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Hethersett Cricket Club - A History

Fifty Up

By  A.J.R. Harris

For some reason published reports of village cricket matches are virtually non existent for the period of the 1870s. This is perhaps more surprising with respect to Hethersett CC because not only are we assured "the Club was playing plenty of cricket at that time" against neighbouring clubs, but was also entertaining teams from as far afield as London! Among those teams from far distant were the Westminster Wanderers. Dr. Deacon himself witnesses some "very good matches against the Westminster Club." He also played against it himself.

Yet another such club was known as the London Pioneers .. presumably because they ventured to explore the rural frontiers of cricket! But "they were good players and always gave us a good match." The first appearance Dr Deacon made for Hethersett was against a London club. He was "then about seventeen" which would make the year 1878.

Nor must we neglect to record the tradition that "certain members of the MCC" having been gathered at Old Buckenham to play a private match, then elected to join a team playing at Hethersett.. And that tradition is not nearly so "far out" as it may appear to be. To start with, Old Buckenham Hall was a Mecca of cricket at one time and many a cricket celebrity (including Jack Hobbs) played on the fine and well kept cricket field in the grounds of the Hall. Furthermore as we shall see, the Hethersett club was eminently capable of providing a team fit to meet the MCC of that time.

How well cricket was flourishing at Hethersett in the early 1880s may be gauged from the fact that by that time, the parish was running two teams, the other being known as Thickthorne. Of course the two teams played each other, but it appears that, when needful, the senior team could call upon players from Thickthorne. If this suggests that Hethersett regarded Thickthorne as a sort of "nursery" for talent, then they were on a good wicket, as the following reports clearly indicate:

August 16th, 1884: Thickthorne 101, Hethersett 54

September 9th, 1884: Hethersett 52, Thickthorne 66

July 7th, 1884: Thickthorne 83, Hethersett 72

September 11th, 1884: Hethersett 85, Eaton 60

In the latter of these matches, having made 85 runs off four men (H. Dobbie, R. Rudd, Rev H. Watson and C. Rudd) Hethersett confidently declared. In the same year (as near as we can date it), Hethersett having "scored no more than 50 themselves," dismissed Wymondham for 30. The scant report does not state who bowled so well for Hethersett on that occasion. However, we do know that one of the Moores was playing. And what that could mean in terms of devastating bowling! Meanwhile despite lack of other reports, we are able to say that the season of 1885 was a distinguished one for Hethersett CCs self esteem. Why? Well in July of that year, Norfolk CC defeated MCC with the phenomenal score of 695 runs no less! The members of the Norfolk team were - L.K. Jarvis, C.J.E Jarvis, Hansell, Kennaway, P. H. Morton, Birkbeck, Rev Wickham, J. Blunt, E. Pattesen, A.M. Lee and Rudd (C and R) and the majority of those players as we learn from a letter written by Dr Deacon in 1929 "played regularly for Hethersett" at that time. So was founded the tradition which enabled the Late Fred Dodman to proudly assert "it was always reckoned that Hethersett did beat the MCC, and as far as makes no difference... so they did!" In the same year (as it appears) the Club won so handsomely against a team from Norwich Barracks that for some time the occasion was claimed "the day Hethersett taught the Army how to play cricket!" A distinguished cricket club at that time was the Norwich Blues, who played at Lakenham. Hethersett played them often and with varying fortunes we must assume. But a significant occasion was a match played in June 1886, when each side scored precisely 132 runs, the highest scorer for Hethersett being RS Butcher who made 77. A month previous to this, the opposition had been Wramplingham the result being:

Hethersett 39 and 83 Wramplingham 28 and 23

The Hethersett team comprised of J. Doggett, C. Rudd, W.J. Parker, H. Blake, S. Moore, T. Garven, W. Dann, C. Wortley and J. Howard. From the standpoint of the 1980s the period we look back upon seems "long ago and far away" In time it is so. Not so, however, in terms of communicated experience and memories.

Consequently, from one source and another, we are fortunate enough to be able to present a fairly comprehensive list of men who played for Hethersett in the last quarter of the 19th century. Many of their names are still to be met with at Hethersett. Here is the list:

W. Back, Bland, J. Blunt, F. Buckingham, T. Buckingham, R.S Butcher, Cozens-Hardy, Curson, W. Dann, E. Dann, R. Davey, D. Dawson, E. Deacon, F. Deacon, E.R Deacon, H. Dobbie, J. Doggett, G. Gowen, T. Gowen, Heydon, J. Howard, C.J.E Jarvis, L.K Jarvis, Hansell, N. Jodrell, Leggatt. J. Livock, G. Moore, S. Moore, P.H. Morton, W.J. Parker, Pinwell, E. Patteson, R. Peek, A.T Riches, C. Rudd, R. Rudd, Rev H. Watson, A. West, Rev Wickham, F. Wilson Woods, C. Wortly, A. Want, R. Clements, J. Porrett, M. Perkins, H. Lack and J. Slater.

The diversity of occupations represented in that list is not without passing interest. Besides four or five farmers, there is a plumber, a butcher, a doctor of medicine, an army officer, a shoemaker, a coachman, at least two solicitors, whilst J. Howard, it seems, was son of the landlord of the Queen's Head. That's cricket! Or as "Old George" Moore is reported to have said on many occasions "when you're playing cricket, you're just as good as the way you play, and no better!"

The sole report we have for the season 1887 is, again a verbal one, concerning a Jubilee Match played by Hethersett, at home, against a team combining the cricketing talents of Wymondham and Attleborough. It must have been an exciting game, for Hethersett were set to win, needing only two runs, but with the last man already in, Fred Buckingham was the unhappy hero of the occasion. Whether in order to keep strike or just in his eagerness to steal the required extra run, Buckingham got himself run out, so leaving the visitors to win by one run! But that again is cricket in a village as well as anywhere else. Fred Dodman, who knew Mr Buckingham very well, later on affirmed "Fred never forgave himself for losing the Jubilee Match!"

For the season of 1888 we are able to report as follows:

June 21st at Lakenham

Hethersett 104 (top scorer W. E. Mansell (47)

South Heigham 219-7 (E. Marley 108)

In a return match a week later, South Heigham made 196-7 declared, E. J. Minns hitting 128 of them. Hethersett responded with 22 all out. J. Porret and R. Clements made the runs. So the Heigham bowling must have been something to witness.

July at Hethersett

20th Hussars 72 and 64 Hethersett 92 and 54

But in a return match played in August, Hethersett suffered the indignity of losing by six wickets.

Hethersett 33 and 25 20th Hussars 39 and 20.

But pride was restored when on August 24th, from what must have been a good match, the following win was forthcoming.

Hethersett 117, 9th Regimental District 105.

Previous to this, however, though dates are uncertain, two other defeats had been met with against Swardeston and CEYMS (Norwich).

Hethersett 59, CEYMS 64

Swardeston 114 Hethersett 52 (only five Hethersett batsmen making runs - Partridge, Boileau, Perkins, Lack and J. Slater).

The season of 1889, to judge by what scant records we have, showed no noticeable improvement in Hethersett's cricketing fortunes. Indeed, it was notable for two defeats the club suffered at the hands of old rivals Wymondham -

May 1889 - Wymondham 86, Hethersett 40

August 1889 - Wymondham 120, Hethersett 57

But in the July, Hethersett would doubtless have beaten Keswick handsomely if rain had not intervened, the recorded scores being: Hethersett 74 and 86, Keswick 39 (no second innings).

The early 1890s presented much the same picture, so far as can be ascertained. We know that in August of that year, Hethersett took a drubbing when forced to follow on against New Buckenham:

New Buckenham 77. Hethersett 14 and 4!

The year 1893 saw the "old enemy" Wymondham once again in the ascendancy... and to some tune

Wymondham 216-5 declared, Hethersett 49 to which F. R. Deacon contributed 24.

With regard to the sparsity of records for the long period we have so far covered - and not to mention the doleful nature of many of them, it seems desirable in this context to record a statement made to the writer by the late Mr Walter Dann, whose family had long been closely associated with Hethersett Cricket Club. Commenting on the lack of reports Mr Dann said: "It's a great pity the old scorebooks have been lost; there must have been a lot of them, and they would have told quite a story; the club played a lot more matches in those days than we now know anything about and it won a good many of them as well, make no mistake of it." So why so few reports? One can only suggest that since the Press depended on receiving - not seeking - reports of village cricket matches, the Hethersett CC was notably slack in reporting its own successes. Meanwhile if other clubs were anxious to announce their victories over Hethersett - well who should blame them? It seems fairly clear in fact that around this time (1893/94), the Hethersett club was showing signs of slackness. It was recalled for instance that after a certain match they said "Old George Moore lost his temper and wanted to know what the cricket club thought it was up to." In short for "a club that's been playing longer than most", he didn't think it was doing justice to itself. Whether it was George Moore I or George II who so expressed himself, his feelings were seemingly justified. And apparently they achieved some effect too. For the two matches which we have a report for the season of 1894 were both very decided victories for Hethersett.

June 1894

Hethersett 126, Horace Laneys 33

August 1894

Hethersett 111 (Porrett 29), Costessey 37 (Porrett taking 5-5)

In June 1896 Hethersett lost to Wymondham in the second round of the Norwich Shield - Wymondham 116, Hethersett 68.

In July matters took a turn for the better -

Hethersett 157, Memorial Hall, Norwich 53

Hethersett 159-5 dec, YMCA Norwich 101

Hethersett 179 Cringleford 53

A reverse took place in August against Bracon Ash

Bracon Ash 145, Hethersett 50

But pride was restored when the following week the following result was achieved

Hethersett 119, Memorial Hall, Norwich 56

Even so "things were not what they should have been" with Hethersett CC. Older men recall a time in the days of Henry Black when "men were expected to keep up to scratch by practising." And so, at the turn of the century, this rule was re-established and sternly applied. A young man who witnessed the adoption of this policy was Fred Dodman, o whom it would later be said: "he was a good little 'n - a marvel at cover point and a tricky customer with the bat." In after years it would be Fred's proud boast that he "only ever dropped two catches at cover point." Meanwhile he was happy to contribute his share to the "new blood" it was thought the club required when at about 21 he was selected to play for it. He was well aware that "the club had some of the best players you could find anywhere in village cricket; and it always did have, before my time." But the trouble was that "some of them would play for other clubs as well." So some form of discipline was once again imposed by the Hethersett Club. This entailed among things, practises two evenings a week. Wednesday and Friday, participation being essential on the part of any man who wanted to feature in the team. This, we are assured, "made a lot of difference ... though lamentably we have no reports to prove it.

An excerpt from the magazine of July 1903 provides a list of the club's members at that time. They were - W.H. Back (President), E. H Evand-Lombe (Vice President), F.A. Bainbridge (VP), T. Warren-Saxby (VP), Rev J. Still (VP), G. E. Deacon MD (VP), J. Mills (VP), Col H.B. Jacobs, W. Childs (Captain), F. Dodman (Vice Captain), J. Aldborough, W. Blake, W. Back, H.W. Childs, E. Dann, J. Harvey, T. Moore, E. Smith. G. Moore (Treasurer), W.N. Buckingham (Secretary).

The fixture list published for that year featured 15 matches to be played between June 6th and September 12th. In addition to such established names as Wymondham, Attleborough, Mulbarton and Swardeston, the list contained those of Norwich Teachers' Eleven, New City Eleven and Norwich Corporation Officials. But in point of fact, Hethersett actually arranged 20 matches for that season, the added ones being against Carrow, Norman and Beards and Bracondale School. Whilst we lack records of these matches, we are at least able to quote the Parish Magazine's summary of Hethersett's performance for that season.

Season 1903 - Matches won 11, matches lost 4, matches scratched 4, matches rained off 1 (a good summer evidently).

Season 1904 - matches won 9, matches lost 6, matches scratched 4 (no rain).

Still things were warming up "We regarded it as a duty" recalled Fred Dodman "to have a well trained team ... a team worth watching." At the head of the team stood W. Childs, a young man of forceful character, a first class bowler and indeed an all rounder. Another all rounder was Herbert Moore. Further intensive practice was called for to be "taken as seriously as any match." It was said that Wally Childs "put everything into a game of cricket and he expected everybody else to do the same, and they did." The following brief reports testify to the fact. Where not prefaced with the character A, matches were home games.

Season 1905

A May 6th Hethersett defeated Keswick by 9 wickets, Childs taking 8-8.
May 13th Hethersett 74, Bracondale School 127. Childs took 804 in 12 overs.
May 18th CEYMS A 101 Hethersett 97 - Dann 37, Moore 20 not out
A June 3rd Hethersett defeated Hningham. Hethersett 112 -E. Dann 59 not out
A June 8th Hethersett 41 Thorpe (two innings) total 29. Note- in this match Hethersett played with only nine men, whilst Thorpe's full team included Gibson, the Norfolk Professional. H. Moore for Hethersett performed the hat-trick.
A June 15th Thursday Junior Cup semi-final against CEYMS A. Match drawn because of rain but Childs took 7-54 whilst Bainbridge for Hethersett carried his bat for 40.
A June 17th Hethersett 125 - Childs 56, Mulbarton 12! Moore took 4-4 whilst Chlds performed a hat-trick in taking the remainder.
A June 22nd TCJ semi final replay. CEYMS 109, Hethersett 63
A June 24th Hethersett 94 (Dodman 33). Gothics Lakenham 36
A June 26th Hethersett 196 (Childs 57, H. Moore 43). Norman and Beards 47 (Childs 5-20)
A June 27th Return match against Norman and Beards drawn because of rain. Hethersett scored 151-8, H. Moore making 50 of them.
A August 8th Hethersett 68, Wymondham 55 (Childs 5-17)
A August 31st Norwich Union 91, Hethersett 163 (Dodman making 51 and R.G. Pilch 92).
 

The R.G Pilch mentioned above was of course a member of the family which produced Fuller Pilch. Although not a regular player, he appeared several times for Hethersett. It was he who in later years said: "he had never known a village team that took cricket more seriously than Hethersett did."

No doubt that statement had an element of truth. In the meantime some sound batting, backed by an exceptional standard of bowling was achieving practical results. The five leading batsmen of that season (1905) were

H. Moore:     Runs 576    Highest Score  60      Average 20.57

E. Dann:      Runs 233     Highest Score 59 not Average 13.23

F. Dodman   Runs 290     Highest Score 51      Average 13.8

W. Childs     Runs 360     Highest Score 57      Average 12.85

A. Arbor       Runs  86      Highest Score 27      Average 12.28

 

But the foregoing does not wholly reflect the story of the 1905 season. Some confusion is created by virtue of the Club running two teams - The Saturday and Thursday Elevens. Thus, a more comprehensive picture is provided by a newspaper report of 1905 disclosing the following:-

 

"Hethersett had a successful season. Thirty-Seven matches were arranged and 27 won, seven being lost and three drawn. One resulted in a tie and five were scratched. The Saturday Eleven did not lose a match. The Thursday Eleven won eight and lost seven (their mathematics, not ours).

 

It was also reported that during the season W. Childs and Moore II each took over 100 wickets.

 

So in one way and another the season of 1905 was "a very successful one for Hethersett Cricket Club." What better way to celebrate the 50th anniversary? Only one thing was missing, but that too would be taken care of the following season!