100 YEARS OF STANMORE CRICKET 1853: The Story begins at a Court Leet
ALTHOUGH it is in this Coronation Year l953 that the Stanmore Cricket Club is officially celebrating its Centenary, it is known without doubt that it has been in existence since about the beginning of the last century, and in a11 probability cricket had been played on the ground for some time before then. However, the earliest document relating to the Club’s activities which is known to be authentic, bears the date of February 1853, and it is on this document that the Club’s Centenary celebrations are based.
On the 7th February, 1853, a general Court Leet of the Manor of Stanmore was held at the Abercorn Arms. This was presided over by John Froggatt, the Steward of the Manor, who was assisted by a duly sworn jury of twelve men, headed by a foreman. A Court Leet, as some readers may know, was the Court or Parliament of the Manor, at which the manorial matters were dealt with by or on behalf of the Lord of the Manor and those residing within its bounds, and this particular Court is of some historical interest, apart from its importance to the Stanmore Cricket Club, in that it is believed to be the 1ast Court of its kind held in the county of Middlesex.
The jurors on this occasion were all prominent men in Stanmore village. According to the record of the proceedings, which is contained in the original document (a most treasured possession of the Stanmore Cricket Club to this day), and of which a photographic reproduction appears on the opposite page, the jurors declared upon their oath that " having viewed a piece of land part of the waste of this Manor being on Stanmore Common, it would be of no detriment to either the Lord of the Manor or his tenants for the land to be granted to William Smith Tootell for the purpose of being conveyed by him to Trustees for a Cricket Ground for the use and benefit of parishioners of Great Stanmore." The document goes on to record that "at this Court the Lord of the said Manor of his special grace and favour did in open Court give and grant seisin by the rod according to the customs of this Manor unto the said William Smith Tootell." This was clearly an important moment as far as the history of the Stanmore Cricket Club is concerned, for, by this grant, land which had formerly been common land was given to it by the then Lord of the Manor, James, Marquis of Abercorn, for its use in perpetuity.
Legal formalities then made it necessary for a conveyance of the land by William Tootell to the Trustees who were appointed by the Cricket Club to receive the land on its behalf. These Trustees were eight in number, and it is a significant fact that several of them had served on the jury of the Court Leet! Their names (set out in the original document, which is also still preserved by the Cricket Club) are given below, and it is interesting to note that some of them are still we11-known names in the village. They were: –
W. S. Tootell (Gentleman), William Dracott (Butcher), G. H. Hooper (Esquire), J. Hargood (Tailor), Francis King (Veterinary Surgeon), Hall Plumer (Esquire), Silvester Tomlins (Farmer), John Wilson (Builder).
It is perhaps a pity that the village blacksmith is not reported as having been an original Trustee. This would have been the crowning touch in this picture of a typical village cricket club of the period, for its members no doubt represented a cross-section of life in the village, which, although only fifteen miles from London, was in those days far removed from the sophisticated life of the metropolis. The Deed referred to conveyed all rights and advantages of the land shown on the plan to the Trustees for the sole use of the Club and forbade the further grazing of cattle on the ground. The Club in those days accordingly began to flourish considerably.
Early Players and Personalities
Apart from the various villagers and tradesmen who took part in the games, most of the gentry (as they were then called) who occupied the bigger houses in the district did their best to further the Club’s activities. Mr. Charles Keyser, who had come to live at Warren House in 1851, was a keen supporter throughout most of his life unti1 he died at Warren House in 1892, when he was buried in Stanmore Churchyard. His son, Charles Edward Keyser, who later became a J.P. for Hertfordshire and lived at Merry Hill House, Bushey, before moving to Aldermaston, in Berkshire, was a prominent member of the Stanmore Club in the 1870’s. Another leading member was Edward Woodman, who founded the corn chandler’s business, at the foot of Stanmore Hill, which still bears his name. It is reported of Charles Keyser, senior, that he always employed four or more gardeners at Warren House, and that it was a prerequisite for obtaining employment with him in this capacity that the candidate’s cricket must approach a professional standard! Indeed, it was suggested at the time that a rea11y top-class cricketer might be engaged although his knowledge of gardening was extremely small!
Edward Woodman had five sons, all of whom played for the Stanmore Club about sixty years ago. These sons were known as William Vere, Roland, George, Edward and S. J. Of these, Roland and S. J. Woodman are still living, and Vere Woodman, a grandson of William Vere, played for the Club in the I920 s in sides which contained some of the present playing members. This in itself constitutes a remark- able history of continuity in the life of the cricket club and its association with the village.
In December 1876 it was realized that only two of the origina1 Trustees to whom the Cricket Ground had been conveyed were still living, namely, Hall Plumer and John Wilson. New Trustees were accordingly appointed, and once again these gentlemen were all intimately connected with the life of the village. They were George Brightwen (Esquire), Thomas Meadows Clutterbuck (of the Brewery), George Dracott (of the Butcher’s business, still bearing his name, on Stanmore Hill), William Dallas Ochterlong Grieg, Charles Drury, Edward Fortnum, Charles Edward Keyser, William Arthur Tootell, William Wilson and Edward Woodman. During the 1890’s the Captain of the Club was Gibbons Grinling, a member of a family well known in Stanmore at that time and to this day. Other prominent members during the years between 1880 and I900 were John Kell, J. Ridout, C. Chappell (who was the then landlord of the Vine Inn, which stands close to the ground, and was for many years the Club’s headquarters), R. Darnley (the village chemist), Walter Veal (a subsequent landlord of the Vine Inn) and his son J. Veal, and Harvey Barnett, who, in addition to being an eager fieldsman and a forcing bat, gained the reputation of being the village comedian. How little the make-up of the village side has changed over the years!
The Club was fortunate in having its activities directed during a considerable period of years from 1890 onwards by a splendid President in the Rev. F. C. Jackson, MA In fact, from 1890 up to the outbreak of the 1914-18 war only two Presidents held office, namely, the successive Rectors of Stanmore. These were Mr. Jackson and the Rev. S. F. L. Bernays, MA, and the Club owes a very great deal to the work put in by these gentlemen.
Although its forces were depleted during the Boer War by the 1oss of a number of players to the Colors, cricket was continued on the ground with little break. Records are still held of a Costume Cricket Match staged by the Club to celebrate the relief of Mafeking, and to raise money in support of Col. Gilder’s Fund for the Widows and Orphans of Soldiers and Sailors engaged in the War. A large crowd collected on the ground to watch the proceedings, whilst the Harrow Town Band "rendered selections" in front of the Pavilion. The team taking part is described in the records as follows: –
Harry Busbridge (Policeman), F. Bryan, L. Cheshire, W. Evans, A. Paine, J. Thornton and E. Watts (Clowns), E. Ridout (Sloper), S. Cox (Ballet Girl), W. Smith (Paddy) and P. Keller (Sandy).
To quote the issue of the Harrow Observer dated 29th June, 1900 " The match, if it may be termed a match, caused considerable amusement to the onlookers, the antics of several players being greeted with roars of laughter. The play lasted until 5 p.m. when a move was made to witness the start of the Carnival Procession." It would seem that, to use a popular expression of today, a good time was had by all. A photograph of four of the participants, evincing every satisfaction with the efforts put forward on the day, will be found below.
Other prominent members of the Club during the late nineteenth century were Dr. William Hamilton Allen, still recalled by many as a very great cricketer, and Mr. Frank D’Arcy who lived at Stanmore Hall, and was a first-class opening bat. Ruben Roy, who was not only the local coal merchant but also the rate collector, was a first-class club cricketer, and his three sons all did well for the Club. H. Heading, prominent in village life, played for many years, as did his two sons, J. Heading and Ted Heading. Ted Heading was well known to many present members of the Club, having acted as groundsman for many years up to the beginning of the 1914-18 War, and being for long afterwards, until his death, a keen and indeed vociferous supporter (and critic) in the Pavilion enclosure.
The Match Against the Brewery
One of Stanmore’s most enjoyable matches around the turn of the century was the annual fixture against the old Stanmore Brewery, which stood on the Hill opposite the entrance to what is now the members’ car park. Before the start of each match it was the custom to roll a barrel of beer from the Brewery across the pitch into the Pavilion. The contents of this barrel would be quickly disposed of after the match (there were few teetotalers in the XI in those days!) – and then the players would troop off to the Brewery for a drop of real old brown ale in the cellars. The Brewery was owned by the Clutterbuck family. Sir Meadows Clutterbuck and other members of the family often played for the Club.
Similarly, the Landlords of the Vine Inn were invariably members of the Club and acted as genial "mine hosts" when the Club’s annual dinners were held at the Inn.
1896-1914: Vintage Years
The preparatory school which was established for many years at Stanmore Park, the delightful Regency House which stood on the site of the present Balloon Command Headquarters of the R.A.F., was always closely linked with the Cricket Club, and in its earlier days, Mr. Kemball Cook, the Headmaster, was an enthusiastic member of the Club. During the years between 1896 and the first World War, for most of which time F. G. Berwick was the Hon. Secretary of the Club, the staff of masters at the school was a tower of strength, and the skill and reputation of the sides turned out by the Club probably reached its peak when the Rev. Vernon Royle, the celebrated England cricketer, became Headmaster at the school. He and a number of his junior masters played regularly for the Club, as did Royle’s two sons, Vernon and Jack. The masters who have been regular members included W. N. Roe and the great John Daniell.
Vernon Royle, Junior, was elected Captain of the Club in 1911 following N. G. Ferguson, who had held the captaincy for many years and who was a distinguished figure on the ground.
The years immediately preceding the 1914 war were indeed vintage years for Stanmore; the best clubs around London were met annually on level terms, and the Stanmore XI regularly included county and England cricketers.
A fixture list survives for the year 1912 and it is interesting to see on it the names of so many we11- known clubs which are present-day opponents of Stanmore, among them our old friends Pinner, U.C.S. Old Boys, O.M.T., West Herts, Hampstead and Highgate. That year was a particularly good one for Stanmore for their record was: Nineteen matches won, five lost, and five rained off Not one completed match was drawn – a telling indication of the type of hard-hitting cricket which was played then.
Hero of the 1912 season was C. F. Welch, one of the best players in the history of the Club, who headed the batting averages with 1,215 runs scored in 22 innings. Runner-up was another well-known Stanmore cricketer, Ernest Marriott, who scored 744 runs and took 80 wickets. Marriott was, in fact, the Club’s stock bowler from 1896 until 1914.
In the period between 1900 and 1914 C. M. Crossman was a prominent player for the Club and a brilliant all-rounder; and other names which wi11 be known to many readers are those of J. M. Darbyshire (Chairman), J. Harrison (Hon. Secretary) and E. G. Sedgwick (Hon. Treasurer). Messrs. R. H. Bicknell and A. Boulton took a great interest in club affairs.
Many well-known Stanmore residents were members of the Club at this time, among them R. Turnbull (afterwards Sir Robert Turnbull), the Superintendent of the old L.N.W. Rly.; Montague Lush, K.C., who afterwards became a judge; Mr. S. J. Blackwell, J.P. (of Crosse & Blackwell); Mr. Owen Serjeant; and Mr. W. K. D’Arcy. Other celebrated cricketers who are known to have represented the Club on occasions include the great G. L. Jessop, who lived at Edgware for a time, and D. W. Carr. A note on some of these contributed by Sir Pelham Warner, M.B.E., appears elsewhere in this book.
In more recent years, J. H. Brady and E. Wells were celebrated stalwarts, the latter, who was known both to his intimates in Stanmore and to a wide circle of opponents as "Dusty," being a notable all-rounder.
Ted Busbridge, Oldest Member
It is believed that the oldest living member of the Club is Mr. Ted Busbridge, who came to Stanmore in 1876, and to whom we are indebted for much of the information concerning the Club’s activities and members prior to 1914. Ted and his brother Harry (who died in 1940) were always keen members, Harry as a player and Ted as an ardent supporter. The brothers were for many years’ partners in the firm of builders and contractors, which bore their name, and were for so long almost a landmark on Stanmore Hill. No doubt this firm had other activities, but it is certainly true that whenever anything in the nature of construction or plumbing was needed in the Stanmore Pavilion one or other of the brothers would immediately be called in, and the job quickly dealt with, to everyone’s satisfaction. Ted Busbridge still lives in Stanmore and occasionally watches matches on the ground.
The First World War – and After
At the outbreak of the first World War, the Club 1ost most of its young playing members to the Services, and during the period 1914 to 1918 little or no cricket was played on the ground, which fell into a poor condition. Following the cessation of hostilities, however, the Club was re-formed as part of an organization, which was then, called the Stanmore Sports Club. The Rev. S. F. L. Bernays again accepted office as President, and Mr. F. Hill, who sti11 lives in the Stanmore district, took on the job of Secretary. The Secretary of the Cricket section was then Mr. F. Bannard, and in 1923 he became a Trustee of the Club, being joined by Messrs. Frank Bearman, Fred Hill, Percival Horrod, Robert Leslie Romer, Hugh James Romer, Sidney Lea Smith and Owen Russell Serjeant. At this time, the only survivor of the Trustees appointed in 1876 was Charles Edward Keyser. New rules were formed, and it is interesting to note that one of the first resolutions passed concerned the use by playing members of bad language. It was laid down that any member who used improper language on the ground was to be brought before a Managing Committee to be dealt with. This rule is not one of the Club’s up-to-date rules, and this may be the explanation of the remarks exchanged last season between the Captain and Vice-Captain when an important catch was missed! During 1921 two tennis courts were provided at the cost of £150 on the level site of what now constitutes the practice wickets. The groundsman at that time was paid the princely sum of three shillings per week, and the subscription for both cricket and tennis was fifteen and sixpence per season, although this was raised in 1923 to £1 per season. It is believed that the formation of a hockey team in this year marked the first occasion on which this game had been played on the ground.
In 1924 the Rev. W. A. Hewitt, who had succeeded Mr. Bernays as Rector, was duly elected President of the Club, but in spite of a great dea1 of work put in by him and the Club’s officers at that time, it was soon realized that things were becoming more and more difficult. In particular, the financia1 position of the Club was giving the Officers grave concern, and, indeed, it is now clear that the Club had never been on a sound financia1 basis at any time since it was re-formed after the 1914-18 War. By 1926 matters had become extremely difficult, and the position was not improved in that year by the disbanding of the Football section; by the following tear the position was desperate indeed.
However, the advent of a new member in that year heralded a new era in the progress of the Club. This member was Mr. E. G. Bradfield, who applied for membership on taking up residence in Stanmore. On admission he found that he was one of five paying members, and it is perhaps not surprising in the circumstances that within a week of joining he was elected to the Committee! Almost immediately the Secretary fe11 i11, and his office together with that of Hon. Treasurer, was then taken over by Mr. Bradfield. He refused to be put out of his stride by the state of affairs which he found, and set to work to recruit playing members to strengthen the one side which was then representing the Club, and to induce loca1 people to become non-playing members (or Vice-Presidents, as they were then called) in order that the Club’s finances might be built up.
In the beginning, great difficulty was experienced in producing a regular side, or indeed in finding eleven playing members to put into the field each week. It is reported that on more than one occasion the Club had to enlist the help of casual spectators in order to complete its team, and in several cases these spectators, once having been persuaded to play, not only proved to be amongst the better players of the day but duly became playing members of the Club.
The ground had also been allowed to deteriorate, and was in a deplorable condition. Nothing could at first be done to improve the outfield, and wickets were prepared only on the Friday evening before a match, on a part of the ground which, although originally included in the table was hard to recognize as such. Bradfield refused to be daunted by this state of affairs, and by his untiring efforts as an official of the Club (he remained as Hon. Treasurer until I937 and as Hon. Secretary until the outbreak of war in I939) contributed enormously to the fact that the Club was once again placed on a sound footing.
1930: The First County Match
On 11th September, 1930 occurred an event which, in that year and the years that fo11owed, was to bring prestige to the Club and arouse great interest among 1ocal cricket followers. It was a fixture against a Middlesex County XI – the first of what was to become an annual fixture against county and Lord’s teams.
Arranged by Mr. H. B. Ridgway, of the M.C.C. and Middlesex 2nd XI, who had been a Stanmore Club member for several years, the match attracted one of the largest crowds seen on the ground for many years. Stanmore fielded fifteen players (today they are, justifiably, less modest and field eleven) against a Middlesex team which included Murrell, the county and England stumper, Beveridge and Hart – quite a strong side. Stanmore, batting first, raised the respectable total of 140 (thanks to useful double figure scores by K. N. Hargreaves, D’Arcy Yeo, and Norman Bowditch). Middlesex passed this total for the loss of seven wickets, George Hart contributing a brilliant 71. An even stronger side came down in 1931 – it included Bill Bowes, the Yorkshire and England fast bowler – but this game was stillborn. Owing to bad weather not a ball was bowled. Precisely the same thing happened in the following year; the local papers reported those disma1 cricketing words: " Rain. No Play."
The most memorable of those pre-war county matches was undoubtedly the 1934 game when Denis Compton, as a young lad on the Lord’s ground staff, gave Stanmore a foretaste of the brilliance that was in him. In partnership with Bill Edrich – the first of many greater ones between the "terrible Middlesex Twins "– he scored a glorious century, studded with boundary hits over the road and the pavilion. Older Stanmore residents still talk about that innings; and, on another page of this book, Bill Edrich recollects it in an article, which he has specially written for us.
Sir Walter Kent, who lived not far from the ground, and had been a member since 1895, was elected President of the Club in 1930 and in the following year T. D’Arcy Yeo was appointed as Captain. A year later the late W. Chapple was elected as Chairman and joined the Committee with his brother Charles. The advice and tangible assistance of all these men were invaluable in Committee, and the Club rapidly began to take a progressive trend as a result.
During this season, C. H. Gadney (now famous as an International Rugby Referee, and a member of the Rugby Football Union Committee) joined the Club, and almost immediately the results of his organizing ability, enthusiasm, and personality began to be felt. Through him also new playing members were found, and these included the present Captain of the Club, Kenneth Chapman, and his brother Bruce. Gadney took over the position of Match Secretary and in a comparatively short time improved the fixture list of the Club out of all recognition. Meanwhile, new and better playing members were arriving. These included John Edge, yet another Master from Stanmore Park, who had appeared in representative matches in Gloucester, Phil Cowan, a most punishing batsman on his day, Jack Cochran, a left-arm slow bowler, Ron Dearsly, a left-arm bowler, who was later to take such a large part in the administrative work of the Club, and others.
In the meantime, the captaincy of the Club had been undertaken by Leslie Southern, and it is probably true to say that the Club owes more to him, Cyril Gadney and Gerry Bradfield than to any other members in its history, in connection with its rise to the position it reached immediately prior to the late war. Living practically on the ground, and having a marked bent for constructional and engineering work of all kinds, Leslie Southern not only acted as unofficial (and honorary) groundsman, supervising and assisting the various officials who have undertaken that duty, but also made sure that the Pavilion and other buildings on the ground continued habitable.
The groundsman in these later years was George Cheshire, who also played for the Club, and was responsible for a good deal of big hitting and accurate medium pace bowling. Another stalwart of those years was Chris Deane, who, in spite of advancing years, toiled away unceasingly, and took many wickets – with considerable assistance from Gadney behind the " sticks."
Further new playing members joined the Club, including a number introduced by Gadney and the Chapman brothers, and, as a result, by 1936 the Club had not only gathered together a very good side but had a strong Rugby contingent. Alan Thompson and Frank Richards were both fast-scoring left-handers, and Chris Thompson, a Harlequin Rugger forward and England Trials player at that time, and a man of fine physique, achieved a reputation as a tremendous hitter. Many of his hits are still talked about by those who watched or played with him, and on a great many occasions at Stanmore he hit sixes which either cleared completely the practice wickets or landed, fu11 pitch, in the pond behind the Pavilion. The leading player in these years was probably Bruce Chapman, who was a very forceful but watchful bat, particularly strong off the back foot, and an apparently tireless fast bowler. Bruce scored a great many runs and took part in a number of prolific stands with John Edge and Phil Cowan. The story is told that Cyril Gadney, who by now had become Captain of the Club, offered pints of beer as a reward to any batsman who took part in a century stand, and for the next nine matches after the offer was made had to pay up, apparently being happy to do so! In three consecutive years between 1935 and 1939 Bruce Chapman scored over 1,000 runs and took over 100 wickets in a season, a remarkable record for a weekend cricketer.
Stronger Opponents, Better Fixtures
When Eddie Ham, a stylish opening batsman who had moved to the Club from Highgate, and Maurice Daly, yet another Harlequin rugger player, joined the side, the 1st XI had probably reached its highest standard at any time in the Club’s history, and in particular regularly made its runs at a very fast rate.
Jack Rafter, the Club’s present Vice-Captain and leg- break bowler, joined the Club in 1938 and, backed up by some keen and aggressive fielding, immediately began to take a large number of wickets. By this time, owing to the untiring work of those already mentioned on the ground, and the assistance given by such stalwarts as Alan Thompson and Jim Allsop, the square had again become a very good batting wicket, and the Club had probably reached its most successful point to date. Four teams were being produced regularly on Saturdays and two on Sundays. Games were being played against even stronger opponents, and when, in 1938, Sir Walter Kent died and Mr. Frank Bearman, who then resided at Hill House, not far from the ground, was elected President in his place, it looked as though the Club was destined to continue to make progress, and to become one of the leading clubs north of the Thames. This optimistic view was not shaken when, in May 1939 the Pavilion, which was originally built in 1854 with a thatched roof (replaced by tiles early in the present century), was burnt to the ground during the night. The outbreak apparently occurred soon after midnight, the alarm being given by a passing motorist. The flames obtained a firm grip in a very short time and, on arrival, the firemen were forced to concentrate their efforts on saving the adjoining buildings. It is said that at one time the flames reached a height of 150 feet, and when, after two hours, the fire was brought under control the Pavilion was gone. A grievous loss, not only because of the valuable cricket equipment and records which were destroyed, but also because Stanmore had lost a genuinely picturesque building.
The Club refused to be deterred, however, and by the following Saturday one of the remaining huts had been converted into the canteen, a marquee had been purchased and erected and new sets of cricket gear and canteen utensils had been purchased. Although grievously ill at this time, the late Mr. Harry Busbridge worked unremittingly during a11 the week, fixing up the new building He had been a member of the Club for fifty years almost to the day!
1939-45: Cricket and Ack-Ack
Upon the outbreak of war in September 1939 the Committee of the Club decided to suspend its activities until such time as it might be decided that it was practicable to resume. Fortunately, this state of inactivity did not last very long, and at an emergency meeting held in 1940 it was decided by those remaining to resume operations during the coming season. This was in fact done, and the Club continued, in spite of a11 difficulties, to produce some sort of a cricket match on the ground on summer weekends throughout the war. E. G. Bradfield being no longer available owing to war duties, R. V. Dearsly, the then Treasurer, took over his position as Secretary. A. G. Henshaw was elected Chairman, and continued in that post until 1946, being elected a life member in that year for the contribution he had made to the running of the Club during the war years.
The cricket produced was obviously not of a particularly high standard, the important thing being to provide some sort of relaxation for those (whether players or spectators) who remained in and around the London area in spite of war service, and to provide games for a11 members home on leave from service in the Forces. It was made a cardina1 rule that games must be found, at however short notice, for Service members on leave, and sides were produced on most Saturdays and Sundays. In fact, as time went on, it proved possible to run two sides on Saturdays from time to time.
Several matches were played on the ground in aid of British Red Cross Funds, including four against the British Empire XI, and some hundreds of pounds were raised as a result. These were played in spite of the fact that a substantial piece of the ground had been requisitioned on behalf of the War Office, to provide an anti-aircraft gun site. Part of the Club buildings were used as quarters for the gun crews, and several of the military personnel became keen supporters and members of the Club. No doubt this was of no hindrance in the important discussion which took place on one occasion, when the military authorities were finally persuaded that the best position to mount the gun would not be in the middle of the cricket square!
Times were difficult, and the railings round the ground, which had been erected by the Club at a cost of £170, were requisitioned. However, a good deal of most enjoyable cricket resulted, and many of our constant supporters expressed their gratitude for something which was able in some small way to take their minds away from the manifold difficulties of those days. On V.E. Day a large bonfire was burned on the corner of the ground, and many members, together with wives and children, gathered there for the celebrations. One such enthusiast produced a bottle of "Founders Ale," which was a11eged to be 16o years old, and although this precious liquid was dispensed only in wine glasses, astonishing stories are told of certain members’ subsequent behavior. During the war period the Club was fortunate when a non-playing member, Mr. W.H. Stevens, volunteered to take over the office of Hon. Treasurer, a position he held for many years. He later became Chairman of the Club and held this office from 1948 to 1953 with distinction. The Club’s thanks are due in no small measure to Messrs. Southern, Dearsly, Allsop, Yeo and Henshaw, and also to John Whipp-Goode, for a number of years our most enthusiastic amateur groundsman, for the excellent work put in during the war years, in keeping the ground in a reasonable condition, and thus averting a repetition of the difficulties which overtook the Club following the previous World War.
R. W. BARLOW, R.A.F.
J. COCHRAN, R.A.F.
D. E. PIKE, R.A.F.
Post-War Revival and Improvements
The 1945 season, coming soon after the end of the War, was largely one of taking stock. Fixtures had to be re-established with many old opponents, and a number of wartime fixtures dispensed with. Members were gradually returning, and Committees and teams had to be reorganized.
With the strengthening of the Committee, a complete revision of the make-up and Rules of the Club was undertaken and a new set of Rules were drawn up, which were subsequently adopted at the Annual General Meeting of the Club in 1946. At the same time the financia1 position was reviewed, and the subscription for playing members over twenty-one years of age was increased to £2 12s 6d. The position as to ownership of the ground was again reviewed, and not only were four new Trustees appointed – namely, Messrs. Chapple, Dearsly, Rafter and Southern – but it was decided, in order that there should never be any doubt in future that the ground was owned by the Club, and did not, as was sometimes thought, still form part of the Common, to register the Title at H.M. Land Registry.
This was accordingly done, and the freehold title of the Club is now, as a result, guaranteed by the State. Catering arrangements, which had previously been left to the wives and lady friends of members (who had, of course, done a noble job during the war years), had also to be reviewed, and the decision was taken to place a contract with an outside caterer. This has proved a success over the years, and has provided valuable revenue for the Club.
It was thought essential that something be done to improve facilities in the buildings, which were being used as a Pavilion. Thanks to the good offices of Mr. Cyril Gadney, a military hut was obtained and erected by the members available on footings which, it is said by the experts, will support (if necessary) a block of flats!
With these points of organization and so on success- fully dealt with, the Club turned its attention to building up the playing strength, and although it cannot be claimed that this has yet reached the standard which had been attained in the years immediately before the war, many new members have joined and a continued improvement has been apparent. Numbers of pre-war stalwarts have done their best to carry on and the fixture list now approaches its previous form.
A number of Benefit Matches have been played since the war on the ground, usually against a side composed largely of Middlesex County players, and the Club has invariably managed to give a reasonable account of itself. Indeed, on one occasion a thrilling victory was scored.
A new roller, with mower-attachment, was purchased at a cost of some hundreds of pounds in 1951, and already a substantia1 improvement in the cricket and outfield is apparent. The practice nets have changed out of all recognition and, if not abused, wil1 in a year or two rank with the best.
A license has been obtained and a bar installed in the Pavilion for the use of playing and non-playing members, and as a result many a happy summer’s evening has been spent in the Pavilion after the matches.
In 1951 the Club accepted as Winter tenants, the Harrow Hockey Club. A plunge bath and washing accommodation was installed at the back of the Pavilion, and the Hockey Club provided much useful assistance in connection with these additions. Two hockey pitches are now used, and the Cricket Club and the Hockey Club have each provided members for the other.
The Club – Today and Tomorrow
It need hardly be said that we have made up our mind to progress, and although we are conscious of our shortcomings, and the need for greater strength both in our administration and the teams representing the Club, we feel that we have in the Club today the nucleus of what is necessary to bring about success.
We own our own ground; a ground which, it may be added, in situation and surroundings is second to none in club cricket north of the Thames. We have the equipment needed to turn it into an ideal playing pitch. We have a Committee who are determined to do all they can to make it as easy as possible for the playing members to produce good, attractive cricket, worthy of the Club. We have an enthusiastic band of non-playing members and a loyal crowd of supporters.
Many of our opponents would be glad of only one of these advantages. It is up to our younger members to appreciate their inestimable good fortune, and to make sure that the rate of progress is continually increased. Not only must the various improvements in and around the ground be maintained and added to, but the playing standard must also keep pace. Let us return to the delightful cricket we used to play, when Stanmore teams were known for fast scoring and keen fielding, and let the young men in the Club appreciate that those now in official positions cannot go on for ever, and accept the responsibilities which are a part of their heritage of these past 100 years.
In their President, Mr. Frank Bearman, although perhaps no longer as active as in former years, they have a man fu11 of energy, which he employs to the Club’s advantage in a variety of ways, and one who shows readiness at all times to assist, whilst being content (like all good Presidents) to remain in the background as far as the day to day working is concerned. In their Vice-President, Mr. Charles Chapple, and such senior members as Messrs. Stevens, D’Arcy Yeo and others, they have an invaluable reserve of wisdom and experience. The Club owes its Secretary, Ron Dearsly, a deep debt of gratitude, and an appreciation of his efforts appears on page 12. Younger men in John Carter (Hon. Treasurer), Geoffrey Lashmar (Hon. Team Secretary), Denys Barker (Hon. Match Secretary), Laurie Ridgway and Alec Peters are adding to their unbounded enthusiasm valuable experience, which should stand the Club in good stead for many years to come. We have a progressive Committee, who are continually searching for ways and means of improving the standard of the Club in every direction, and who are particularly conscious of the desirability of affording better facilities for our loyal spectators. There is, however, room for more young blood, and in particular for those ready to take on the jobs of the older members who now deserve to be allowed to retire.
On the playing side there is no doubt that we still have room for a number of good cricketers, whether these come to us ready-made, or are developed from the younger players at present in the Club. Our Captain again this year is Kenneth Chapman, who has the assistance of Jack Rafter as Vice-Captain. The Second XI is captained by John Boys, and the Vice-Captain is Jim Allsop, and there can be no doubt that these two will get the very utmost out of the material which is to be found in their XI. Owing to the untimely death of George Lacy, who had done so much in the past, in running the third XI and in service on the Committee, rearrangements have had to be made in connection with this team, and the Captain is now Leslie Bowditch, with Don Challis as his Vice-Captain. Both are conscious of the responsibility which rests upon their shoulders, not merely to win matches but also to ensure that anyone amongst the very young members of the Club who shows promise is given every possible encouragement to improve his cricket and to make his way into the higher teams as soon as possible.
Although amongst the players expected to play in the first team, in addition to Chapman and Rafter, wi11 again be found those experienced cricketers Wellings, Armistead, Ham and Morgan, together with some whom, we are convinced, have not yet reached their best, such as Parrack, Lawrence, Maynard, Frampton, Peters, Moser, and Barker, there is plenty of scope for any number of newcomers. There are, as we know, some very promising players amongst the young men who, a year or two ago, were regarded as boys, and it wi11 be most surprising if two or three out of Heaffey, Webb, Thomas, Blackman and James do not become top-class players. There are, moreover, in the third XI a number of even younger boys who show great promise, such as Forsyth and Knowles (who have represented Middlesex schools), and several others. There is room in all the sides representing the Club for those with talent, and it cannot be made too clear that any Stanmore boy who is keen enough to practice and shows willingness to learn, can be certain of receiving some most enjoyable (and extremely in- expensive) cricket, and of being given the utmost advice and encouragement at our command.
New non-playing members, too, will receive a warm welcome.
Conscious, therefore, that many difficulties are sti11 ahead of us, but determined to succeed, we appeal to our young men to be worthy of the past, and we look forward with eager anticipation to the next 100 years of our history!
THREE PRESENT DAY STALWARTS
The mainspring of the Club is wound up in the five-and-a-half feet of Ronald Dearsly. Seeking further to handicap his progress here below, Nature has endowed him with scarcely enough fat to grease a gimlet. Having thus far set him back, she must have feared for his surviva1, and forthwith equipped him with the largest voice you ever heard, to save him from being trampled on by the crowd. In the twenty-odd years since he joined the Club he has controlled, either as Hon. Treasurer or Hon. Secretary, the very difficult financia1 arrangements of the Club with ski11 and dignity.
While drinking tea and eating buns in the pavilion of the Barnet Rugger Club, I was delighted to see the name and photograph of R. V. Dearsly among their stalwarts of twenty-five years ago. He must have been no mean performer at the Rugby game to have played for Barnet. However, he joined Stanmore as a cricketer, and was welcomed as an addition to the side, which had more left-handers than right-handers. He bats and bowls left-handed, and has enjoyed considerable success. Above a11, and this has always fitted him into the pattern, he can run. He is the origina1 "Third Man." Long before we heard of the man and the zither, Ron Dearsly was Stanmore’s "Third Man." There is a rough bit of territory that stretches in an arc from the lime trees to the sightscreen; no one has ever covered so much of that and so successfully as Ron Dearsly.
He has held at one time or another every office in the Club both on the field and on the committee, and is always aware of and willing to undertake the hard work of a cricket club. In addition to his natural flair for handling the money and the office work, he is a great authority on the growing of grass and the preparing of wickets, and to anyone who is in doubt about the best methods to employ, he will doubtless show the parts of the hands where the corns should grow.
We understand that he is grooming a successor in case he should leave Stanmore. So much of his tire- less energy has been devoted to carrying forward his work that there will be less to do for the man who succeeds him. There is no man in the Club who could hope to fill his shoes, for he is, with his good humor, his ardor and his knowledge and approva1 of his fe11ow men, a sterling character quite irreplaceable. If he leaves us, he wi11 do so, I know, with many regrets. He will leave behind a going concern, a job well done, and his many friends will wish him similar success and popularity wherever he goes.
name is now greater, I think, than the name of the Stanmore Cricket Club, which he has helped to build. He is a great man, magnified in length, breadth and endowment. I challenge the historians to find anyone among their giants to match the stature of Ken Chapman. His brother Bruce is his only equa1. These two magnificent cricketers have a style of their own making, unspoiled by stereotyped coaching. It is based on native ball-game-sense, good health and the tremendous enjoyment they find in a11 their doings. They bow1 with every ounce of vigor they can muster. They bat for the sheer delight of seeing the ba11, perhaps not the most suitable delivery, sai1 over the Pavilion roof. Their own efforts and their fine example – we were not very good when they joined us – soon raised the quality of cricket at Stanmore so that we were able to play and defeat the best clubs in the district. This was not because of individua1 superiority but because we were infected by the Chapman enthusiasm. We hit the ball harder, we took two runs where fainter hearts would have run one, and we fielded for the love of running and the satisfaction of a hard, straight throw. This spirit gathered for the club hundreds of regular supporters and established it firmly enough to survive the war. Since then Ken Chapman has been the Club’s Captain. In spite of his wisdom and prowess he used to be considered too irresponsible to take full charge. There was an occasion, an important match: the wicket shone, the screens were in position, the crowd expectant, and both teams ready some ten minutes after the start was due. The Vice-Captain had exhausted his apologies for the non-appearance of his master, when suddenly the mighty man stormed through the gate, breathless and red of face, his enormous bag (without handles, of course) under one arm. He excused himself to the satisfaction of even his bitterest critics with the words – " I’m sorry, chaps, the spuds wouldn’t boil."
He enjoys the individual success of his men, is always ready with an excuse for the unfortunate who misses a catch; he bowls most when there is least chance of success and puts himself in to bat too late often to be of much use.
If it so happens that in the last twenty minutes fifty runs are needed, and there is a wicket or two in hand, then if one of those wickets is Ken Chapman’s you can be sure to win.
After the match we meet Ken Chapman the perfect host, the wit, the conversationalist. He has an inexhaustible fund of anecdote, a masterly choice of the exact word, an easy flow of high good humor, an Oscar Wilde without bitterness, a Bernard Shaw without self-esteem.
We are fortunate, indeed, that we have for our Captain the most complete cricketer; he has devoted himself to the Club for twenty years, and is the greatest authority on everything connected with the game.
has almost completed the fifteen years’ probation and may now fairly call himself a man of Stanmore. During that time he has done more work, made more friends and far more enemies than most people do in a lifetime. He is the only slow bowler since Chris Deane consistently successful on Stanmore’s wickets; a lean figure with 1ong arm and bowling fingers as crafty as those of a pickpocket.
The better the quality of the opposition the more certain we are of his fina1 success. He is inclined to lose patience with the world and himself when faced by the nervous type of batsman who covers his jitters by carrying on light banter with the wicket keeper. His despair is complete when the "clown," in a frenzy of fear, succeeds in hauling a good leg break high and wide of the outfielder at square leg.
His hatred of mannerisms and extravagance in dress or behavior always exercises his extraordinary faculty for apt comment, made loud enough to cause general amusement or embarrassment according as the cap fits.
On a particular occasion when he had been bowling with little success, he was observed to be glaring darkly at the new batsman. Of rugged construction, the batsman had taken guard and was fiercely hacking a black hole in what Jack has come to regard as his own sacred sods. He could bear it no longer. " What have we got here," he asked in a loud voice –"a b – – open-cast miner "?
Behind this pose, for it is nothing more, which glares defiance and truculence, there are all the characteristics of the good sportsman. He is modest in victory, a good humored loser, and a loyal supporter of the Captain and the team. He stoutly defends lost or unpalatable causes to the sad detriment of his own popularity. Those who know him we11 will join me in hoping that he will enjoy many more years of cricket at Stanmore. LS.