The Cricket Section has now (2006 season onwards) amalgamated with Sinjuns CC to form Sinjuns Grammarians’ Cricket Club.
A BRIEF HISTORY
THIS PHOTOGRAPH IS BELIEVED TO BE THAT OF THE FIRST TEAM TO PLAY AS THE OLD GRAMMARIANS’ CRICKET CLUB
Standing L. to R.
Eddie Hains; ? ; ? ; ? ; George Harding (Captain); Gerry Fowler; ? ; ? ; Chic Dorey; ? .
Seated L. to R.
? : ?
In 1927 F. (Fred) Manning became captain of the Club with George Harding and Chic Dorey as officers. Although the fixture list was similar to that of the inaugural season, a good enough impression had been made such that somewhat stronger opposition started to appear on the fixture list. This progress was more than maintained as the Club went into the 1930s and, by 1933, OGCC was a member of the Club Cricket Conference and was regarded as one of the strongest Old Boys teams in the London area. Much of the credit for this swift rise was due to George Harding and Chic Dorey for their efforts both on and off the field (Dorey had already announced himself as an all-time great player in OGCC history with, the then, highest individual score of 128 in 1930, 914 runs also in 1930 and an average of 46.90 in 1927…a record even to this day) but perhaps even more credit is due to D.J. (Plummy) Morrow for his work as Match Secretary. By 1932 the Club had secured fixtures against such teams as Horsham, Indian Gymkhana, Lensbury, and the first glimpses of the Sussex tour that came later was seen by the inclusion of Littlehampton on the list. By 1934 East Molesey and Marlborough 1870 had been added in addition to several business houses and Old Boys sides. Although aided by performances on the field (plus, probably, our well known reputation for “saving the fixture”) the achievement of Plummy Morrow in securing these fixtures cannot be over estimated. Indeed, many of the fixtures that he obtained, both in this era and afterwards, lasted to the time when we started playing league cricket. As the Club went into the mid-30s the financial position also became stronger, so strong, in fact, that Chic Dorey went on record as saying that the Club had such reserves as would sustain it through a number of “losing” seasons. In 1933 Chic Dorey and Plummy Morrow were made Life Vice-Presidents of the Club.
Fred Manning was succeeded as Captain of Club by P.C. Smith and then L.G. (Leslie) Merrett…whose appointment thus forged a link with post World War II OGCC cricket. Between them, Manning and Merrett were to dominate OGCC bowling before the last war. In 1927, for instance, Manning took 38 wickets for a mere 200 runs. In 1933 Merrett took 117 wickets and, in 1935 took all ten versus Chipstead. He was also selected to play for the Conference. By 1937 Leslie Merrett had raised the bowling bar to128 wickets for a season while the batting mark had risen to 149 (by Chic Dorey). Like most records, these were eventually to be beaten but the standards being set by a Club still, relatively, in its infancy was remarkable. Furthermore, new players were emerging who would carry on this progress ; A.G. (George) Simkins, T.F.C. (Tim) Finucane, J.W. (Jack) Durham and C.W. (Charles) L’Archer to name a few. In 1937, the Club made an inaugural tour of Devon. After the declaration of war in September 1939, the AGM of the Old Grammarians’ Cricket Club on 25th April 1940 agreed that “The Club should be suspended, with all its activities, for the Duration and that all books and records be sent to Worthing for safe keeping with the Association”. When activities re-started on 6th April 1946, it was decided that the Old Grammarians’ Cricket Club and the Old Grammarians’ Football Club should merge and become the Old Grammarians’ Cricket & Football Club. Later, in 1959, it was decided to amalgamate the Club with the Old Grammarians’ Association and that the Cricket and Football Clubs be sections within the Association.
Before recording the events of the OGCC after the war, it is interesting to record just a few of the exploits of the Club in the period between 1926 and 1939. For example, the lowest score against us was 8, scored by Friern Barnet on 2nd June 1928. It may be of interest to record that Friern Barnet had gone into this game unbeaten for the season. In another match, against a club known as The Rams, our opponents had scored 312 for 4 in their previous match. However, one of our bowlers, R.C. Clarke, bowled to such good effect that he dismissed their first four batsmen without conceding a run! Then, against Clementswood, Manning and the same redoubtable Clarke bowled ten overs before a single run was scored.
There is some conjecture that the demon bowler Clarke is the same gentleman who many Old Grammarians will recall as a History teacher at BGS.
Cricket resumed in 1946 with only 27 fixtures but the season, albeit a season badly affected by the weather, produced a fine performance from George Simkins who scored 1005 runs at an average of nearly 44, a performance made all the more remarkable because, by repute, he made his runs on some pretty poor pitches. Our own ground at Burntwood Lane was still not usable due to its use by the military during the war and our playing facilities were an echo of our early days in that our matches were either “away” or at the School. However, as the forties eased into the fifties much work was carried out at Burntwood Lane; the square was re-laid and, under the guidance of Charles L’Archer the pavilion completely refurbished; both of these projects completed through the willing help of many Club members and friends
.OLD BOYS’ DAY – SATURDAY JULY 12TH. 1947
Left to Right
Back :- V.Soulal; L.J.Messenger; L.A.P.Laycock; C.A.Bowen; L.H.Hockin; L.E.Perry.
Centre :- L.N.Bartlett (V.Capt.); L.G.Merrett (Capt.); C.W.L’Archer.
Front :- J.W.Durham; A.G.Simkins; H.F.Rhodes.
Additionally, many of the cricketers mentioned earlier happily rejoined us after the conflict and all were to make an indelible mark on OG cricket in the post-war era; particularly Simkins, Durham, L’Archer and Finucane, as ever skilfully led by Merrett. However, others, including L.H. (Les) Hockin, the Messenger brothers, E. (Eric) Jelley, A.J.E. (Johnnie) Jenkin, L.A.P.H. (Les) Laycock, D.C. (Derek) Andrews, L.E. (Len) Perry, the Burdon brothers, A.G. (George) Bedford, F.H. (Freddie) Horwood, V. (Vic) Soulal, L.C. (Len) Nash and K.N. (Ken) Turner all made great contributions to OGCC during the “re-start” period and afterwards. Occasionally, we welcomed non-Old Grammarians into our ranks, usually School staff or parents; among these V. (Viv) Jones and H.G. (Bert) Garrard made significant contributions. Furthermore, cricket clubs need loyal and dedicated off-the-field help to succeed and, in this, OGCC were fortunate to have the likes of F. (Fred) Payne, S.R. (Syd) Turner and H.M. (Bert) Stanley. Also, the club was equally blessed by the support it received from the wives and lady friends of players and other members. Lunches and teas would not have been made without their help and these factors play a vital part in how the world sees a cricket club.
Further improvements were made to the pavilion, again under the guidance of Charles L’Archer, when a clubroom and bar was added in the “loft” during the winter of 1955. On completion of the work, it was officially opened by Peter May, Captain of England and Surrey on Friday 26th April 1957.
THE OFFICIAL OPENING of the CLUBROOM & BAR by PETER MAY,
CAPTAIN of ENGLAND and SURREY on FRIDAY 26th. APRIL 1957.
Les Messenger; Syd Turner; Peter May; Charles L’Archer; Walter Langford (BGS Headmaster).
Following George Simkins’ great performance in 1946, other memorable performances followed. For example; in June 1952 Jack Durham scored 309 runs in a week-end. This comprised 135 v. Oxshott on the 14th followed by 174 not out v. Ickenham the following day. In 1949 Charles L’Archer took 154 wickets at 10.19 and thus achieved a club record that lasts to this day. It should be noted that during this same season Charles did the “double” (100 wickets and 1000 runs). In addition to his exploits with the bat Jack Durham also took many wickets and, together with Leslie Merrett, these three bowlers gave OGCC a formidable bowling line-up. In the field the bowlers were aided by a wicket-keeper of extraordinary skill in Tim Finucane; furthermore, Tim was a more than useful batsman. Naturally, impressive as these performances were, the years do catch up with us all and, being an Old Boys’ club the Club looked to the School to provide good replacements at the appropriate time. It was therefore encouraging that, in his Secretary’s report at the beginning of the 1950s Les Hockin was able to record the talent just joining the club and it should be recorded how welcoming Old Grammarian cricketers were in putting BGS schoolboys at their ease and nurturing their talents. Among others, the newcomers included D.R. (Terry) Carroll, P.E.C. (Peter, aka Mac) McCarthy and J.S. (John) King. Each had success with the club, to varying degrees, but it must be said that, in John King, the club was fortunate in recruiting a batsman of rare quality and one to whom most Club batting records fell, now never to be beaten. In 1959 he had his mirabilis annus in scoring 1554 runs (the Club record) at an average of nearly 46…not quite good enough to depose Chic Dorey Also joining the Club at this time was D. (Danny) Smith who enjoyed great success with OGCC as a captain of great charm and personality. The Battersea Grammar School conveyor belt continued to produce talented cricketers for much of the remainder of its life; in the mid-50s W.H. (Bill) Hart, I. (Ian) Smith and A.B. (Allan) Palmer were to enjoy success with the Club and these players were soon followed by J.D. (John) Warren, R. (Ray) Gowan, D.G.S. (David) Garrard, R. ( (Roy) Payne, D.J. (Derek) Lawrence and M.W.W. (Mike) Selvey the latter named eventually being joined by D.M. (David) Smith as an England Test player. Whilst mentioning players who have represented the Club elsewhere it should be pointed out that Jack Durham, John Warren and S. (Saeed) Manzoor represented the Surrey Association of Cricket Clubs in their, then, annual fixture against Surrey at The Oval. And as the Cricket Section of the Old Grammarians joined their footballing brothers in 1946 it should also, perhaps, be mentioned that three of their number played international football; H.G. Yates, H.R. Barnes and C.L. Martin. Furthermore, in 1960 R.H. (Bobby) Brown (as well as being a useful cricketer) and J. (John) Martin were to represent Great Britain on the football field at the Rome Olympics. In the late 60s and early 70s no player performed at a higher level than Derek Lawrence; a player who scored well over 14,000 runs for the Club at an average of 30 (a career best within the Club and a runs total second only to John King). When bowling, Derek took over 1300 wickets, second only to Charles L’Archer. Derek also did the “double” twice and held over 300 catches. In addition to this he was Club Captain during eight seasons. Derek’s record for the Club marks him as being the best all-round cricketer the Club has produced and there are many who feel that Derek could have performed well at county level. During this era the Club was fortunate to have stalwart recruits such as M. (Mick) Bland and G. (Glen) Gershkoff, both of whom gave invaluable service both on and off the field of play.
OLD BOYS’ DAY – SATURDAY JULY 8TH. 1967.
Standing L. to R.
T. Marshall (Staff), L. Fitt, P. Southwick, G. Leach (12th Man), T.Baldwin, R. Ackerley, K. Oborne, C. Hore, U. Patel, D. Latuske (Scorer), N. Addison (1963-65, 12th Man), R. Money (1959-64), M. Bland (1958-65), D. Garrard (1958-66), W. Hart (1946-53), G. Gershkoff (1958-65), D. Smith (1942-50), D. Clarke (1946-54).
Seated L. to R.
R.Sheppard, M. Staddon, M. Selvey, R.Payne (Captain), J.P. Cowan, B.A. (Headmaster), D. Lawrence (1954-61, Captain), J. King (1945-1949), J. Durham (1933-37), T. Finucane (1925-31).
In 1977 Battersea Grammar School ceased to exist and the establishments that took its place on the educational scene chose not to link with the Old Grammarians’ Association and, consequently, the link that provided “facilities for the playing of Cricket and Football by the past pupils of Battersea Grammar School who are members of the Old Grammarians’ Association” was broken. The Old Grammarians’ Cricket Club continued to play under its original name for another 18 years with a fast diminishing number of players who qualified as Old Grammarians – A. (Tony) Fretwell being among the longest serving – and, at the end of the 2005 season the Club joined with Old Sinjuns to form a club under the name of SinjunGrammarians. Thus the Old Grammarians’ Cricket Club completed 80 years existence. The newly formed club is now, to all intents and purposes, a private club.
THE BURNTWOOD LANE PAVILION as it looks TODAY, now PART of SINJUNSGRAMMARIANS’ CRICKET CLUB.
In writing a history of an organization such as the Old Grammarians’ Cricket Club, it is impossible to mention all of the players and members who did so much to make the Club the success it was during its lifetime; many are mentioned in this history, many more are not. Of those not mentioned earlier it would be remiss not to include the name of D.E. (Don) Clarke. In addition to being a player both of cricket and football for the Old Grammarians, Don, ably supported by his wife, Kath, was also Secretary for many years, a number of those during very difficult times for the Club as an entity but also when complicated issues regarding the ground and other vital matters were major concerns. Don carried out these duties, often unrecognized, with dedication and skill. Any organization such as OGCC has need of its “Don Clarke” and we were singularly well served by ours.
This brief history has as an appendix of original documents of OGCC affairs including Rules Books, Fixture Cards, lists of Officers and consolidated Club Records. These documents can be found, with other Battersea Grammar School archival material, at Battersea Library.