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Hethersett Cricket Club - A History

Long Field

By  A.J.R. Harris

And a long field it is, considerably over a century in length, even when we look no further back than the first known published reports of cricket matches played at Hethersett. An animated scene it is too, liberally dotted with the figures of those who played out the story we attempt to read. Butchers, brickmakers, blacksmith, farmers and farm workers, parsons and publicans, tailors and thatchers, squires and shopkeepers; all those, among others, feature in that story. Although distance in time precludes ready recognition of the more remote figures, we do at least know their names and what they accomplished in the game of cricket. There in the distance are H and A Bloomfield, the former capable of knocking up a century, the latter a formidable bowler, besides being a good batsman. There also are the three Guntons who were almost a cricket team on their own! The Moores, the Childs and the Danns are there too, together with many another Hethersett cricketer of whom we shall now learn more as our story assumes clearer outline in the year 1866.

Appropriately enough, the first match of which we have published record was one played against Wymondham at Wymondham on a long ago summer's day which proved to be a cold one. Alas, however, although we have a report of the match and know that Hethersett won it, the scoresheets were not published.

Norwich Mercury: July 28th, 1866

WYMONDHAM v HETHERSETT

On Tuesday last a match was played on Wymondham ground between the above clubs, resulting in a victory for Hethersett. The day was cold, though not unfavourable for the sport and a large company of the elite of the town were assembled to witness the game. The first innings of Wymondham produced the respectable score of 97, the neat play of Cleveland contributing 35 runs thereto. However the Hethersett club went at their work, the close of their innings showed what pluck can do, for it placed them 16 ahead, Bloomfield adding 35 to this. The fielding of Hethersett was admired though the long grass much incommoded them; but the bowling was the weakest pont for Wymondham as that was not as good as usual for them. Mr Mobbs catered in his excellent manner, and the two clubs seemed to be equally matched at the table as on the turf.

From the above we may deduce some illuminating facts. Wymondham for instance was clearly an already established club. Moreover since the "elite of the town" attended and a professional caterer provided refreshments, we may assume that a cricket match was something of a social as well as sporting occasion. That Hethersett's admirable fielding was "much incommoded by the long grass," we may well believe that they were not accustomed to such conditions on their home ground. George Moore saw to that! And when the return match was  played at Hethersett a week later, the home team won by an innings and 42 runs - the score reading

Hethersett 97, Wymondham 27 and 28

In fact all four of Hethersett's reported matches for that season were wins for the club, the others being:

August 1866: Hethersett 100, Costessey 96

October 1866: Hethersett 84, Nelson Club Norwich 53 and 21.

The season of 1867 presents a more checkered story. What must have been the first match of the season warranted the following report:

Norwich Mercury: April 15th, 1867

HETHERSETT v ASSOCIATION

A match between the above clubs was played on Tuesday last in the beautiful grounds belonging to Henry Back Esq at Hethersett, and after a very interesting game, the Association was declared the winners on the first innings by 56 runs; in the second innings of the Association only 3 wickets fell i.e Berry 3, Wodehouse 2, Cole 0; Williams not out 5; byes 1. The following is the score.

Norwich Association

Croxford b Bligh 11
Cole c Dowson b Bligh 0
Isbell b Bligh 8
Massingham c Reynolds b W. Gunton 13
Banham b F. Gunton 29
Sewell b F. Gunton 23
Williams c Porrett b Bligh 5
Thompson lbw b W. Gunton 0
Wodehouse lbw 0
A. Berry Not Out 21
Shalders b Bloomfield 2

Extras

27
Total 139

Hethersett

Reynolds Run Out 1
Dawson b Cole 1
Bligh c Thompson b Cole 0
W. Gunton b Cole 9
F. Gunton b Thompson 39
Bloomfield c Sewell 0
Turner b Cole 0
Rotherham c Isbell b Sewell 14
T. Wasson b Shalders 1
A.H. Back b Thompson 5
Porrett Not Out 0

Extras

(wides 10) 13
Total 83

Another notable feature of the above is that it provides the first reported appearance for Hethersett of the Guntons or at least two of them - Frederick and William. The third - Edward- had yet to appear. Whatever their original links with Hethersett, if indeed any, by the 1870s they were domiciled at Costessey, brickmaking, carpentry and the keeping of the Red Lion occupying their varied attentions. Hethersett, because of its geographical location, had long been the focal point for neighbourhood activities. Its cricket likewise earned the attention of would be players and, as we are told, "there was always plenty of fellows wanting to play for the club - if they were good enough and got the chance." Meanwhile the club itself indulged no narrow parochialism when electing its members and players. For example Jim Porrett was a farmer of Great Melton and Cleveland, an erstwhile stalwart of the Wymondham club, found a place in the Hethersett team. Yet there was no lack of home talent which included Mr Rotherham, master of the village school. Nor was there likely to be when, from all accounts all the males of Hethersett were what would now be described as "hooked" on cricket.

On May 30th, 1867 Hethersett met Norfolk and Norwich Club in a match which, though it proved inconclusive (being presumably "rained off"), reflected small credit upon the former.

Norwich Mercury, June 8th, 1867

NORFOLK AND NORWICH CLUB V HETHERSETT

A match was played between these clubs on the 30th day with the following results:

Norfolk and Norwich Club First Innings

F. Brown   b E. Gunton 3
S.P Beare Run Out 4
S. Brown   b E. Gunton 0
C.R. Wyman   b E. Gunton 7
H.G. Barwell c F. Gunton b Bligh 8
P.C. Day   b F. Gunton 15
H. Drake     2
E. Partridge Run Out 2
W. Willett   b E. Gunton 8
Powell   b F. Gunton 13
D.H. Abbott Not Out 0
Extras     15
Total     77

Second Innings

F. Brown c F. Gunton b W. Gunton 21
S. Beare Not  Out  8
S. Brown   b A. Bloomfield 5
C. Wyman Not  Out 10
H. Barwell   b W. Gunton 3
P. Day c Cleveland b Bloomfield 8
E. Partridge   b W. Gunton 6
Powell   b W. Gunton 26
Extras     7
Total     106

Hethersett

W. Gunton c Barwell b Beare 4
H. Williams   b F. Brown 0
F. Gunton     7
E. Gunton c Willett   6
Rotherham   b Beare 1
H. Turner C Abbott b Brown 4
Blyth   b Beare 0
A. Bloomfield     0
Cleveland Not Out 0
T. Watson   b Beare 3
Porrett   b Brown 0
Extras     4
Total     29

However, as the season warmed up, Hethersett must have vastly improved its performance cricket-wise. This we deduce from the report of a match played against Barford, another village that appears early in the annals of Norfolk cricket and of which was said: "Barford were always reckoned to have a good cricket team."

Norwich Mercury 17th August 1867

HETHERSETT v BARFORD

Played on Monday, August 12th. Hethersett won the toss and batted. It will be noted that the two Bloomfields (or Blomfields!) were in form on that occasion, their combined scores more than covering the sum of Barford's runs made in two innings.

Hethersett

Dawson b Rev Turner 19
Steedman Run Out 3
H. Bloomfield st H. Turner 100
Back b Blyth 19
W. Watson b Melton 0
A. Bloomfield Not Out 58
T. Watson c Master 0
Porritt b Blyth 3
J. Watson 0
Howell b H. Turner 8
Melton b Blyth 0
Extras 18
Total 228

 

Barford First Innings

Lewis c Howell 3
Blyth b T. Watson 0
Melton b A. Bloomfield 1
Hutcheons b T. Watson 4
H. Turner c H. Bloomfield 5
Rev Turner c Dawson 22
Masters c and b Watson 13
F. Turner run out 0
Penamn b Back 6
Crack b Back 0
Hicks not out 0
Extras 18
Total 72

Barford Second Innings

Lewis not out 8
Blyth not out 16
Hutcheons b Bloomfield 6
H. Turner c and b Watson 3
Masters b Bloomfield 2
F. Turner b Watson 0
Crack c and b Watson 1
Hicks run out 0
Extras 5
Total 41