Largo Cricket Club has been active in two distinct phases. It first existed for a few years shortly after the Second World War. Reformed in 1983, the club's second phase continues to the present day. More than seven decades ago, the 12 January 1949 Leven Mail announced that in Largo a "band of enthusiasts" had started a cricket club and had "acquired a suitable field for play near the Church". On 2 February, the same paper told of the club's "first public appearance" when they hosted a whist drive. This event took place on 20 January 1949 in the Simpson Institute and was attended by 130 people. The Club's Honorary Secretary George N. Donaldson presided and Mrs Muriset of the Lundin Links Hotel presented the prizes. Club President, and minister of Largo Parish Church, Reverend C.W. Fraser thanked Mrs Muriset and all those who had helped to make the occasion a success.
The Club's first playing season began on 30 April 1949 with a match against Wemyss and District Cricket Club. The 4 May Leven Mail explained that the Largo club had been established thanks to the efforts of George Donaldson, Reverend Fraser and Mr D.R. Duncan as well as other keen local sportsmen. Donaldson of timber merchant James Donaldson and Sons Ltd came from a family that were keen on cricket, among other sports.
Mr Makgill Crichton had permitted the use of The Paddock, a level piece of ground adjoining Largo House. Throughout the preceding winter, the ground had been intensively prepared. Cutting and rolling had been carried out by a number of willing helpers, a huge tree had been removed and fencing had been installed. The aerial image below shows the site a few years prior to the creation of the cricket field. Once established the ground was described as follows:
"No more beautiful surroundings for village cricket could be found than there at The Paddock. From its elevated position, one looks down on Largo Bay and out past Elie Point to the open Forth, while the large trees of the Avenue and the Park of Largo House provide an ideal setting for the great summer game."
Support among locals for the new venture had been great and a successful season was anticipated. In the first game, two fathers and sons plus the local minister were among the team members - which was seen as a good omen. Indeed, the opening match yielded a clear win for the new club (see full details below).
The first season included a match against R.A.F. Leuchars in August 1949. The same month a fund-raising dance was held in the Simpson Institute (see notice below). On 12 October 1949, the Leven Mail reported on a "successful first season" which had consisted of six wins, eleven losses and eight draws. Leading averages for the season were listed (see below).
The fixtures for the club's second season were listed in the 8 February 1950 Leven Mail (see below). A fund-raiser that year was a Grand Fete at Lundin Links Common followed by another dance at the Simpson Institute (the 19 July 1950 notice from the Leven Mail is further below). At that point, everything seems to have been going well for the fledgling club.
The third season, which began in April 1951, saw a new Honorary Secretary take over. This was Harry Williams of Jesmond House, Upper Largo. Below is a list of the fixtures lined up for that year. Social events that year included a November concert in Simpson Institute and Ne'er Day dance to see in 1952. The year that followed would bring change for the club. Perhaps those involved already had an inkling of what was to come, given that the roof had just been removed from Largo House and the contents of the mansion put up for auction.
The fourth season began positively. On 16 April 1952 the Leven Mail reported on the club's A.G.M. where Reverend Fraser emphasised that "the club was now firmly established and had built up a good reputation, not merely in the district but also among the many clubs they had visited outside the area". Below are more details from that meeting where the officials for the year were elected. A highlight of the season was a friendly match in June 1952 against H.M.S. Largo Bay (an anti-aircraft frigate of the British Royal Navy). At this point the team were still playing at The Paddock.
However, by the end of the 1952 season Largo Cricket Club had (according to the 5 November 1952 Leven Mail) applied to Leven Town Council to use one of the cricket squares at King George V Playfield in Leven. This was granted and the club became Leven-based having lost their ground at The Paddock. Details surrounding the move are unclear, however, it seems likely to be connected to the demise of Largo House and local feeling around that. The move to Leven must have been inconvenient and disappointing for the club. The local press also noted concern around the lack of "stripping accommodation" and facilities to entertain visitors at King George V Park.
So, Largo C.C. began their fifth season, sharing a ground in Leven with Henry Balfour Cricket Club. The season got underway and early matches were played, however, by June it was clear that the club were struggling with their new circumstances. The 1 July Leven Mail noted that "circumstances have compelled Largo C.C. to disband for what it hoped will be a temporary period". It was suggested that any unattached cricketers would be welcomed by Balfour's Club. The situation was confirmed two weeks later when the notice below appeared in the Mail. Sadly, the "temporary period" would last for thirty years but eventually Largo Cricket Club did rise again. More on that in the next post.