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After a long, hard working day, sporting events and activities provided leisure and recreation for people both as participants and spectators. In the latter half of the 19th century, physical recreation became increasingly popular with young people, and the range of sports on offer expanded rapidly, due largely to support and encouragement from churches, chapels, Sunday schools and the YMCA. Sport was seen to have a positive effect on society, instilling a true sense of achievement, discipline and team spirit; whilst sport was occupying people’s leisure time, the working man was thought to be less susceptible to bad influences, such as drinking and gambling. 

The most popular sport was, undoubtedly, football: it was considered ‘the game of the working class’, with cricket, rugby, tennis, golf and hunting mainly enjoyed by the middle classes. By the beginning of the 20th century, however, amateur clubs representing most sports had been founded in towns and villages throughout the country. Local parks offered great opportunities for amateurs, providing large open spaces for football, cricket and rugby, and facilities for tennis, putting and bowls.  

Tickhill folk had a wide and varied range of sports for local people to participate in and enjoy, including football, cricket, hockey, skating, tennis, cycling and hunting. There were several sporting clubs, which played an important social, as well as recreational, part in a villager’s life.  


Football was particularly popular in Tickhill; in the early years of the 20th century the village could boast at least three teams Tickhill Rovers, Tickhill West End and Tickhill Thursday, the latter playing in the ‘Early Closing League’ and taking its name from Thursday, which was half day closing in Tickhill and the day the matches were played. 

The teams appear to have been relatively successful: in 1920 there was great excitement as Tickhill West End overcame Ordsall Athletic to reach the final of the Goodwin Charity Cup to play Ranskill at Retford. Over 2,000 spectators, including several hundred from Tickhill, were entertained by Tickhill Jubilee Brass Band before watching West End beat Ranskill by 3-0 with goals from Burchby and Ellis. Unfortunately Tickhill West End could not repeat their success the following year, and were beaten 2-1 in the semi-finals by Retford Town at Retford. 


Cricket is thought to have been played in Tickhill since 1849, however the first located reference appears a year later in the Doncaster Gazette of September 20, 1850 and refers to a home match against Stone in Staffordshire. It seems there was no organised club, as no further matches were reported until the following year, when a report of a match played against Wadworth on September 23, 1851, described ‘a well contested game’, which Tickhill won by four runs, after which the teams ‘adjourned to Mr Batty’s Fox and Hounds’ at Wadworth; a return match was played at Tickhill on October 11, again Tickhill were the winners by nine wickets. The teams for both matches included William Revill, William White, Thomas Lane, Henry White, Thomas Milnes, William Watkinson, Henry Cooper, John Hickson, Robert Outram, Francis Jenkinson, John Ainley and John Jackson. 

Despite this success, it was to be almost another ten years before a cricket club was established in the village.  Tickhill and District Cricket Club was formed c1860 by the vicar of Tickhill, the Rev. Canon Charles Bury; he was a great cricketer and had played for Cambridge University and Nottinghamshire County; amongst others he was joined by local players William Hancock, Edward Clarkson, Edward Smith and Walter Jarvis. From 1893, the Tickhill born Archibald White (later Sir) and his brothers became associated with the club and raised the standard of cricket played: by the early 1900s four or five members had regularly captained public school Xls and improvements to the ground and the construction of a pavilion made Tickhill’s ground one of the best in the district. The Club played in the ‘Ordinary League’; at the beginning of the 20th century local gentry, George H Shakerley of St Leonard’s and Edward W Leather of The Friary, played alongside Archibald White and his brothers William, John and Charles.  

Sir Archibald Woollaston White was a first class cricketer who captained Yorkshire County Cricket Club from 1911 to 1914, leading the team to victory in the County Championship in 1912. A stalwart supporter of Tickhill Cricket Club for over 40 years both as player and President, he was the eldest son of Thomas Knight Hamilton Ramsay White of Leahurst on Sunderland Street, and was educated at Wellington Collge and Trinity College, Cambridge, where he, no doubt, indulged his passion for cricket; he succeeeded to the baronetcy on the death of his uncle in 1907 and subsequently lived at the family seat - Wallingwells Hall, near Worksop. 

In 1912 he was responsible for arranging a match between Tickhill and District XI and Yorkshire County Xl, which was won decisively by Yorkshire -253 runs to 106. Following the match Sir Archibald entertained both teams to dinner at The Millstone, where he was presented with a silver salver by Yorkshire veteran, George Hirst as a token of the Club’s appreciation of his captaincy in winning the County Championship. 

 Despite the result, the match was regarded as a huge success and had generated funds to engage a professional groundsman and coach; the standard of cricket improved, young players were encouraged and a second Xl was formed. Tennis and bowls clubs were established and the social side of the Club developed. However, by the end of the First World War, Club property was in need of repair, subscriptions were not enough to cover the cost and fund raising events, such as whist drives and a bazaar and garden fete at The Friary in 1920, were held regularly. 

After the war, cricket started to lose its elitism and local businessmen, such as Thomas Lane, Herbert Jarvis, Walter Malin Jarvis, Stanley Lane, Norman Fullwood, and Frank Higgins, landlord of the Red Lion were elected Club officials alongside the Patron, the Earl of Scarbrough and other notable gentry including Lt-Col. C R White, Henry Atkinson-Clark of Tickhill Castle, Major Barlow-Massicks of The Friary, the Rev. Horatio Booty and Dr Thomas Caley. 

Tickhill played in the Doncaster & District Cricket League: in 1926 they were 1st Division champions, after a change in fortunes, they became 3rd Division champions in 1937 and by the end of the war they were top of the 2nd Division. 


Hunting had been popular in the Tickhill area since the mid-19th century; in the early 20th century, the Grove Hunt met regularly in the village during the hunting season from November to April.   

The Grove Hunt territory covered a large area of Nottinghamshire, Yorkshire and Derbyshire, and in 1860 a section of this territory, east and south of the Rivers Rother and Don, was loaned, with defined boundaries, to the 6th Earl Fitzwilliam: this arrangement continued until1929. In 1907, Viscount Galway resigned as Master of the Hunt and Earl Fitzwilliam bought the entire Grove pack of hounds.  

Earl Fitzwilliam’s Grove Hunt met weekly, hunting on four consecutive days - each day in a different part of the designated territory. The Market Place was a popular spot for the huntsmen and hounds to assemble; it was from there that they set off on March 4th 1921 for Stainton Wood, following a trail through Wilsic and Maltby Wood to Sandbeck: the Doncaster Chronicle described it as ‘a disappointing day’. 

Earlier in the year, the Grove had met at Sandrock; the Doncaster Chronicle reported that Mr & Mrs Brooksbank gave a hearty welcome to all including the joint-master and several members of the Badsworth Hunt who had joined them for the day. It continued, ‘Mr Brooksbank’s covert proved bare and they moved on to Bolt Wood, Styrrup Holt, Swinnow Hill, new Harworth village, by early afternoon fog and rain were beginning to fall and hunting was abandoned for the day’. 

Hunting was associated with the local gentry, and ‘the meet’ always generated much interest, people would gather to watch the huntsmen on horseback in their bright red jackets with the foxhounds sniffing around eager to be off!  


Cycling was originally a social pursuit rather than a competitive sport. The first clubs date from the 1870s, and in 1878, the Cyclists’ Touring Club was formed. The Club had an arrangement with certain inns and public houses throughout the country, where club cyclists were welcome to stop for refreshments; in Tickhill, the Three Crowns was one of these establishments, which were easily identified by the Cyclist Touring Club badge displayed outside.  

The sport was also popular with women, and the early years of the 20th century saw the emergence of many clubs. In May 1934, a new cycling club was formed for Tickhill and District by Mr F White of Tickhill and Mr N Dutton of Rossington; fourteen members participated in the inaugural run to the Dukeries stopping for dinner at Cuckney and tea at Edwinstowe. One hundred mile round trips were quite common and the club’s next outing was planned for Whitsuntide, the destination - Cleethorpes. 

Other Sports

In the winter months, the frozen fish pond was a popular venue for skaters, particularly children, who would enjoy the fun and thrills of the ice wearing only ordinary boots or shoes; adults took the sport more seriously with many wearing skates. The ice was also popular for ice hockey, whilst not mustering a full team of eleven, men could be seen with hockey sticks knocking a ball around on the ice.  

Traditional hockey was played on Friary Fields in the early 20th century, however although the local papers reported regularly on hockey matches, no references to a Tickhill team have been located and it may not, therefore, have been played competitively; it was, however, popular with both men and women.


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