by club members saw the existing hedges and fences brought down and new fences erected and hedges planted the borders of the new lands. The club now boasts one of the most unique and picturesque grounds in the South West including a giant oak tree within the playing area.