1846-1864 "Cricket and other manly sports in the Park"
The opening of Brocklesby railway station in 1848 greatly increased the ease of travel and gave the people of the area the prospect of being able to journey outside their immediate surroundings for a day's cricket. The very idea that such a location would be convenient for people from as far away as Boston, as claimed in 1853, would've been absurd without the railways.
The earliest cricket at Brocklesby seems to have been played at a ground near the station owned by Thomas Marris of Ulceby Chase. The ground was used for various matches as well as the earliest Brocklesby Cricket Club. This club seems to have died out after a few years, though connected to the present club through Thomas' sons and his grandson, Lieutenant Horace Frost Marris MC, who played a good deal of cricket in the years leading up to WWI.
The earliest mention of cricket in the area does not involve a local side at all, in 1846 Limber seems to be a convenient halfway house to organise a one-off match between Hull and Caistor. (Stamford Mercury, 11/09/1846)
In 1847 Limber hosted a match between Brigg and Grimsby. The newspaper says that Brigg have challenged again so the location of the any previous contests needs to be resolved. (Lincolnshire Chronicle, 08/10/1847)
Moving forward two years to 1849, the friends of the "Penitent Females' Home" in Lincoln visit Brocklesby by rail with a chance to see "cricket and other manly sports ... in the park". (Lincolnshire Chronicle, 13/07/1849) The founder of the home was Reverend Edmund Larken, a keen cricket enthusiast and inaugural secretary of Burton by Lincoln cricket club in 1848.
The match was played on the 6th August between Caistor and Lindum "in the Park at Brocklesby". 32 wickets fell for 99 runs in a Caistor victory suggesting that the pitch was not quite a batting paradise. (Stamford Mercury, 10/08/1849)
On the 11th August a fixture between the junior and senior sides of Caistor Victoria Cricket club in Brocklesby Park. (Stamford Mercury, 15/08/1851) Is this related to the events of 1849 and an annual event in the park?
30th June, Broklesby [sic] v. St. George's, Hull, on the ground near Brocklesby station. A comfortable victory for the home team by 63 runs and the promise of a return match in Hull. Brocklesby Park against St Georges (Hull) at Brocklesby Railway Station on 30/06/1852
27th July, Brocklesby against Brigg at the same ground. An inning victory for Brocklesby, though Brigg beat them the previous year. Unfortunately a report of the 1851 match has not turned up yet. Brocklesby Park against Brigg Town at Brocklesby Railway Station on 27/08/1852
Spring. Several gentlemen in the neighbourhood make arrangements for weekly play and select Brocklesby railway station as being convenient for parties living at Grimsby, Louth, Alford and Boston, Caistor, Brigg, Barton, Gainsborough, Market Rasen and Lincoln. (Lincolnshire Chronicle, 09/09/1853) The railway network in the area sprung up in 1848/9 and all these places had stations with connections to Brocklesby. The poor folk of Horncastle having to fend for themselves until 1855, presumably.
The secretary was Mr. Turner of Ulceby and Brocklesby Cricket club soon had fifty members! Mr. Turner wasn't particularly quick off the mark arranging fixtures and they didn't play until 31st August. They lost against a selected eleven from Hull who "had it all their own way" as "The bowling of the Brocklesby club was of the most wretched character". They enjoyed it enough to arrange a return fixture for the 14th September.
7th September Brocklesby played against Caistor and lost again Brocklesby Park against Caistor at Brocklesby Railway Station on 07/09/1853
All quiet on the Brocklesby front, but Grimsby play eleven of Hull and New Holland in a field owned by Mr. Marris near Brocklesby station. (Lincolnshire Chronicle, 31/07/1857)