History Of The Club

By the 1880s there were well over 100 cricket clubs in Perthshire. In Highland Perthshire alone there were fifteen. Today only one remains. Breadalbane Cricket Club, was formed in 1869 with the support of Lord Breadalbane, the local landowner and friend of Queen Victoria. He gifted the club a patch of land nestled next to the river in Aberfeldy, where the football pitch and golf course now stand. The wicket may have been rough and the facilities sparse by modern standards, but the club thrived, entering and winning the first Perthshire league, beating larger and more glamorous opponents, and even boasting first class players among their ranks.

Following a hiatus for the Great War, the local council decided to evict the club from their spiritual home in 1919, after half a century, to enable the construction of a new football pitch and extension to the golf course. Luckily, a new home was found in Victoria Park, although the postwar years would prove to be much harder for the club. A poor pitch, lack of players and the growth of football meant the interwar years would see the club reduced to playing friendly matches only. Those years did produce one young player, however, Peter ‘Percy’ Jackson, who would take more than 1,000 first class wickets for Worcestershire – including that of the greatest batter of all time, Sir Donald Bradman. Bradman would even single out Jackson in his famous autobiography ‘Farewell to Cricket’.

Following the Second World War, in which several Breadalbane players served, the club once again arranged a healthy fixture list. One of Scotland’s best batters of the pre-war era, Walter Yellowlees, now an honoured war hero, joined the club and would become a stalwart for the next three decades. Unfortunately, numbers and enthusiasm waned as other sports gradually took their grip on Scottish hearts and minds, until the club found themselves unable to fulfil their fixture list for the 1964 season.

Breadalbane would not play again for a decade, until the arrival of Dr Tony Pitchforth to the area in 1974, heralded a new era for the club. Thanks to his enthusiasm, the club was rejuvenated. During the fifty years since then the team has grown from a friendly playing side into a competitive league club once more, entering several cup competitions, winning the Perthshire Cup in 2007 and 2008 and gaining promotion to the Premier League.

Even a disastrous relegation, and the destruction by vandalism of the old wooden pavilion in 2012, failed to dampen the club’s desire.

After celebrating their 150th anniversary in 2019, the club continues to play in Division One of the Strathmore Cricket Union and is undergoing an ambitious ground development programme, hoping to ensure that cricket can contain to thrive for at least another century in Highland Perthshire.

If you would like to read more about the remarkable history of Breadalbane Cricket Club, Surviving In The Shadows offers, perhaps, the most comprehensive study of a small, rural cricket club ever written. Taking more than five years to research and compile, this book has uncovered the club’s surprising connections to some of the most important names in Victorian high society, first class and international cricketers, the origins of test cricket, together with startling stories of heroism, death, arson, politics, villains and vegetables - all set amongst the mud, rain, and occasional glorious sunshine of one of Britain’s most picturesque cricket grounds.

Surviving In The Shadows is available from the Watermill Bookshop in Aberfeldy or via the author’s website – www.markbridgemanauthor.co.uk