IN terms of local sporting novelties, little if anything could surpass a match at the Antelope Ground, the first home of Hampshire County Cricket Club, on September 22, 1863.

The town's principal meat purveyors challenged each other to a game which on a glorious early autumnal afternoon attracted a lively attendance, no doubt in part intrigued by a sport burgeoning in popularity.

It was simply billed Beef v Pork - and befitting the occasion the man of the match was called Butcher!

As the scoreboard reflected, it featured more fun than ability, with bowlers considerably better than batsmen of whom only three reached double figures.

Beef elected to bat and apart from the opener F Butcher saw wickets fall at regular intervals.

The Hampshire Independent reported: "Butcher, by trade and name, resisted for a long time most successfully the attacks of Pork to lower his wicket but this was at length accomplished, and with what lots of dodging and jumping about, and sundry mishaps and hairbreath escapes, a score of 50 was run up."

Pork fared worse, their top batsman J Hawkins making just nine as they accumulated a paltry 38.

Once again, Butcher excelled in their second innings, carrying his bat in scoring 40 of their 60 runs.

That left Pork a target of 72 to win which the weekly said: "They set about the task in good earnest while Beef seemed somewhat fatigued with the exertions of the day!"

Hawkins once more set the example and with 33 runs seemed to set Pork up for victory until a young Beef called Powell took crucial wickets.

"Though Pitman did his best to escape from his pursuers, he was eventually captured while his companions, evidently deeply feeling his misfortune in being run out, made but little resistance to the onslaught so that Pork in the end was beaten with eight runs to spare."

But the mortification of defeat was soon forgotten in dinner but whether the losers provided the meal is unknown.

Cricket's increasing popularity was reflected in a match a month earlier when the Gentlemen of Hampshire took on the United All England Eleven at the same ground

and were allowed to field 22 players!

However the opposition contained the formidable Billy Caffyn and George Tarrant.

Caffyn was a genuine all rounder who took 602 wickets and scored 5,885 runs in his career, mostly with Surrey. While teaching at Winchester College, he gave a novel twist to the expression of a one sided match.

He took on a whole team from the city by himself and beat them, scoring 36 runs in his two innings and bowling the opposition out for just four and four!

Tarrant played 71 first class matches as a professional and was a member of the All England Eleven who sailed on the SS Great Britain on their historic tour of Australia and New Zealand the following winter. No mug as a batsman, he was principally a fast bowler, once rated the second fastest of his time, using a right arm action from what was described as "a long lively run up."

The Gentlemen, as usual scorned the Independent, lost the toss but All England soon lost two wickets which brought Tarrant to the crease. He took the bowling comfortably in his stride until he was surprisingly out leg before wicket for just nine, leading to a collapse that saw them dismissed for a mere 52 runs.

With a series of contributions, the Gentlemen built up a useful first innings lead with a total of 217.

Tarrant was again swiftly removed in the second innings but Caffyn demonstrated his outstanding ability with a half century before he was unfortunately run out in a mix up with the other batsman.

Eventually the Gentlemen needed only 68 to win, the task principally accomplished by George Ede, later to play for Hampshire, who appropriately scored the winning run in making an undefeated 23.