Carlton: The Early Years

Carlton’s historian DR NL Stevenson, in his history of the club published in 1945, described the first three years of Carlton’s cricketing history – from the club’s inception in 1863 to their move to Grange Loan in 1866.

“In the early ‘60s it was the general practice in Scotland for cricket matches to begin at noon and, irrespective of both innings, play was continued till the hour agreed upon for the drawing of stumps.

Scores, on the whole, were small in club games and two-innings matches were frequently completed. A team, 60 runs of more behind on the first innings, had to follow on; but only one innings by each side was needed for a definite result.

On many grounds every hit was run out. On others a boundary counted as “3 notches”, while for a hit out of the ground the batsman was credited with either 4 runs or 5. Six runs for such hits were introduced much later.

In Edinburgh and district, at that time, there were two categories of cricket club. The upper category included the Grange, founded in 1832 and then in the “wilderness” between their tenure of Grove Street Ground and Raeburn Place, which was opened in 1872. The second grade embraced a host of Meadows and Stockbridge Park clubs [including] Carlton – the only club of them all which has survived!

The earliest picture of a Carlton side - the class of 1877

For two seasons, when the Club’s colours were “blue with white 6-inch hoops”, Carlton played almost all their matches on the Meadows. Against opponents in the matches played on the Meadows and at Stockbridge Park, the Carlton players were almost invariably successful, and this reason, with probably the additional fact that they were the only Meadows team to turn out in white flannels, led to their securing fixtures in 1865 with clubs in possession of private grounds.”

Possibly the earliest ever Carlton match report. From The Scotsman in 1864.

Stevenson found that the first internal record of the club’s early days came in verse form, celebrating the success of 1865. Although not in the Fantasy Bob class of poetry, it stands as an interesting record of a time long gone:

“To celebrate another year, the Carlton meet once more
With bright and happy memories of 1864.
We’ve been as busy all the year as bees within a hive,
And we’ve thrashed the best of cricket clubs in 1865"

By 1866 Carlton were playing “away” games only, and the Club considered it had reached a point that justified the securing of a private ground..

But the move to Grange Loan is another story for another day...

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