Fuller Pilch 17th March 1804 - 1st May 1870
Fuller Pilch was born in Horningtoft, in Norfolk on March 17th 1804. He was the son of Nathaniel Pilch and Frances Fuller, who were married at Brisley and later returned to live there.
Fuller Pilch followed in the footsteps of his two elder brothers, Nathaniel and William, and became a professional cricketer. His first appearance at Lord’s was a three-day match in July 1820, playing for Norfolk. He then went to Sheffield to play cricket and earn his living as a tailor.
At over six foot he was very tall for the age. His batting was stylish and was characterised by his forward play. His long forward plunge which could crush the best bowling before it had time to shoot, or rise, or do mischief by catches was described as the famous "Pilch Poke".
By 1827 Pilch was in great demand; he played in the England games against Sussex; his first game for the Players against the Gentlemen. In 1828 he played for Leicester against Sheffield twice and again at Sheffield for England; he played at Lord's for the Right-handed v the Left-handed and for England v the B's (Bowyer, Bray, Beagley etc).
Fuller Pilch returned to Norwich around 1829 to manage the Norwich ground and a local pub, on Bracondale Hill. At this time he played for Norfolk against the MCC.
Pilch’s greatest personal triumph came in 1833 when he easily beat the great Northern player, Thomas Marsden, at Norwich and Sheffield in single wicket games played for the championship of England.
On 18th June 1834 he played with his two brothers in a match against Yorkshire at Norwich, which was advertised in the Norfolk Chronicle as “The Great Match of Cricket” and listed the celebrated players “The Three Pilches”, the return match was played in July at Sheffield.
Then in 1835 the 31 year old Pilch left East Anglia, and joined Town Malling (the strongest team in Kent) on a handsome £100 a year retainer to play and manage the ground. He also managed a local tavern to supplement his income and, apart from a short period in Oxford, was to live in Kent for the rest of his life.
Pilch moved to Canterbury in 1842 where he kept the Saracen’s Head. He continued to play for Kent until 1854. He was the first groundsman at the St. Lawrence ground when it opened in 1847 until 1868. He died at Bridge Street, St. George, Canterbury on May 1st 1870.