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Hethersett Cricket Club - A History

Hundred Up

By  A.J.R. Harris

With the war over, though still casting its shadow, the urge was “to get back to normal”. As some modest contribution to this process, the resurgence of cricket was essential. For Hethersett, however, that resurgence was not aided by the fact that its once-celebrated cricket ground, having become a victim of the need to “dig for victory”, was no longer available. Although four generations of cricketers had played on that ground and a fifth was waiting in the wings, this was a blow. Still, cricket had to be played. Many young hopefuls such as Jack Hickling were demanding it, being fully supported by their elders, including Fred Dodman, Walter Dann, Mr Childs, H.W. Back and Ralph Summers (by this time Landlord of the Queen’s Head). 

And so, even as early as 1946, it was found possible to play at least six matches. Although we have no reports of those matches, we are able to state that each one of them helped re-establish Hethersett’s reputation for having good bowlers as instance the following.. 

Hethersett v Ketteringham: R. Farmer for Hethersett 5-6

Hethersett v Ketteringham (return match) R. Wright for Hethersett 4-14

Hethersett v Hardingham: C. Dawson for Hethersett 7-4

Hethersett v Yarmouth: V. Rule for Hethersett 8-27

Hethersett v Wymondham M. Wadsley 5-18. 

As for the ground to play on.. well it was back to the meadows again! But finally the problem was resolved when Mr Matthew Harrison of White Hall Farm, generally granted the use of a suitable meadow at Kett’s Oak, where much work was down to establish the pitch on which the club was to play for many years. 

Thus by 1949 Hethersett Cricket Club had once more got a firm hold upon the threads of its history, the further weaving of which was now very much in the hands of young sprigs like Dennis Snowling (Captain), D. Johnson (Vice-Captain), Duncan Pigg, Kenny Swan, G. Moore (another George), E. Charlish and Jack Hickling (son of Reg Hickling). The following year saw the team further augmented by J. Ayton and Peter Harris. And very soon the name Curson would re-appear in the lists in the person of Tony Curson who was later to serve the club as captain over a long period. 

Needless to say whatever their potential and the experience gained on school playing fields, those youngsters received considerable help, advice and encouragement from the older players who “had learned a thing or two about playing village cricket.” They were, for example, jealously watched over by the dryly critical Fred Dodman: for none more anxious than he to see “the club get back to what it was when I was young.” 

The ensuing five years – 1950 to 1955 – were attended by the usual fluctuations of cricketing fortunes for the club. This is well illustrated by the following summary, which also serves to highlight some of the players and the manner they contributed to those fortunes. 

In the season 1950 in a match played against Morley, Ken Swann performed the hat-trick. An “extremely fast bowler” Swann was also a sound bat and a first class man in the field. In short an all-rounder, an “invaluable asset to any team.” Unfortunately, however, his duties as village constable prevented him from playing as regularly as he would have wished. The pity of this is evident in the fact that, in the matches he did take part in, he took 89 wickets at an average of 6.34 runs. 

Yet another Hethersett all-round at the time was Dennis Snowling. Although not a stylish batsman, he was nevertheless “solid” and was always at his best against fast bowling. Sometime Captain of the team, he was also a very useful slow bowler being “an expert at the full toss.” During his career with the club he took 192 wickets for an average of 6.17 runs. When playing against Barford in 1950 “he took four astonishing catches in one innings.” 

In that same season, young Jack Hickling, batting against the bowling of Barford, carried his bat for 54 runs. A rock-like batsman, nothing much ever disturbed Jack,  who could be depended to doggedly hold his end up, besides which he could step in as a useful bowler when needed. Equally dependable in the field, he was said to have “a safe pair of hands.” 

In a game against Saxlingham in 1952, Duncan Pigg and D. Mullins made a last wicket stand of 63. Duncan was Hethersett’s very capable wicketkeeper and would be for a long number of years, but more than once “pulled something out of the bag when batting.” 1952 was also the season when, in a drawn match against Little Melton, young George Moore (the Fourth) took 5 wickets for 6 runs whilst W (Bill) Symonds took four catches in the same innings. 

Bill Symonds (who serves as Captain 1953-5) was yet another all-rounder. As a batsman he was very stylish, quick, unruffled and hard-hitting, whilst his wrist-work was something to note and admire. With apparently no more effort than required to brush off a fly, Bill could, by a mere flick of his wrists, send a ball careering to the boundary”. Though his own career with the club was relatively brief and he was not always available, he scored 1,303 runs and took 190 wickets at an average of 6.27. As a bowler he was fast medium. 

Dennis Snowling was another stylish batsman, by some thought to the “the best.” Hard drives were as typical of him as was the speed at which he could score runs. As a medium-paced bowler, he was noted for his unflagging stamina and the 129 wickets he took for an average of 6.38 runs. 

In 1953, when playing against Morgans (Norwich), W. Symonds and K. Blazey won the match for Hethersett with a seventh wicket stand for 37 runs made at “lightening speed.” 

In the return match, Symonds took 7-19. 

And in the same season Hethersett soundly defeated CWS (Norwich) when P. Harris took 7-9, bowling four maidens in the process. 

Peter Harris, as noted, was one of several youngsters who eagerly responded to the traditions of Hethersett Cricket Club and, like them, glorified in the opportunities the club offered for “cricket lovely cricket!” During the decade 1949/59 he was credited with “taking more wickets than any other bowler”. The total being 498 with an average of 5.84. Though a hard-hitter, he then showed distinction as a batsman, but nonetheless contrived to make 730 runs during the period. “A good man to have in the field” he was also later to serve as Captain for two seasons. 

In a match against Spooner Row in 1955, D. Snowling and Tony Curson made a record second wicket score of 52, Snowling then carrying his bat for 57 out of a total of 150-7. The opposition was defeated by 9 wickets due to some “cracking bowling from Hethersett.” 

In a return match at Spooner Row, a similar result was achieved, whilst in a third match (gluttons for punishment Spooner Row) Bill Symonds took 6 wickets for 16 runs. 

The season also saw Hethersett “pull one back from Wymondham” when the former won by 8 wickets, the latter being bowled out for 39. In response, Hethersett knocked up 41-1 in record time, Dennis Snowling carrying his bat for half that score. Shortly before this in a match against Braconash, victory had been more or less assured when Tony Curson took four wickets in one over. 

That year, 1955, should of course have been a celebration of Hethersett Club’s centenary. But it didn’t, the reason being the uncertainty (not unmixed with a measure of indifference) prevailing about the club’s beginnings. Nevertheless there were one or two people who felt the time had come to draw off the covers, as it were, and expose the historical “wicket”. This would be done though meanwhile. 1960 was nominated as the year for the celebrations because as someone said “even if we’re wrong, at least we are erring on the right side.” 

Meanwhile, too, cricket went on, the season of 1956 bringing a sound defeat at the hands of Wymondham, Hethersett losing by 5 wickets. Yet that same season saw Tony Curson play a fine innings against a club called “Cherry Trees”. In a match against Barford, J. Smith took 6-8 in 5.2 overs, whilst against Briton Brush, Peter Harris took 7-10 in 9 overs. 

Highlights of 1957 were Dennis Johnson’s hat-trick against Norwich and Norfolk Hospital, his analysis being 6-9 and the first wicket stand by Tony Curson and Peter Harris against Boddy’s at Eaton Park. The averages for that season were as follows.

Season 1957 - Played 33, Won 11, Drawn 3, Lost 19

Runs scored 1632 for 304 wickets (5.36 runs/wicket)

Runs against 2269 for 295 wickets (7.69 runs/wicket)

BATTING AVERAGES (Qualification five completed innings)

Name Runs Inn HS NO Ave Catches
A. Curson 348 30 56 2 12.42 6
J. Hickling 59 6 23 - 9.83  
E. Charlish 52 6 21 - 8.66  
D. Snowling 91 13 31 - 7.00 7
P. Harris 208 33 45 2 6.70 12
D. Brown 113 28 13 8 5.65 11
J. Thraxton 73 16 18 2 5.21 3
D. Johnson 67 13 15 - 5.15 5
D. Quantrill 81 21 21 2 4.26 7
G. Elvin 98 25 19 1 4.08 3
G. Moore 20 5 7 - 4.00 2
D. Pigg 64 23 9 3 3.20 7
J. Smith 53 24 17 5 2.78 5
L. Dixon 62 27 14 4 2.69  
R. Attoe 15 13 4 6 2.14 6
D. Burgess 20 11 7 - 1.81 4
J. Attoe 17 18 7 7 1.54 3
G. Jones 8 9 5 2 1.14 3

BOWLING AVERAGES (Qualification 10 wickets)

NAME Overs Mdns Runs Wkts Ave
D. Johnson 17 1 27 11 2.45
D. Snowling 56.5 6 147 25 5.88
G. Elvin 215.2 62 458 77 5.94
P. Harris 297.3 75 687 89 7.71
A. Curson 118 29 295 36 8.19
J. Smith 37 3 121 10 12.10
J. Thraxton 63.1 7 228 14 16.28
B. Brown 4 - 14 3  
D. Folkard 4 1 6 1  
R. Attoe 3 - 7 4  
D. Burgess 7 2 24 3  
G. Moore 5 - 16 1  
E. Charlish 4 - 21 -  
L. Dixon 1 - 6 -  
W. Symonds 4 1 17 -  

This season also saw an exciting 20 over match against Bunwell in the Knockout Tournament for the Kimberley Cup First Round. Set to pass Bunwell's score of 67, Hethersett's chances of doing so lessened markedly as wickets fell, and despite Curson's total of 30. Nevertheless Hethersett, by virtue of good running and dogged persistence reached a score of 64-8 with two balls left to be bowled, when J. Thraxton went in. Knowing so much depended on him, young Thraxton "stood up to the bowling like a good un" taking two runs off the first ball. Making no hazardous attempt to flog the last ball he "just pushed it away and scampered off down the wicket" enabling Hethersett to win.

Early in the season of 1958, Hethersett took a trouncing from Jarrolds, losing by 10 wickets at Fifers Lane. But in the return match, the tables were turned when at Hethersett, Jarrolds were themselves defeated by 9 wickets, this being due to the excellent bowling plus the batting of W. Symonds. In the same season at Hethersett, St Thomas' were signally the victims of the bowling of D. Johnson with 5-3 and Peter Harris with 4-3, they being the only bowlers used by Hethersett. Yet after such a performance the club lost heavily to Southall by 109 runs.

In short, there was a disturbing inconsistency attending the Club's performance around this period, especially with respect to the batting, despite the steady contribution made by Bill Symonds and Tony Curson.

But 1959 was to see a tightening up. More practice was insisted upon for one thing, and regular attendance for another. A tradition of the club had been its discipline and there were older, erstwhile players who saw the need for it to be re-invoked. This was in some degree responsible for the improved results in 1959.

In one of the first games of that season, a record 9th wicket stand of 32 was made by Thompson and Prentice when Morley were handsomely defeated. Shortly after that a record 8th wicket stand of 42 was made by E. Charlish and J. Attoe. The following highlights likewise reflect the improvement in the Club's performance.

v Roughton D. Snowling an opening bat, scored 67 not out in an innings totalling 147.
v Rackheath Duncan Pigg, wicketkeeper, made 5 dismissals in one innings, 3 caught and 2 stumped.
v Morley D. Snowling 7-20
v Blofield D. Johnson and A. Curson made 30 runs in 12 minutes
v Braconash In addition to scoring 29, A. Curson took 6-7 in 11 overs
v Boddys E. Charlish took 7-17, Hethersett winning by 10 wickets
v Old Buckenham Hetherett lost by 10 wickets
v Bunwell D. Johnson took 5-5, J. Ayton took 5-16. Bunwell were all out for 27
v Morley D. Johnson took 6-43 before scoring 41 of Hethersett's winning total of 86.

And finally in that season, Hethersett revenged itself on Old Buckenham with a win by 8 wickets of which D. Johnson took 7-23.

So as the post war decade drew to a close, things were looking up for Hethersett Cricket Club. It was an augury for the future as plans were now prepared for a Centenary Dinner to be held in the Church Hall.

The dinner took place on February 3rd, 1960. Attended by 70 people, some of them members of the neighbouring cricket clubs, prominent among them were Mr L. A. Barrett, Captain of Norfolk County Cricket Club from 1951-54, who proposed the toast "The Hethersett Cricket Club" and Mr E. Witherden, member and player of the Norfolk County CC. In his reply to the toast "The Visitors" Mr Witherden laid stress upon the value of village cricket. He then presented the Cup, given annually by the club to the most promising young player, to Patrick Flynn of Hethersett.

So there it was. None could question the fact that Hethersett CC had knocked up 100 and therefore warranted both celebration and compliment. But of course the actual score was 105, counting the Extras casually mislaid. But no matter, having achieved such a score, an interval is now called for.