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Hethersett Cricket Club - A History

The Follow On

By  A.J.R. Harris

It is curious to reflect that whilst Norfolk is regarded, in terms of historical documentation as "one of the best recorded counties in England" its natives display a casual indifference to the preservation of records concerning their own history. Hence, it is not surprising, though regrettable, that even a cricket-conscious parish like Hethersett has "mislaid" the records of its cricket club. This is no reflection upon the Club's many past secretaries. Even the best of them must pass on to leave his records in the hands of other people. In short, it seems a classic instance of leaving matters to be dealt with by "the other fellow" - that half mystical character who, if he exists at all, didn't seek the responsibility in the first place!

Thus it is that for the period 1910-1914 we are again faced with a lamentable gap in the story of Hethersett Cricket Club. All we have is a few chance newspaper reports, plus what we learn from the ubiquitous grapevine which at least assures us that "plenty of cricket was being played in Hethersett in those years." And some of the matches played were those significantly described as specials for one reason or another.

One such match for instance was that in which "Teddy Dann tried to kill the bull." A wild exaggeration in fact, it is nevertheless a story which warrants being recorded here... and that we hope without giving offence to anyone. Life is life and cricket is cricket and... so what? It was during an away match that Teddy Dann, a notable hard-hitter, drove a ball so hard that it struck a bull which was contemplating proceedings from over a fence. The animal suffered no harm whatsoever. But honour resided in the fact that Mr Dann was, by trade a butcher, this leading to the crack that he was "trying to mix business with his cricket." Thus to make more of the incident the owner of the bull duly presented Mr Dann with a bill, claiming recompense for "a bull that died from having one ball too many!"

Another special of that period was a match played at Old Buckenham against a team of very experienced cricketers one of whom was Fielder, who bowled for Kent CC. Hethersett lost the match, though Dodman knocked 49 ("and that was something against Fielder!") and Teddy Dann "hit the ball out of the ground with the biggest hit that he ever made." Dodman's was a captain's innings. For W. Childs wasn't playing that day. But Fred, in after years, would be happy to recall how "Fielder came and told me he was sorry Mr Childs wasn't playing because he'd heard what a good bowler he was."

To judge from what reports we do have for 1913, the season must have been a reasonably good one for the Club. The files of the Eastern Daily Press yield the following information.

May 31st, 1913 at Colney: Hethersett 161 (W. Chlds 29; E. Childs 77 not out), Colney 61 (E. Childs 7-29)

June 6th at Hethersett: Hethersett 108 (E. Childs 31 not out), Cringleford 26 (B. Ward 7-8).

July 6th at Norwich: Hethersett 150 (E. Dann 104 not out. P. Curson 15), Inland Revenue 54.

August 13th at Hethersett: Colney United 77, Hethersett 78 (E. Dann 55 not out).

All in all then, at the AGM held in April 1914, Hethersett were able to look back on a satisfactory season for the previous year. And to celebrate the fact that the "kitty" held the unprecedented sum of £2 1s, left over from that season! So with confident anticipation, the club looked forward to fulfilling a fixture list containing such names as Colney, Wymondham, Empire Press (Norwich), City Asylum, Morley and, as usual, the redoubtable YMCA (Norwich).

Yet all we can record of that season of 1914 is that "some of the matches were never played," and that the one played against YMCA on the 1st August was the last played by Hethersett (as with many another village club in effect) for several years. For three days later, war was declared. Within four months, nearly 50 of Hethersett's young men were already serving in the Forces. And that figure would be increased by more than half within a few more months. Cricket became merely a subject to dream and talk about, as some relief from pressing employments of a far less rational nature.

But the tradition and its spirit survived. So much so that when early in the Spring of 1919, the parish of Hethersett set about the task of "getting back to normal" the revival of cricket was regarded as being some minor contribution to that process. The Parish Magazine reported on a happy note: "At a well attended meeting in the Old Schoolroom on April 29th, it was decided to restart the Cricket Club" with H. W. Back as President, the Vice-Presidents being Captain Matthews, G.E. Deacon, Rev F. Jarvis, Miss Raikes, Mrs Ransome, J.A. Boswell, F.A. Bainbridge, Major E. H Evans-Loombe, H.W. Back, F. W. Doggett, W.H. Buckingham and W.J. Sadd (it will be noted that for the first time on record the club featured lady members).

Fred Dodman was appointed captain, supported by Mr E. Dann as vice-captain whilst Mr George Moore (Old George II) was reaffirmed as groundsman and treasurer with Mr G.H. Salter as secretary, Messrs W. Childs, J. Read, E. Smith, P. Curson, H.W. Back, F.A Bainbridge and W.H. Buckingham comprised the committee.

Immediate practice was called for and arranged. It was further decided to "play a few games as the strength of the club increased." In fact a few games had already been arranged, the first of them being against Wymondham to be played on Whit Monday.

Nor was this all. Soberly aware of the toll taken by the late war and how another generation was springing up without benefit of cricket, for the first time in its history, the club opened its doors to the Junior members under the age of 16, "a special welcome was expressed to all boys keen on the game," they being promised expert tuition by our worthy captain. Fees were fixed at 2s 6d for Seniors and 1s 6d for Junior members. Moreover War Bonds would be accepted as payment!

It was on this occasion too that Dr Deacon (quoted verbally) stirringly reminded the club that "Hethersett has a long and worthy tradition, one which must never be allowed to die."

When recalling that immediate post-war season of 1919, Fred Dodman would dryly reflect "as I remember we weren't all that good. Lot of ground to make up. Still I can tell you we beat Wymondham." But after all that season was scarcely more than one of intense practice and muscle flexing, so that in April 1920 G.H (Pa) Salter was able to announce (via the Parish Magazine) "Cricket will soon again be in full swing - and if the number present at our last meeting held on March 11th is anything to go by, we are in for a prosperous season... The juniors, who were present in full force, elected G. Kerrison as their captain and W. Dann as vice-captain, and it is hoped to arrange a series of matches for the Bainbridge Cup of which our juniors are the present holders... It is hoped to start practice in early April, due notice of which will be posted in the village."

With respect to the matter of posting notices in the village, it is worth recording that, until the advent of World War I, Hethersett Cricket Club had long been accustomed to publicising forthcoming matches by printed posters, these being exhibited not only in the village itself but also in neighbouring parishes.

The potential exhibited by the Juniors in response to the kind of training they received was to be reflected in future years. Meantime we may take note of young W. Dann (i.e Walter Dann). The third generation to play for Hethersett, his grandfather, another Walter, having performed in the early days, young Walter was to blossom into "a first class cricketer", Besides captaining the East Norfolk Cricket Club, he was also to play for Norfolk County. Yet somehow he would still find time to make appearances for Hethersett.

Not surprisingly so soon after a decimating war, the season of 1920 was not a full one. "Only five real matches were played." One of these was against Wattlefield, which Hethersett were all the happier to win because "a lot of the Wattlefield team were really Wymondham players.

May 8th, 1920 at home: Hethersett 65, Besthorpe 25

May 22nd, 1920 at home: Hethersett 125-5 dec, Norwich Police 33

June 6th, 1920 at Lakenham Second Round of NJ Cup: Boulton and Paul 86, Hethersett 33.

June 1920 at home: Hethersett 118 (J. Read senior 45), Wattlefield 35 and 24.

August 21st 1920 at Hellesdon: Hethersett 64 (J. Read senior 24 not), Hellesdon Hospital 107.

Among the players now, and in some cases, still playing for the club were: B. Ringer, G. Salter (known as Pa Salter), H. Moore, E. Childs, L. Claxton, R. Hickling, R. Quantrill, W. Childs, P. Curson, S. Haining and, just beginning to show his paces, the aforementioned Walter Dann.

And of course there were the Reads: two of them each with the initial J .. the reason why the elder of them was known in cricketing circles as "PA2Read." Both father and son were exceptionally good bowlers. Some evidence of the former's prowess as a bowler is afforded by Mr J. S. Penny; one time official scorer for Civil Service (Norwich).. a club which later under the captaincy of Michael Trueshaw adopted the name "Mallards". Originally formed in 1921, in the course of the following nine years, it played 16 matches against Hethersett of which the following is a brief but illuminating summary:-

1921 June 4th (NJ Cup) - Hethersett 110-6 dec, Civil Service 63.

1922 May 6th - Civil Service 136 Hethersett 33

August 19th - Civil Service 104, Hethersett 56

1923 June 16th - Hethersett 136, Civil Service 47

July 14th - Civil Service 131, Hethersett 133-5

1924 May 17th - Hethersett 96, Civil Service 29 (R. Hickling 6-19)

1925 May 23rd - Hethersett 75 Civil Service 63

June 12th - Hethersett 88 Civil Service 80 (Pa Read 6-42)

1926 May 15th Hethersett 32 Civil Service 46 (Read 6-42)

June 17th Hethersett 134 Civil Service 192 (Read 7-62)

1927 June 4th Hethersett 62, Civil Servce 39 (Read 7-17)

July 23rd Civil Service 145 Hethersett 146-6

1928 July 7th Civil Service 93 Hethersett 44

August 11th Hethersett 143 Civil Service 24 (Read 6-16)

1929 August 31st Hethersett 97 Civil Service 101 (Read 7-37)

1930 June 21st Hethersett 125 Civil Service 77

One conclusion too readily drawn from the above is that Hethersett's bowling was more consistent than its batting. But it would be false, since it takes no account of the opposition's good bowlers. Nevertheless Pa Read was widely esteemed for his bowling. Yet he was no cut-a-dash bowler. He was in fact described as "a steady slow bowler, but a real cunning one." Furthermore it was said of him (to quote in full) that "his trickery would get a batsman in such a flummox, the fellow wouldn't know whether to wave his bat or dig a bloody hole with it."

But of course many other matches were played during those years we have just rapidly surveyed. Of some, though lamentably not many, we have record. In this context we may note that, from time to time, Hethersett played Bracondale School. These matches were regarded as "Specials". The more so since the school had a name for the quality of its cricket, particularly during the early 20s when one of its brightest hopes was a boy named Bill Edrich. Hethersett players had reason to note that young man's propensities not only with the bat but also for the way that he would run between the wickets. As Fred Dodman would recall "that boy Edrich was that hungry for runs, I remember how he once threw his pads off, so he could run quicker."

That may have been the occasion in July 1925 when Bracondale made 127 against Hethersett's 72 of which 36 were made by C. Cann. Hethersett didn't think much of that, but ragained their self esteem when a week later they trounced their traditional rivals, Wymondham

July 18th, 1925 at Wymondham Hethersett 168 (LeGrice 26, C. Cann 37, Pa Read 24), Wymondham 91 (Pa Read 8-24).

But a week later Hethersett took a hammering from CEYMS the score line reading CEYMS 145 Hethersett 59 and that despite Reg Hickling bowling like a demon to take five of the opposition wickets. But priode was solaced when, in August, a match against Attleborough (another traditional rival) resulted in the following scoreline Hethersett 81 (H. Fulwood 23), Attleborough 76.

Young hopefuls fresh from the mint of the Junior Team now began to feature prominently in the Major Team namely:- G. Watling, K. Ward, Ralph Summer, G. Kerrison, W. Howard, K. Pope and W. Clarke being new names found in the list. H. Fulwood mentioned above, though local by virtue of residence hailed from the Shires, being a member of a Nottinghamshire cricketing family. 

It was in this year too, it may be noted, that Mr e (Teddy) Dann died. His death as £friend, member and one time player of the club was felt as a great loss.” It was said of him “He was an all-rounder and in all the matches he ever played for Hethersett, he never once dropped a catch.” 

Though records are scant, the season of 1926 was reported as “a very good one for the Club.” The three following reports (all we have) seem to support this belief:- 

1926 August: Hethersett 135 (R. Summers 30, F. Dodman 37) Yarmouth 62 (R. Summers 5-15).

Wymondham 53 (Read 8-24), Hethersett 54 (C. Cann 21) 

It is believed, for we have no actual record for it, that this was the season in which “Reg Hickling got the hat-trick against Wymondham.” 

So again, season followed season, and, as with all cricket clubs, Hethersett’s fortunes fluctuated. There were some (as there always are!) who felt “the Club would never again be what it had been”. And so as if to prove the error of this judgement, Hethersett won the Norfolk Junior Cup once again beating a strong Yarmouth Team in the Final. The year was 1929. The occasion was one for great rejoicing when a social evening was held in the Village Hall and later, a well-attended dinner took place at the Old Greyhound Inn… the pub which had witnessed so much of early cricket at Hethersett. At that dinner, Mr George Salter (Pa) reviewed the history of the club back to the 1850s whilst Dr Deacon (by letter) did likewise, not neglecting to mention the astonishing score of 695 made against MCC in 1888 by a Norfolk team “made up chiefly by those who played regularly for Hethersett.” (And he Dr Deacon had watched the match). 

Spirits were further warmed by the announcement that young Walter Dann, a star member of the club, had been selected to play for Norfolk County. 

So the club continues its story and, although records evade us and it would be fruitless to cite them all if we had them… we hear of young “all rounders like Ralph Summers”, the contribution still made by members of the Childs’ family, of how J. Read could still take 5 wickets for 33, not forgetting Fred Dodman… still carrying his bat after 30 years of playing for the club! 

The following are listed as players for the period under review:- H. Childs, F. Dodman, J. White, R. Wright, R. Summers, H. Fulwood, J. Hodge, J. Read, J. Thraxton, M. Wadsley, E. Bishop, R. Johnson, V. Rule, R. Childs, G. Bishop, L. Thraxton, W. Howard. H. Quantrill, P. Huggins, R. Johnson, R. Bailey. Familiar names feature in that list. Others such as Moore, Curson and Hickling are missing. Yet in due time they would re-appear. Tradition and the lure of the game would see to that… 

So in the year 1939, which brought the club a reasonably good season, of the seven matches reported, Hethersett won five. We must record, however, that Fred Dodman upon “thinking back” stated: “We must have played about 15 games but we won most of them, because I know we had a good season.” 

1939 May Hethersett 158-7 Hellesdon Hospital 131

May Kimberly Park 124 Hethersett 64

June: Poringland 121 Hethersett 111 (W.Howard 20)

July: Hethersett 176 (H. Wright 69, J. White 20) , Wymondham 73

July: Hethersett 104-8 dec (r. Wright 39), County Police 71 (M.Wadsley 6-34)

July Hethersett 81 (R. Wright 26) Mulbarton 62

August: Hethersett 68 (L. Salter 29), Norvics 38 (P.Huggins 5-15, Wadsley 5-20) 

By the time that last game was played, several of Hethersett’s younger hopes were already donning a uniform not intended for cricket. For another era had ended, as war once again took priority over less offensive pursuits.