The Jewel in Derbyshire's Crown - A History of Cricket at Queen's Park, Chesterfield

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A new book has been published that tells the definitive story of cricket at Queen's Park in Chesterfield.

Commissioned by the local Chesterfield charity Friends of Queen's Park Cricket, the book is written by David Griffin, who has been Derbyshire County Cricket Club's official photographer for 20 years.

The book charts the story of cricket at Queen's Park right up the annual Chesterfield Cricket Festival.

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The first known cricket match to take place in Derbyshire was staged at Brampton Moor, where Wirksworth beat Sheffield on 1st September 1757.

Derbyshire v Yorkshire in Summer 2023 at the beautiful Queen's Park in ChesterfieldDerbyshire v Yorkshire in Summer 2023 at the beautiful Queen's Park in Chesterfield
Derbyshire v Yorkshire in Summer 2023 at the beautiful Queen's Park in Chesterfield

Eight days later the Derby Mercury reported on the game: “On Thursday last a match at Cricket was played at Brampton Moor near Chesterfield by eleven young men of Wirksworth against the same number from Sheffield for fifty pounds a side.

"At the latter end of the game the Wirksworth players were a considerable number of notches ahead of the others, when following a dispute about one of the Sheffield players being out, some of them desisted playing again, whereby it was then left undetermined, but we hear it has since been given in favour of the Wirksworth players and the money been paid them.

“This match was played with the greatest spirit and activity on both sides which afforded the highest satisfaction to a larger concourse of persons of all ranks than ever were seen in this county on the like occasion.”

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Over 200 years later Harold ‘Dickie’ Bird was umpiring when Derbyshire played the Indians’ touring side at Queen’s Park, Chesterfield in 1990. He later recalled: “I was stood at square leg and Sachin Tendulkar said to me: “Have you ever seen anything nicer?” The flowers were in full bloom, the trees were marvellous, and we looked through to see the crooked spire. It was beautiful.”

The 2023 Chesterfield Cricket Festival at Queen's Park.The 2023 Chesterfield Cricket Festival at Queen's Park.
The 2023 Chesterfield Cricket Festival at Queen's Park.

We will let Geoffrey Boycott do the talking now:

"I could talk forever about Chesterfield because it’s such a pretty ground with a pitch that was always good although early on it could be tricky against the quicker bowlers.

"And if you got out early you could go and feed the ducks in the lake. Delightful. You also knew that you’d get good support when Yorkshire played there because Chesterfield was closer to places like Sheffield than Headingley.

"I also recall my friend Brian Clough coming to see me play against Derbyshire at Chesterfield in 1973. It was a glorious sunny day, perfect for batting and I was looking forward to the game. Alan Ward, who was fast, bowled this short ball and I hit it like a rocket out of the middle straight to Brian Bolus fielding at midwicket.

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"I was mortified. On a perfect day for batting, I was out for four. I saw Brian (Clough) later and told him how disappointed I was. He replied: “Look, I’ve been sat on the balcony with your players and they’re wondering if they’ll ever score one century.

"But even though you failed today, you’ll get a hundred next week, or the week after, because you’re that good.” Cloughie’s words made me feel ten feet tall and it made me realise what qualities he had as a manager.”

David Griffin has written the definitive book about cricket played in Queen’s Park, Chesterfield over the past 125 years. Griffin saw his first Derbyshire game at his home town ground of Ilkeston in August 1974 and has been a member of the club ever since.

A former soldier, and retired police officer, he served on the Derbyshire County Cricket Club committee and board between 1999 and 2014 and has been the club’s official photographer for almost 20 years.

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You can order a copy of the book by contacting the Secretary of Friends of Queen’s Park Cricket by e-mail on [email protected]. The cost is £19.99 plus £5 p&p and all profits go to supporting the future development of cricket for everyone in Chesterfield and the surrounding area.

This year's Chesterfield Cricket Festival starts on Sunday 30th June 2024 with Derbyshire playing Yorkshire in a 4 day game in the County Championship and then the T20 clash between Derbyshire and Yorkshire is on Sunday 7th July. As usual this is likely to be a sell out.