AS WAR raged at home and abroad, in a secluded little corner of Europe, a group of agricultural workers and their respected employer, TH “Tommy” Hobson, decided they fancied a game of cricket.

Could there be anything more English than that?

And so began Woodhouse Grange Cricket Club, who this year celebrated their 75th anniversary.

Three-quarters of a century on, for the final event of Woodhouse Grange’s 2017 season, players and supporters alike gathered at a gala dinner to celebrate a remarkable institution that started life in a farmer’s field near Sutton-upon-Derwent.

From that humblest of beginnings, Woodhouse Grange has since won the York Senior League a post-war record 15 times, the League Cup 10 times, and lifted the National Village Cup on four of their seven visits to Lord's.

They have enjoyed more than 100 cup and league triumphs, while the first XI can count themselves among Yorkshire's top 48 cricket clubs.

Of course, today’s standard of cricket is a far cry from that of those early farm labourers.

With Tommy being one of Yorkshire’s leading amateur cricketers in the 1920s and 30s, it was inevitable that cricket would become a key pastime at Woodhouse, and he soon became the club's driving force, entering the side into the York League in 1952 and captaining it to its first championship successes in 1955 and 1956.

Even before their leading patron and captain, Tommy, Woodhouse Grange had a distinguished ‘pre-history’ as one-time home to the legendary Edrich family – four brothers who all played county cricket, with Bill going on to become an England great.

The Edrichs did not settle in Yorkshire, however, having come from Norfolk, and talked Tommy into taking over their lease.

Tommy clearly felt at home at Woodhouse Grange - his family still farm the surrounding fields, and the current teams contain three fourth-generation Hobsons.

The first sides that initially did so well in the York Senior League were packed with Tommy Hobson’s old cricketing mates – nine of the 1955/56 championship side were aged 50 or over, including vice-captain and ex-Yorkshire fast bowler Charlie Hall. But Tommy quickly realised the need to recruit younger talent, and players soon joined from Pocklington, York and local villages.

One of those, Nigel Fowler, who arrived as a youngster in 1958, is still there, never missing a game.

He takes up the story: “The club had just won the league two years in a row, but it contained only a couple of local youngsters, Alasdair Swann and Tony Jackson. The rest were all over 50, pre-war cricketing friends.

“But Tommy knew youth was the way forward, and quickly made it a real family club. It’s become a great club, in many ways a unique place.

"In my opinion, Woodhouse’s success had been led by three big characters: Tommy – we all called him Mr Hobson, even on the field – followed by Alasdair Swann, who kept it going then took it forward, and, in recent years, Steve Burdett.”

As the club grew, a second XI was formed in 1964, and in the early 1990s, Woodhouse Grange became a successful early promoter of youth cricket when the junior section was launched. Indeed, the majority of today’s first XI have come through the club’s juniors.

The family ethos promoted by the founder is still very much in evidence today. Russ Bilton – who played for the first XI over five decades, taking thousands of wickets with his left-arm spin, and still turns out in the lower sides – married Alasdair Swann’s daughter, and is the father of current leading batsmen and first-team captain and vice-captain, Andrew and Chris.

Asked to name his top three players from those last five decades, Bilton replied: “There have been so many. But Alasdair, such a good wicketkeeper; John Bygate, so prolific a run scorer; Fred Mason, a great bowler; and Steve and Colin Johnson, Steve with his bowling economy and Colin’s batting when he came back from Yorkshire - they were all outstanding.

“More recently, there’s been Stuart Craven and Nick Hadfield at the top of the order. Joel Hughes was pretty quick, and Mike and Steve Burdett have driven us to so much success with their performances and their leadership.”

Woodhouse Grange's status as one of the county's leading village outfits was confirmed when they were promoted into the new Yorkshire Premier League North for its 2016 inaugural season. They finished fifth this year, a more than respectable position up against club heavyweights like York, Harrogate, Scarborough and Yorkshire Academy.

What kind of success comes their way in 2018 and over the next 75 years remains to be seen.