The club was officially founded when a gathering of ‘gentlemen of Middlesex’ came together in the London Tavern on 2 February 1864 to formally constitute Middlesex County Cricket Club, and few could have predicted what would follow in the next one hundred and fifty years and beyond.
Instrumental in the formation of the club were the Walker brothers of Southgate, who not only played a pivotal role in Middlesex’s early off-field administration, they also provided some of the most celebrated players in the first two decades of the club’s existence. Middlesex County Cricket Club’s debut on the field came on 6 and 7 June 1864, when Sussex County Cricket Club visited the Cattle Market Ground Islington as the club’s first competitive opponents. Vyell Edward Walker stole the show, taking match figures of 14 for 111 from 75 overs, to get Middlesex off to a winning start by a margin of an innings and 52 runs.
Perhaps Middlesex’s biggest challenge came in 1871, when financial difficulties brought on the threat of dissolution. Staggeringly only thirteen members turned out to vote on the club’s continuation, and by the narrowest of margins, just seven votes to six, Middlesex County Cricket Club got its reprieve and began a new chapter in what was to become a long and successful life ahead.
With several different cricket grounds in London being used as home venues in the first decade of the club’s life, including Lillie Bridge at West Brompton and the Prince’s Cricket Ground in Chelsea, Middlesex had to wait until 1877 before they would eventually find themselves a suitable and permanent home. An agreement was reached with Marylebone Cricket Club, which saw Lord’s Cricket Ground in St John’s Wood, the Home of Cricket, become the new home ground of Middlesex County Cricket Club. In 1893, Middlesex’s Andrew Stoddart had the honour of becoming the first Middlesex player to captain the England Test side, leading his country to Ashes success against the touring Australians that summer.
Middlesex had to wait until the 1903 season before they were to celebrate winning their first piece of silverware, when under the captaincy of Gregor MacGregor, the club suffered just one defeat all season to be crowned County Champions for the first time.
Within that Championship winning side of 1903 was a certain Australian, Albert Edwin Trott, who in July of 1899 wrote himself into the cricketing record books when he became the first and, to this date, the only player to successfully hit a ball clean over the Lord’s Pavilion.
Also playing a crucial role within that Championship winning side of 1903 were John Thomas Hearne, the club’s second highest wicket taker of all time and Bernard Bosanquet, the man credited with inventing a new delivery called the ‘bosie’ , which is today more commonly known as the ‘googly’.
Further success came Middlesex’s way in 1920, when under the brilliant leadership of Pelham Warner the club again lifted the County Championship trophy. The club had the all-round efforts of another Hearne, John William this time, to largely thank for their success, with 1,638 First-class runs in the season at an average of 54.60 and 123 First-class wickets at an average of just 18.21.
The club made it back to back Championship winning campaigns in 1921, as Frank Mann took the helm to lead the side to the title, with the prolific Patsy Hendren topping the batting averages and run scoring list.
The summer of 1947, widely regarded as the best season in the club’s history, saw Walter Robins again lead Middlesex to the County Championship title. Denis Compton, Bill Edrich and Jack Robertson all ran riot with the bat, scoring roughly 2,500 First-class runs apiece for Middlesex and amassing an incredible 34 centuries between them.
Again the club didn’t have long to wait for further success, when in 1949 George Mann led Middlesex to a shared County Championship title with Yorkshire.
In 1971 the club entered the most successful period of its existence to date, when Mike Brearley took over the captaincy of the club and embarked upon a twelve year reign that would see him steer Middlesex to an incredible four County Championship titles and two Gillette Cup successes in 1977 and 1980.
In 1983 the captaincy baton was passed to Mike Gatting, who went on to surpass even Brearley’s achievements, leading the club through a golden era of trophy winning campaigns.
Gatting’s reign saw Middlesex’s dominance last into the mid 1990’s, as the club won three Championship titles, the NatWest Trophy twice in 1984 and 1988, the Benson & Hedges Cup in 1983 and 1986 and the Sunday League in 1992 during his fifteen years at the helm.
With Gatting standing down in 1997, the following decade saw a decline in the club’s fortunes, as silverware evaded them in all forms of the game and the club were relegated to the second tier of the County Championship in 2006.
The club have tasted success more recently however, when in 2008 Ed Smith led Middlesex to the Twenty20 Cup, and under the guidance of Neil Dexter in 2011, the Division Two title was won and Middlesex were promoted back into the top flight of the County Championship.
Intentions for 2012 were for the club to consolidate its position in Division 1, although under the early season stewardship of Neil Dexter and Chris Rogers in the latter part of the year, Middlesex surprised many by finishing 3rd in the league to top off an outstanding return to the top flight.
2013 and 2014 saw the club fail to make any improvement on their finishing position in the league, however in 2015 Adam Voges and James Franklin led the side to a runners up finish to their great credit.
2016 began with a series of drawn encounters with Franklin at the helm, giving little indication as to what would unfold later in the season. It took him 7 matches to lead Middlesex to their first win of the season, which was just the platform the side needed to launch a late season push that saw them climb to the top of the table with 2 games remaining.
A draw away at Old Trafford saw Middlesex head into the final game of the season vying for the title with Somerset and their opponents for the final game of the season, Yorkshire. Victory for Somerset gave them the initiative on the final day of the season, however a brilliant final session of the season saw Middlesex bowl out Yorkshire for 178 to win the game and secure their first County Championship title since Mike Gatting lifted the trophy in 1993.
The celebrations of 2016 were soon forgotten at the end of the 2017 season when Middlesex became one of only a few sides to go from champions to relegated in the course of a season, condemning Middlesex to 2018 in Division 2.