Harpenden Dolphins is a friendly, family cricket club. For many decades, fathers and sons, brothers, neighbours and friends have played together, either on a long-term basis or in making up the numbers on those days when a team has been hard to come by.
Our origins go back to the immediate post-World War II days. In 1944, the Club developed out of the social activities of the High Street Methodist Church, which was looking to broaden the base of its thriving Youth Club. Not surprisingly, therefore, we started life as the Harpenden Methodist Cricket Club, under the patronage of the Reverend Alan Fletcher, who was the Methodist Minister of the day and the Club’s first President. He was assisted in his Presidential duties by W Ewart North, as the Club Chairman, and by an enthusiastic committee who met regularly to conduct Club business in what is described comfortingly in the records as the Church Parlour. Ewart remained as Chairman and later as President until 1983 .. 37 years of devoted service from a man who appears never to have played a single game for the Club. At well over 90 years of age, he still lives in Harpenden and takes an active interest in the affairs of the Club.
Since the earliest of seasons until the present day, the Club has held its home games on the Top Pitch in Rothamstead Park. There are some reports in the 1940s and 50s of home games being played at the Highfield Oval and at what was then the Harpenden Rugby Club, situated on today’s Overstone Road, before it moved to its present home along the Redbourn Road. In the beginning, the Top Pitch in the Park was shared with Ferndale Cricket Club .. later to be amalgamated with Harpenden Cricket Club. And, of course, more recently with Hollybush, Carpenters Arms, Abbey Players and the lower teams of the Harpenden and Wheathampstead clubs. Inevitably, some of our games came to be played on the Lower Pitch but the Top Pitch has always been our spiritual home.
In 1959, the Club broke its final links with the Methodist Church and changed its name to the Harpenden Dolphins. There has been much speculation about the derivation of the new name but the reality is that it was borrowed from the name of the house in Wood End Lane, where lived Bernard Jones, stalwart player, tireless committee member in many roles and, at that time, Captain of the Club.
Watch, sit, chat, drink, picnic, score, umpire, make teas, wash-up, sleep ... over the years, we have enjoyed fantastic support from our families and friends and that is a tradition and ethos which remains today. Dolphins teas have been legendary among our players and our opponents alike .. from the days when they were served commercially at 10d a head by Mrs Rowe, who ran a café in the High Street, to today’s magnificent arrays of sandwiches and sumptuous home-baked cakes.
But none of this friendly, family atmosphere should be taken to imply that the Dolphins did not and still do not take our cricket very seriously indeed. Yes, we want to enjoy our games and encourage our opponents to do the same .. but, at the end of the day, we want to win!!
It is certainly true that, like any single-side club, we have our ups and downs in the quality of the cricket we play. We have been skittled out for 20 [although, fortunately, not recently] and we have successfully chased totals over 250. We have destroyed the opposition for similarly low scores and been beaten by the widest of margins. Like the current England team, we have a lasting reputation of horrendous mid-order collapses but we have also enjoyed our fair share of exciting last wicket stands to deliver an unexpected victory or, perhaps more often, just to save the day.
The Club tried league cricket for a couple of seasons way back in the early 1970s but concluded that it was not for us at that time. The new millenium brought a change of direction and in the 2001 season we joined the Herts League, playing in Division 11. In our first campaign we gained promotion to Division 10 and in 2009 were promoted again to the heady heights of Division 9.