North Oxford Cricket Club was founded in 1900 and moved to the St John’s College ground on Woodstock Road, Oxford in 1902 where it remained until the amalgamation in 1996. For many years it was one of the finest clubs in the county, featuring many famous names from Oxfordshire cricket including Roy Surman, Richard Pineo, Chris Clements, Roger Busby, Andrew Wingfield Digby and Keith Arnold. Like Bicester Town, the club did not start playing league cricket until the 1970s when it joined the Cherwell League, winning the Division 1 title on 6 occasions, as well as the Oxfordshire Cup no fewer than 10 times between 1975 and 1991.
Former Bicester Town 1st XI captain Peter Fenn provides some recollections of cricket at Bicester from the early 1960s to the present day:
‘I came to Bicester in 1961 and started playing for Bicester Town CC whilst still at school. 1st XI captain and vice captain were David Parrott – who played for the county and was on Leicestershire CC’s books – and Peter Capel-Smith respectively, and Club President was Alf Evans, father of Henry, who had the outfitters’ shop in Sheep Street.
Playing on the Bicester Sports Ground was quite an adventure, particularly at the beginning of the season, as the rather small square was sandwiched between the rugby and football pitches and gave our volunteer groundsmen little time to flatten the outfield so that fielders could safely get down to stop a ball hurtling towards them without fear of being damaged!
Before the Sports Club (now used by the Rugby Club) was built in the mid-60s, BTCC cricketers and their visitors changed in a rickety wooden pavilion alongside the “tins” (the metal fence running along the north side of the ground towards the football pavilion); this contained rudimentary home and away dressing rooms and a centre social area with a small bar which was overseen by an up-and-coming all-rounder, Peter Goss, who kept a beady eye on the bar stock as one or two of the home team players would help themselves to cigarettes from time to time and inadvertently forget to leave payment!
In those days BTCC only played friendly matches but turned out two sides on Saturdays and Sundays, with sometimes a special game on August Bank Holiday Monday against touring sides such as the Leicester Pilgrims, Ince Blundell (Liverpool) , Westcliff-on-Sea, Littlehampton and Worcester Park (Surrey), and in 1971 the club celebrated its centenary with a party in the Sports Club. In 1978 the club was one of fourteen which came together to form the Trinity Cricket League; it was 1st XI runners up in this first season, winners the next under captain Rocky Daniel (who also won the batting award in 1978) and 2nd XI winners in 1980. The 1xt XI then had to wait until 1987 before again winning the League and hosting the consequent celebrations in the Sports Club.
1994 saw the merger of the Trinity League with the Cherwell League and the purchase by the Bicester Sports Association of land at Chesterton, part of which was earmarked for cricket, but it wasn’t until 1996 that the club moved into its new premises, having merged with North Oxford CC to become Bicester & North Oxford CC, under skipper and Oxfordshire player David Wise, and running three sides in the competition. Since then the club’s fortunes in the League have fluctuated, with several seasons in the Home Counties Premier League and then running three teams in the Cherwell League, and a Thursday XI organised by stalwart Eric Neale.’