About the Club
A brief history
FF first took the field on 20 July 1856 when the Rev W.K.R. Bedford raised a side of amateurs to play against the Pilgrims of Dee in the grounds of his rectory in Sutton Coldfield, Warwickshire. The team adopted the title Free Foresters - ‘Foresters’ referring to the nearby forests of Arden in Warwickshire and Needwood in Staffordshire, and ‘Free’ because members would be free to play against the club without permission, rather than being ‘tied’ to FF alone - hence the FF motto United Though Untied.
The club's rise was remarkable. Within five years the FF had defeated the MCC at Lord's and beat the United England XI and the All England XI who were the two leading professional teams of the time.
For many years there was no England side which did not contain at least one Free Forester, and the club was the only wandering side in modern times to play first class cricket – finishing this tradition with a win by 299 runs against Oxford in 1968 - Mike Brearley top scoring for FF with 91 in the second inning in a side captained by Donald Carr.
89 FF members have played for England, 33 as captain! Illustrious past members include Colin Cowdrey, Douglas Jardine - notorious captain in the bodyline series - and Frank Worrell, the first black captain of the West Indies who beat England in devastating fashion in 1963. Since the 1970s, far fewer FF members have played Test Cricket, though good numbers have appeared in county cricket.
The club remains the leading wandering club in the country, with over 70 games a season and a membership of 2,000. Regular matches include Oxford and Cambridge Universities, the Army, Air Force and the Royal Navy. Other recent fixtures have included Ireland, Amateur England, Dutch U23, the Combined Services and John Paul Getty's XI. The club also plays many leading school and club sides and undertakes regular tours to Holland (as it does in 2015 this July) and Ireland, as well to cricket festivals in Philadelphia and Portugal. In January 2007, the club returned from a three-week tour to Australia.
A recent history of the FF, co-written by past-President, Philip Whitcombe and Michael Parsons, commemorates the first 150 years. Philip had the distinction of dismissing Bradman at Lords for 5 on his last tour of England in 1948. Though not a Forester himself, Bradman’s team-mate, the renowned all-rounder Keith Miller was. An earlier history of the club, 'The Annals of the Free Foresters, from 1856 to the present day' was written in 1895 by the founder, The Rev'd W.K.R. Bedford and W.E.W Collins.