Ellon Probus Club members were entertained to a fascinating account of the history of cricket in the North-east by Howard Smith, honorary president of Aberdeenshire Cricket Club and former county player for many years.
Howard recounted how the sport was introduced to the area in the mid-1800s by English-based excisemen employed at local distilleries and papermills.
Culter, Mugiemoss, Stoneywood and Glenlivet are typical examples of cricket clubs at that time. The game was taken up by schools, the privately-run Chanonry School in Aberdeen being a leader in the field and produced many top quality players.
Cricket rapidly became established and by 1900 had spread widely throughout the area with teams being set up in practically every village. Cricket was recorded in Ellon in 1862. Many village clubs continue to this day.
Initially it tended to be played within the grounds of the local “Big Hoose” but clubs gradually acquired their own grounds. Rules and etiquette were introduced.
Leagues were introduced and the senior teams took to wearing whites (slacks and shirts), often accompanied by garishly striped blazers. Aberdeenshire acquired its own ground at Mannofield and adopted (and still retains) the colours of top English club Yorkshire.
Aberdeenshire had its ups and downs and its survival was due to the dedication and enthusiasm of certain individuals such as James Forbes Lumsden and Schofield Haigh. Proof of the popularity and success of cricket in the North-east was demonstrated in 1902 when Aberdeenshire played the international South African touring team at Aboyne.