It seems that 1888 saw the first properly organised cricket at Rydal Mount and success came quite soon thereafter. In 1891, the Cricket XI was unbeaten in ten matches and another unbeaten season followed in 1901. In 1906, the Top Field Pavilion was opened and in 1915, Coupe and Moulsdale had a record partnership of 258 in a match v Epworth College where the school won with a score of 258 for 0.
Cricket at Rydal was greatly helped by, in 1923, the acquisition of New Field. The field was leveled by teams of staff and pupils in 1923-24 and was quickly established as a cricket ground of the highest quality with an excellent wicket and outfield, combined with a beautiful location. (some photos of this work are on display in the pavilion today). The second event of 1923 which proved very beneficial to Rydal cricket was the arrival of Donald Boumphrey, a gifted and inspiring coach of both cricket and rugby, who devoted himself to the school for over forty years.
Between 1927-35, ten Old Rydalians went on to play County Cricket: HRW Butterworth, A Ratcliffe, W Wooler, R Wooler, DL Hughes, JG Costain, G Elson, J Lewis, TC Lunt and GE Hartley; others also attained vey high standards: JK Bibby, JA Bills, KP Griffiths, J Marsden, AE Underwood, EN Kay, AS Wigfield and JW Moorby, to name but a few.
This group of men formed the early core of the Rydal Dolphins’ cricket side that started in 1927. The Dolphins’ team, which replaced the Masters’ team, comprised staff, pupils and former pupils and reflected the new lease of life cricket was experiencing in the school at the time. The first Dolphins’ match was against Colwyn Bay in 1927, which was the ‘first real season’ for cricket on New Field.
The Dolphins first tour was to Liverpool in 1927. Between 1931-38, the Rydal Dolphins enjoyed an annual tour in the South of England playing sides in Kent and Sussex, including Sussex 2nd XI, Gravesend, Eastbourne and Hastings; in the three years 1932-35 they were unbeaten. After the War, there was a tour to Yorkshire in 1945 and one to Kent in 1946. From 1948-59, the Dolphins toured counties in South West England including Worcester, Gloucester, Somerset and Devon. Then in 1962, two years after a tour in Scotland, the players decided they were missing out on their beginnings and decision was made to arrange a series of games at new Field for up to two weeks at the beginning of the summer holiday… and there it has stayed. Traditional opponents have included Nantwich, Cheshire Wayfarers, Bury, Shrewsbury Saracens and Colwyn Bay.
In the last 48 years, there have been changes in the personnel and the programme of matches but the essence of the Rydal Dolphins has stayed. It is gratifying to see today loyal support for the Dolphins on behalf of the school players, Old Boys and Common Room for what has been, and still is, a ‘great cricketing institution’.