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London County were formed in 1899 by the owners of the Crystal Palace who wanted to bring first-class cricket to their south London complex. They had already achieved a coup by getting WG Grace to agree to manage the club, and backed by his name and extensive ground improvements, London County was granted first-class status in 1900. While the club played high-profile matches against tourists, counties and universities, it also ran other sides and at its peak played almost 100 matches in a season. The aim of the club was to encourage and develop the best young talent in the country.

But the public never really warmed to the venture. While major games drew large crowds, the lack of meaning resulting from London County not being part of the Championship meant that attendances were only ever mediocre and the finances always stretched. By 1904, Grace and Billy Murdoch, the two big-name attractions, were getting old and money was increasingly tight. Unable to meet the MCC's stipulation that London County played a certain number of first-class matches each year, their status was withdrawn, and without the lure of first-class cricket, it became even harder to attract new players. Grace is reported to have tried to get London County admitted to the Minor Counties Championship, but that too ended in failure. London County continued as a club side until 1908 when the parent company, itself in financial trouble, closed the ground.

The club was re-formed in 2004.
Martin Williamson

  • Read Cricket At The Crystal Palace for a history of London County