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Hethersett Cricket Club - A History


Full Pitch

By  A.J.R. Harris

At the Annual General Meeting of the Club in April 1906 there took place a light-hearted exchange which was to be remembered in the context of later developments. After listening to the stirring report of last season's all-round performance, president Mr Back voiced mild regret that the club had failed to cap its 50th birthday by not winning the coveted Norwich Junior Cup.

"Well we're going to win that this year," announced Wally Childs the Captain. 

"Have you got a word for that, Wally? someone asked waggishly. "Yes" affirmed the Captain. "It only needs the rest of you to be as good as my word."

And so they proved to be! Though fortunes varied with respect to regular matches, when it came to playing for the N.J. Cup Hethersett we are told "was dead set on winning that cup come what may." The result of the First Round set the tone. 

Norwich Junior Cup: First Round at Lakenham May 24th, 1906. Hethersett signally defeated GPO, Norwich, by a margin of 109 runs. Of GPOs wickets W. Childs took 6-26 and Moore H 4-14 dismissing them for a total of 46 runs. Hethersett's score was 152, H. Arber making 55 not out, the highest score of the match.

NJ Second Round played at Hethersett on June 24th, 1906. Hethersett encountered Yarmouth Temple when the home team won by 69 runs. Hethersett 115, the highest score being H.W Back's 28. Yarmouth Temple were all out for 46, H. Moore taking 5-22 and Childs 4-24

In the event Hethersett were to meet the stalwarts of YMCA, Norwich, in the final of the cup. But meanwhile in a regular match against them they had been defeated by a matter of two runs, the scoreline reading

YMCA 158, Hethersett 156 (most of these made by Messrs Dodman, Claxton, Dann and Moore.

June 28th 1906 at Hethersett

Hethersett 126-6 (Hosefall 68), CEYMS 71 (H. Moore 7-25)

Yet in the same month, Hethersett suffered defeat at the hands of both Bracondale School and Ketteringham - and that despite Porrett for Hethersett taking a total of 14 wickets for 54 in the two matches.

In view of this, Hethersett's chances in the final of the NJ Cup may have been rated as rather low - and that despite the decisive victory over CEYMS A team. However, the club had its own views on the matter. On the evening before the match and as the teams dispersed after some practice, someone (thought to be Edward Dann) said to Herbert Moore as he made his way to the Queen's Head "I'm going for a drink Herbert, but if we don't win that b------- cup I'll never have another." Herbert Moore must have taken this threat to heart as witness the EDPs report on the match.

Norwich YMCA v Hethersett

The successful career of the YMCA team received a somewhat unexpected check yesterday when Hethersett defeated them in the final round for the Thursday Junior Cup by 63 runs. Porrett and Dodman gave Hethersett a good start by scoring 51 runs in half an hour for the first wicket. Dann, Childs, Dawson and P. Curson contributed useful scores and with the help of 17 extras, a good total of 136 was ultimately reached. Of the YMCA bowlers, Skingley was disappointing, but Ames secured 6-51. The YMCA batting broke down badly before the bowling of Moore, who took the last nine wickets for 30, a fine performance which went a long way to winning the match. Cox was the only man to punish the bowling and his 30 included one 5, five 4s and two 2s. Prior to yesterday the YMCA had won every match in which their teams had taken part and the club enjoyed the distinction of being in the finals of both the Thursday and Saturday competitions. Hethersett were congratulated upon their victory and the trophy was presented to them by Dr Wheeler.

R. Porrett b Ames 22
F. Dodman b Bugden 30
E. Dann Run Out 16
A. Arber b Skingley 4
H. W. Back b Ames 0
W. Childs c Cook b Ames 22
H. Moore c Skingley b Ames 0
W. Dawson c Read b Ames 12
P. Curson c Skingley b Ames 13
F. Curson lbw b Bugden 0
H.H. Childs Not Out 0
Extras 17
Total 136
W. A. Cook b Childs 1
P. Hatch b Moore 5
S. Ames b Moore 7
A. Hart c Back b Moore 1
T. G. Skingley b Moore 2
J. Cog c Back b Moore 30
A. Farrow c Dann b Moore 7
R. Muir Not Out 8
J. Bugden b Moore 1
F. Read c Arber b Moore 0
C. Cook b Moore 3
Extras 8
Total 73

It must indeed have been a shock to YMCA to have their well deserved prestige so decisively lowered. But for Hethersett it was a unique occasion in more ways than one. Not only had they won the Cup for the first time, but it was also the first occasion a village Club had achieved the distinction, the cup having previously remained in the hands of the town clubs.

It is also worthy of note that Childs and Moore bowled consistently throughout the series, no other bowlers being used by Hethersett at any time during them. They were almost a team by themselves!

Hethersett the parish was jubilant "You'd have thought we've beaten Australia" as Fred Dodman recalled. Congratulations poured in upon the team, a large photograph of which, it was decided, should be hung in the Old School.

As reported by the Parish magazine: "The club together with friends and neighbours met for tea and a social gathering at the Queen's Head, when an enjoyable evening was spent.." and not in tea drinking we may safely assume!

But to such junketing we must not attribute the fact that, despite a highly successful and memorable season, Hethersett Cricket Club found its financial resources reduced to an all time low of one penny in hand! In fact considerable sums had been expended on equipment including sight screens, Moreover in those slow thinking and leisurely days the Club not only published Fixture Cards but also invested in posters to advertise matches both at home and in the neighbouring villages. "Keen?" said Fred Dodman, recalling those days "Bor we were as hot as mustard pie! If you want to talk cricket, come to Hethersett, we'd say. Why even Wymondham gave us a cheer."

So season followed season. In 1907 Mr H. Back, grandson of the club's founder, became captain. Again in 1908 under his captaincy and after defeating Yarmouth RA by 99 runs (Hethersett 157 - H. L. Horsfall 83) the Club again reached the final of the Norfolk J Cup - again in opposition to the YMCA. This time, however, the tables were turned, though much to the surprise of some people, according to the report in the Eastern Daily Press: 10/7/1908

"At Lakenham yesterday, Norwich YMCA obtained an unexpected easy victory over Hethersett. The latter batted first, but did little against the bowling of Ames (3-31) and Skingley (5-24) which was backed up by some smart catching behind the wicket. Hethersett's total was passed for the loss of one wicket and when stumps were drawn, the YMCA had obtained 193-6 wickets, Gowing and Cox adding 68 for a fourth wicket partnership."

Hethersett made a total of 57 runs, the score for the individual batsmen were as follows: F. Dodman 7, E. Dann 12, F.A Bainbridge 0, H.L. Horsfall 6, H.W. Back 0, H. Moore 5, W.J. Childs 1, R.A. Dodman 0, R. Porrett 6, Extras 20

The results of other matches at that time were as follows:

16/7/1908 at Hethersett

Hethersett 115-7 (Porrett 52). Empire Press 43


Morley 66 and 80-0 declared. Hethersett 81 and 68-6 (H. Back 47 and 35)

Later a comparative newcomer to the team Mr E. Oakley performed a remarkable feat of bowling against Attleborough as recounted by the following two newspaper reports:

Hethersett v Attleborough

"Played at Hethersett on Saturday and resulting in a win for the home team by 113 runs. Although the home side compiled a total (for eight wickets) of 122, the visitors failed to reach double figures due to the admirable bowling of Childs and Oakley, the former taking five wickets for 1 run and the latter four for 8. Gowing (the Church footballer) batted well as also did Church and Jacob. This after a win over Wymondham the previous week shows that Hethersett is going strong. The scores are as follows.

D. Whitty c Gaymer b Manthorpe 1
F. Dodman b Jay 2
H. Church c Manthorpe b Jay 17
R. Porrett c Bousfield b Sidewell 5
H.W. Back c Lack b Sidewell 5
R. Jacob Run  Out 16
A. Gowing c Gaymer b Manthorpe 46
G.G. Richardson b Jay 9
W. Childs c and b Jay 0
E. Oakley Not Out 12
A. Blake Not Out 3
Extras 6
Total 122
A. Bousefield lbw b Oakley 1
G. R. Watling b Oakley 2
R. Lack st Blake b Oakley 0
G. Petley b Oakley 0
W.C. Gaymer b Childs 5
W. Cant b Childs 0
W. Manthorpe b Childs 0
H. Foster b Childs 0
A. J. Jay c Blake b Childs 0
H. Kivan Not Out  1
W. Sidewell absent 0
Extras 0
Total 9

Of the same match, another report had this to say:

"A wonderful feat of bowling was accomplished on Saturday at Hethersett in a match between the local team and Attleborough." The latter were all out for 9 runs and of that number W.C Gaymer scored 5. Childs and Oakley were the bowlers and their figures are worth reading. They read as follows.


Overs Maidens Runs Wickets
W. Childs 10.4 10 1 5
E. Oakley 11 7 6 4


When speaking of that match some 40 years later, Mr H.W. Back, who played in it, still felt able to say he had "never seen a better exhibition of good class bowling. Attleborough was a team with strong players, like Gaymer, but I don't think many county players would have taken any chances with the bowling of Childs and Oakley on that day. W. C. Gaymer incidentally was a member of the cider-making family of that name and "he was a mean hand as a batsman."

Small wonder a well-known Wymondham man (the late Mr Clarke, shopkeeper of that town), when recalling cricket of his youth, was able to affirm "I remember they used to say that Hethersett was never short of top notch bowlers."

Still the team always had its notable batsmen too. And in this context we may record here that, in the previous year, in a special match played at Old Buckenham, Fred Dodman made the highest score of his career - 86. But more of that later in another context.