This Sunday will represent the 90th anniversary of the death of one of the most important people in Worcestershire CCC’s long and proud history.
Paul Henry Foley was responsible for Worcestershire becoming a first class County in 1899 and it is after him that the Foley’s coffee house and eatery – which opened last April – was named.
Andrew Thomas – author of Pears 150 – has written a concise two part appreciation article on Paul Foley for the Worcestershire CCC website (part two will be published tomorrow).
January 21 2018 marks the 90th anniversary of the death of Paul Henry Foley, the person responsible for WCCC becoming a First Class county in 1899.
Paul Foley, rebranded Worcestershire CCC, long before the term was invented and changed the DNA of the county cricket club.
He turned a one-day amateur social XI playing on a poor home ground, into a three-day largely professional squad good enough to finish second in the County Championship after only nine seasons at New Road.
And yet, his plans were as controversial then, as the unfolding T20 revolution is today.
Paul Henry Hoggetts-Foley was born on 19th March 1857, only child of HJW Hodgetts-Foley and Jane FA Vivian, daughter of Lord Vivian.
Paul studied at Eton College, Christ Church Oxford, and qualified as a barrister at The Inner Temple.
In his formative years, Paul lived at his family’s Prestwood estate near Stourbridge. He moved to Stoke Edith after inheriting his great-aunt Emily’s estate in 1900.
Paul Foley did not play cricket to a high standard at Eton or Oxford, but was very well connected in cricketing circles.
Elected a MCC member in 1878, Foley became closely involved with Worcestershire CCC less than 20 years after the present club was formed.
At first he was a player (1878-96), then a young Co-Secretary (1885-87), and later Hon. Secretary, and payer of many inconvenient bills (1892-1908).
These statistics show how dramatically Paul Foley changed Worcestershire in his plan for First Class County Championship cricket.
Between 1865-81, WCCC played 211 matches: 58% (one-day), 41%(two-day) and 1% (three-day).
The three-day games were festival occasions when Worcestershire CCC fielded 22 players against famous touring XIs.
Most teams had only one or two professionals. But between 1882-98, WCCC played 257 matches: 25% (one-day), 74% (two-day), and 1% (three-day).
Foley entrusted JJ Thomasson to organise 160 WCCC Club & Ground games 1892-98, to widen the pool of potential county players.
The 1st XI matches had six or seven professionals and three or four more pro players in the C&G teams.
In 1893, Paul Foley also changed the County XI colours from red and white stripes, to green and black with the Three Pears badge still worn today.
In 1895 he created (and won) the Minor Counties Championship as a vehicle for his young XI; organised a Gentlemen of Worcestershire tour to Holland; proposed the move from Boughton down to New Road and paid for a pavilion to be built there.
In 1898 he signed a 21-year lease for Chapter Meadows with Worcester Cathedral Dean & Chapter and signed Fred Hunt as the new young groundsman and cricketer, (Fred stayed until 1946, and was the only one from those days who lived to see Worcestershire CCC win the County Pennant in 1964 and 1965, and play one day cricket again from 1963).
Foley had a good eye for cricketer and attracted many fine players with competitive wages and work in the off-season.
He employed his County XI skipper, HK Foster, as agent on his estate.
Between 1899-1914, Worcestershire CCC’s young squad played 356 matches; one (one-day), 13% (lasted two days), 87% (three-days).
In three decades Paul H Foley had succeeded in rebranding every aspect of Worcestershire CCC.
*Andrew Thomas’s more detailed appreciation of PHF will be published in the Journal of the Association of Cricket Statisticians and Historians.
*Copies of Pears 150 priced £28 can still be purchased on matchdays from the Worcestershire Supporters’ Association club shop and during the winter by contacting Andrew via sending any correspondence to Blackfinch New Road.