We have to go back to the late 1950s to see the beginnings of the Kent County Cricket Supporters Club. In the 1958 Kent Cricket Annual there is a contribution from Godfrey Evans which states that ‘Our Supporters Club in Kent was started last year to raise funds for Kent Cricket’. The article goes on to report the parlous state of the Kent County Cricket Club’s finances and urges members to join the KCCSC to raise funds to support Kent.
1960 saw the significant appointment of Les Ames as KCCSC’s first President, and Fund raising activities were extended further.
In 1977 a meeting of the KCCSC was held on 29 September of that year to discuss a new constitution. At the inaugural meeting of the new KCCSC on 24 March 1977 in the Chiesman Pavilion it was agreed to proceed with the new constitution. The first Committee Meeting was held on 5 April 1977.
The KCCSC Committee pledged support to Kent in their fund raising activities for 1978. It was also agreed that a newsletter/magazine, initially of eight pages, be produced by co-opted member and retired journalist Bill Webb. The first edition was well received and it was agreed that it be produced quarterly in January, April, July and October – free to members, and this still continues today.
Also considered was a Christmas card, KCCSC tie and a marquee with a bar facility for Canterbury Week. By December 1977 the reported membership was 635 and an invitation to become a member of the Federation of County Cricket Supporters Clubs had been received and accepted. This Federation continued for a further 26 years until it folded in 2003.
By 1978 the Committee had organised marquees for Folkestone, Maidstone and Canterbury for the 1978 season. At this time assistance for players with a benefit was provided.
In 1979 the Committee decided to present a Cup to the ‘Young Kent Cricketer of the Year’, which, ‘with Mr Ames permission’ would be termed the Presidents Cup. The first winner of most promising uncapped player of the year was Graham Dilley. The Cup has been presented on this basis ever since.
KCCSC has continued to provide support both to its members and Kent by, for instance, giving financial support to Academy Tours and sponsoring players shirts.
It was decided, in the year 2000, to raise money to support junior cricket in Kent and so the 50/50 Club was established. As a result a sum of over £32,500 has been made available to the Kent Cricket Youth Trust.
It has long been a tradition that the Supporters Club contributes to the Kent Beneficiary of the year. They are now not quite as frequent as they once were, but the last two Darren Stevens and James Tredwell both attended our Festival dinners at Tunbridge Wells and were presented with cheques by Terry Hall the Club Treasurer and Chairman.
A recent donation to the Kent Heritage Trust was made to assist with the purchase of the new glass Display Cabinets that can be seen in the Chieseman Pavilion at the Spitfire Ground St Lawrence Canterbury. The memorabilia that the cricket club has is of keen interest to supporters and visitors alike, and is now shown in a superb display.
In addition the Supporters Club has lately contributed to a fund organised by the Cricket Society to restore the grave of Ivo Bligh in the churchyard at Cobham in Kent. Succeeding his brother Edward as the Earl of Darnley in 1900, Ivo Bligh was a British noble, parliamentarian and cricketer, playing first class cricket for Kent from 1877 - 1883. He was however known most famously for captaining the England and MCC team on the first ever test cricket series against Australia in 1882-83. After an English team led by Albert Hornby lost to the Australians at The Oval in 1882, The Sporting Times newspaper wrote a mock obituary to English cricket, noting that the body would be cremated and the ashes sent to Australia. The following winter's tour to Australia was billed as an attempt to reclaim The Ashes. Bligh's team was successful, winning the three-match Ashes series two-one. A small terracotta urn was presented to The Hon. Ivo Bligh, as England captain, by a group of Melbourne women after England's victory in the Test series.
Very recently the Supporters Club commissioned and financed a Plaque showing all 15 grounds on which the County have played in the County Championship since it’s inception in 1890 up to the present day. The plaque was commissioned from local artist Suzanne Norfolk BA Hons. It forms a memorial to a lifelong member of the Supporters club Alan Wright and can be seen proudly displayed at the St. Lawrence Ground in Canterbury near the Lime Tree Cafe.
A substantial contribution was also recently made towards the new portrait of Frank Woolley which now proudly hangs in the entrance foyer to the Chieseman pavilion. The portrait, again completed by Suzanne Norfolk, was the brainchild of the President of the Club at the time Lady Kingsdown, who realised that there was no portrait of the great Kent cricketer hanging in the pavilion. That oversight has now been corrected.
Today the Committee seeks to meet the KCCSC objectives of providing members with facilities on and off the field, raising funds for its members and cricket generally in Kent and strengthening ties, where possible, between players and grass roots supporters.