Corfu Cricket

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I know absolutely nothing about cricket, but for some reason this story caught my fancy. This is by the way all reinterpretation of various sources, not direct quotes. Enjoy.

Corfu is named for Kerkyra, a nymph who (ahem) attracted the attentions of Zeus. It was much later 'seduced' by the Venetians, the French, the Russians and, finally, the British in 1815. English rule was a prosperous period for Corfu because the Greek language became official, roads and the water supply were improved as well as the founding of the first Greek University in 1824.

Historically cricket appears in Corfu on the 23rd of April 1823 with a game between officers of the British Navy and the Garrison. Only twelve years passed before the locals had learned the game, formed two local sides, and began playing the British. One group consisted of players of minor and medium rank and named 'Small' and the other one was of a higher rank and named 'Large'. The London Times of 14th December 1859 reported that: 'Corfu has this year been visited by an extraordinary number of fashionable tourists – politician, artistic and sporting. The later are the most numerous'.

When the British officially left Corfu in 1864 two local clubs emerged, the Camvissis company and the Gongakis club. In 1893 owing to a lack of players these clubs merged to become the Gymnastikos club, one of the oldest in Greece, when the only opposition was the frequent visiting ships of the Royal Navy.

In 1923 the Ergatikos club was formed and in 1936 it became known as the Byron C.C. in honor of the famous poet. Before the First World War the 1904 season was the busiest, with the Mediterranean fleet of 30 – 40 ships attending the cricket festival and then after for the 1932 season when the Prince of Wales on the battleship Queen Elizabeth and a total of 45 ships were present.

After the World War II cricket survived due to the publicity of the British media (BBC, Daily Telegraph, etc.) with coverage of players and partial coverage of cricket matches. Many British clubs started planning a visit in Corfu then and to this day it is generally considered to be a popular trip for them.

In 1966 BOAC started a leg from London to Corfu and the airline hosted the Greek national team for a week, which was their first overseas trip as a team. After that trip Greek teams started visiting England to play more frequently and from 1987 even single clubs organize frequently tours to England.

In 1976 a third club was formed: Feax C.C. and in 1980 a fourth one resurrecting the name Ergatikos.

The seventies was the period when the structure of cricket in Corfu was changed as it was enrolled in the Greek Federation for Amateur Sport (SEGAS) and under 18s and under 14s sides were made in every club encouraging the perpetuation of the game among youth.

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