19/1, Gurusaday Road, Kolkata - 700019 , Opposite Haldiram
Calcutta Cricket & Football Club, founded in 1792, is one of the oldest sports clubs in the world. The most famous of all sports clubs - the Marylebone Cricket Club - was founded in 1787, a fact gathered from a poster for a cricket match in 1837 announcing the Club's golden jubilee. If there was any written evidence of its official launch in 1787, it was destroyed by a fire at Lord's in 1825.
The present day Calcutta Cricket & Football has absorbed several sporting clubs over the centuries. Calcutta Cricket Club of 1792 vintage, Ballygunge Cricket Club (1864-1950), Calcutta Football Club (1872-1877) and the revived Calcutta Football Club set up in 1884. It is important to remember that these were not separate clubs but very much a part and parcel of the great and historic institution known today as Calcutta Cricket & Football Club.
By the early 1950s, the Calcutta Cricket Club's new home at Ballygunj had began to assume the appearance we know today. An elegant, modern pavilion, complete with spacious changing rooms and a stylish new bar was erected. New tennis courts were laid out on nearby reclaimed ground and a well surfaced car park was provided. There was sorrow when the picturesque old thatched shamianas were brought down to make place for a play ground for children, but members found that the convivial atmosphere they were used to was fully preserved.
And, by bringing football, rugby and hockey to supplement the cricket and tennis already played at Ballygunj, CC&FC became a place offering members recreation for all seasons and in retrospect, this feature paved the way towards its current success as a social club. Other activities too, were added including the revival of Cycle Polo, a swank outdoor swimming pool was opened in 1997 and a gymnasium in 2001. Darts, table tennis and pool are among the popular indoor sports played at CC&FC. And played seriously too. CC&FC have been champions at the Inter Club Darts Championship organized by the West Bengal Darts Association.
CC&FC probably pioneered the concept of 'instant cricket'. In December, 1962 over a decade before Kerry Packer entered the scene old timer Neil Gray reminisces that perhaps it was members dissatisfaction with the 'inadequate three hour Saturday afternoon cricket game' that lead to this experiment. A 5 match CCC vs Merchant's XI series was played that season with 20 overs allowed for each side!
In the early 1970s CC&FC was able to fulfil a long cherished dream and complete an upper floor. The highlight of the first floor is the Centenary Hall commemorating the centenary, celebrated in 1972, of the original Calcutta Football Club. This hall is the Club's own air-conditioned 'Long Room' replete with a sporting library ( where Wisden Year Books datelined in the 19th. century find pride of place) and a mini museum of Club memorabilia. Various cups and trophies are on display and a collage of old photographs, some quite rare, adorn the walls. The Centenary Hall is much in demand amongst members for parties and functions. The adjoining balcony provides a superb view of the playing ground.
The CC&FC sports calendar is indeed a busy one. Various Merchant's Cup tournaments form a very important part of the calendar. The first Merchant's Cup tournament was Cycle Polo, played way back in 1973. This gave the lead for the beginning of the first Merchant's Soccer tournament in 1974. Rules for a 5 man team game were framed and in the first year 20 teams participated. The tournament played under floodlights now and at the last count 64 teams participated. Merchant's Cricket and Hockey are also played with equal vigour and enthusiasm.
The monsoon months are taken up by rugby. As mentioned earlier the Calcutta Cup has been going on uninterrupted since 1890. The All India Rugby Tournament Cup is also played every year and every alternate year the All India & South East Asia Tournament is played.
Sports apart, CC&FC offers members a wide and round the year convivial events, catering to variety of interests covering all age groups. The Merchant's Cup Nites at the end of every Merchant's Cup tournaments and the New Year's Eve dinner-dance are greatly sought after occasions in the city's social calendar. And with the year long Bar Nites on Fridays and other social functions on music, dance and theatre CC&FC is probably the most happening place in town!
A sports club that has remained in existence for over 210 years must have good roots and must have served a good purpose not just for its members but also for the games they play and other activities. Time has moved on and today the Club has come a long way. But one lasting value is still the same: its mission to bring people together and play sports for the sheer fun of the game and no more.
The membership profile too has not changed very greatly. From being a Club of sportsmen it is a Club of sportsmen & women and sports minded people. Today CC&FC is more than just a sporting club. It is unique because for over 210 years it has taught and inspired generation after generation to play the game like gentlemen.