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Below is an extract from the 1976 centenary year book, Earlswood Cricket Club - The First 100 Years

Earlswood CC was founded in 1876 by a group of local farmers and landowners, including Tertius Burman and John Horton, who was team captain. The club's first home was a field in Cleobury Lane, part of Tertius Burman's farm and it is interesting to note that a hundred years on, his nephew, Sir Charles Burman, is a vice president of the club. It seems that once a family becomes involved with the Earlswood Cricket Club their association is likely to be a long one. Tertius himself played for the club for many years and then served as President until his death in 1945.

Ten years after the first match, the Hunt family forged their link with the Club which continues to this day. The brothers who joined en masse were Alfred, Edwin, Stanley, Fred, Harvey and cousin Phil, and it must have been confusing to the scorers when all six played in the side! It is not unusual for all ten wickets to be credited to the family, as recorded in the St Patrick's (Salter Street) Parish Magazine. The brothers were fortunate in having a cricket field (used by the club 1886-88) behind the workshop to the rear of Shutt Lane and Umberslade Road, where the family wheelwright business was carried on. Once they had made their quota for the day they were able to practice their cricket!

In 1888, the Reverend WW Sedgwick, who had been a member of the cricket and football teams and, incidentally, later became Bishop of a group of islands in the Pacific, was succeeded by the Reverend GW Barnard as vicar of St Patricks. Fortunately, he too was a cricketer and persuaded the Church to allow the Club to use the Vicarage field. It was however, necessary to relay the pitch, for which the Vicar received a sum of twelve shillings.

Other expenses that day were:

  • Practice ground improvements (9 1/2 days work, two men at 2s.6d per day) £2 7s. 6d
  • Two days work and a few hours over, 5s 6d
  • Three and a half days work, 8s 9d
  • Umpires expenses, 8d
  • Hiring Glee Party for a social event, 4s 101/d
  • Cricket bat 10s. 0d
  • Match ball, 4s 6d
  • Lamp oil and candles for social functions also figured largely in the budget.

Cricket clubs in those days were run on rather different lines from those we know today. Rule 8 states that on practice evenings, “no member shall be allowed to bat more than 10 minutes till all present have batted”. Rule 11 “That in a Match the Captain shall have the power of fining any Member for inattention to the game. Such fine shall not exceed 2s. 6d.” – a days wages, as we have seen. Rule 12 “That any Member having promised to play in a Match and not being able to do so, should give notice to the Hon. Secretary beforehand, or be fined 1s. 0d”.

If attitudes to the game have changed since then, so also have the Club's social events, as may be seen to the invitation to the Annual Soiree in 1896, tickets 1s 6d each, and to the Annual Ball (dancing to Mr G Smith's Quadrille Band – carriages at 2 am) at the Blue Bell Hotel, Warings Green, which is still in existence.

Around the turn of the century, Earlswood Cricket Club enjoyed a great deal of success playing such teams as Pickwick, Knowle and Dorridge, Aston Unity, Kings Norton, Warwickshire Club and Ground, Solihull School, Shirley and Studley. It is recorded that Shirley were once dismissed for seven and Studley for eleven, although some thirty years later Ocker Hill scored only five. Back in the 1890s – 1900s Stanley Hunt, “the demon bowler” and perhaps Earlswood's most successful player. He had a trial for Warwickshire at which the authorities at Edgbaston suggested he should modify his rather jerky action! We understand that he did not agree with the suggestion and continued his career with Earlswood taking a hundred wickets in one season. It is said that his fast ball turned away to the off and at times was almost unplayable. He was also a useful batsman and once took part in a stand of two hundred partnered by Arthur (later Lord) Moncrieff, in the days when only the wicket was cut short. Frederick, Stanley's brother, was perhaps the most picturesque- if that is the right word –character at this time. Short in stature, his appearance was almost Pickwickian, insisting as he did on wearing his braces to play, and once upsetting the umpire by wearing his waistcoat when the weather turned chilly.

In the 1890s, W Adams, who lived in Earlswood in Shutt Lane, founded the Redditch and District League. The first secretary of the League was Edwin Hunt, who was also Secretary of Earlswood Cricket Club. The Club was runner up in the League in 1896, 1902 and 1904 and won it in 1897, 1906, 1907 and 1908, thus winning the Cup outright. The cup itself appears on photographs taken at the time but its whereabouts is now unknown. It is believed that during the 1914-18 War it was returned by Edwin Hunt to the league officials in Redditch, but determined efforts to trace it in later years proved unsuccessful.

In about 1900, the Club found itself looking for a ground once more as the Reverend GW Barnard married, and his wife objected to the cricketers presence. The Club's treasurer, Tom Moakes, who held office for over 50 years until his death during the 1939-45 war, allowed the matches to take place for a time in his field behind the village hall from whence they moved soon afterwards to Tom Osborne's field in Norton Lane, opposite Woodfields Farm. Here an excellent square was laid out but the outfield was not cut as it was used for grazing during the week and natural hazards abounded! It was alsomst impossible to hit a ball to the boundary along the ground except on the path to the pavilion and several players perfected the technique of doing just that.

During this period (early this century) the team included George Smith of Solihull, Fred White and Tom Holton, the team captain who emigrated to America in 1911. Edwin Hunt became captain in his place, continuing in office as secretary. In the same year, umpire HJ Summers, the local schoolmaster, died. Soon after his son, Reg Summers, joined the club and was to serve it until his death some sixty years later in 1973.

Reg achieved many distinctions in his long cricket career, in spite of the fact that he had to divide his time between the Church, his Scott motorcycles, photography and his garden, in that order. In 1953, at the age of 54, in a game against Moseley, he took all ten wickets for twenty nine runs and was awarded a cricket bat by the Sunday Chronicle and a specially inscribed trophy by the club. When he died in 1973 a generous legacy enabled the club to improve the facilities at the ground, and a pair of spectator's benches were bought, one in Reg's memory and one in the memory of Mrs E.E. Hall, who also made a bequest to the Club in the same year.

Contemporaries of Reg were Edwin Hunt II and FJ Burgoyne, wicketkeeper, whose combination with Albert Griffin was considered to be well worth seeing. Albert Griffin was an outstanding all round player who joined the Club from Headless Cross around 1903. He played for Earlswood until the Second World War and was seen each week cycling to cricket, towing his crippled wife in a wickerwork trailer – this was obviously good training.

Just before the First World War, the practice of holding mid-week games was discontinued, probably because members were beginning to work further afield and were not available. 1914 saw a temporary break in the Club's activities, which recommenced as soon as possible after 1918. The link with the local school which existed when HJ Summers was umpire was continued with the presence on the committee at this time of Mr Long, the schoolmaster, who later served as president from 1958 to 1966. New players were taken on in the post war-period, including Carl Plenderleith, described as “a giant fast bowler” from the Forest of Arden Club, who later went to South Africa. During his stay with the club, he was signalman at the local railway station. At this time the General Strike affected even village cricket- it is noted that the match on 8th May 1926 was not played because of it.

In about 1928, the Club acquired several young players from a team run by the late W Jameson at the Chapel in Wood Lane. These included Jack Gardner and Fred Jameson. Then, in 1932, Jack Wright came from Yorkshire to take up an appointment at Salter Street School. He soon joined the Club, being both batsman and bowler. He was captain from 1946 until 1959, when he became Treasurer, a post which he held until 1967.

In 1936, Edwin Hunt I completed fifty years as secretary and twenty-five years as captain. To mark the occasions, a celebration supper was held by the Club at which a grandfather clock was presented, together with a silver tray for Mrs Hunt.

Edwin Hunt I continued as captain until 1938 when he was succeeded by the Reverend AR Eames, who proved to be an outstanding wicket keeper, slow bowler when needed, and a good bat. Jack Wright recalls that during the 1930s the team was made up of almost entirely local players, and travelling was almost unknown as no more than two matches were played away each season. The late Reg Summers recalled that on occasion, a horse and wagon would be used to transport the team; he remembered that more than once, the horse was left to find its own way back, the driver having over-indulged and the players being too engrossed with their card playing in the back to be too much of an assistance!

As the 1939-45 War approached, a group of young hopefuls was seen at the ground, and they were to form the back-bone of the post-war side. These included Colin North, Bob North, John Deeley and the third Edwin Hunt, who recalls that their matches played outside the boundary assumed more significance than the one going on the wicket. He recalls, “It may be that I was tolerated as the one who could best obtain the six battered wickets and somewhat feathery ball from Uncle Stanley, who seems to have been the self-appointed custodian of the Club kit. Every time the kit was borrowed, the same ritual was observed, the ball being fetched from a ledge over the doorway in the pavilion and handed over, somewhat grudgingly, with the words, “Don’t lose it!”. In 1940, Edwin Hunt III played his first match for the Club as a lad of thirteen, against Audax, in the company of his father, his grandfather and Great Uncle Stanley, but unfortunately, scored only one run. It must have been daunting indeed since, as Jack Wright recalls, “The older generation of Hunts maintained their interest throughout the season by sitting on the critics’ bench and offering advice or sharp criticism (if warranted) at the end of a person's innings or as to how one performed as a bowler”. In fact, Edwin Hunt I played until after his seventy first birthday, whilst Stanley retired as a youngster of sixty seven.

The death of Tertius Burman during the Second World War left the club without a president until 1946 when Edwin Hunt I was invited to accept this office, which he held until his death in 1957.

1946 found the club with two main problems; the absence of a suitable ground and the lack of players. At this time the Club owes its survival to Edwin Hunt II who made great efforts himself and encouraged others to do so, both in raising money and then in working on the ground itself when the Reverend AR Eames offered the use of the Vicarage Field which had been the Club's home some fifty years previously and remains so to this day.

The winter of 1946-47 was spent in preparing the ground for the coming season. Members worked very hard to lay drains, trim hedges, clear ditches, build a tea room, convert stables into changing rooms and even take part of the Vicars gardens and orchards into the outfield. Play began on the new ground in May 1947, with a very different team from that of seven years earlier. Amongst the players common to both were the Reverend AR Eames, E Bissell, H Lowe, Edwin Hunt II, Reg Summers, JW Bell and Jack Wright, captain, who, with Reg Summers, continued as chief wicket takers. In 1948, Reg took exactly 100 wickets, no mean achievement when we realise that only Saturday matches were played.

1950 saw the end of an era with the untimely death of Edwin Hunt II at the age of 51, having seen the Club re-established by his efforts and with the help of his friend George Coldicutt and George's three sons, Peter, Brian and Graham. The following year, 1951, was the seventy fifth anniversary of the Club's formation. The occasion was marked by social events and the inauguration of the Buckingham Cup for the player taking the most catches in a season.

At about this time a second XI was begun, led by Joe Buckingham, and Earlswood has fielded a second XI each week ever since. After some years Vic Gregory followed Joe Buckingham as second XI captain until he left the district. Cecil Pielow also captained the second XI for a few games. He was memorable in that he was usually cleaned bowled by a ball which, had it connected, would have gone “right over that tree”.

In 1952 the office of Chairman was created and was filled by E Fewster until his untimely death in 1954. He was a keen supporter of the Club and when he died the Reverend C Brook conducted a short service in his memory before one of the matches. Harry Gilson was invited to take office as Chairman and served the Club indefatigably in every way and was sadly missed by all on his death in 1959.

He was succeeded by Ernest Bennett who held the office of Chairman until 1967 when he was appointed President. Ernest Bennett continues to serve the Club in this capacity, having joined as a player in the early 1950s.

Colin North succeeded Edwin Hunt II as Secretary in 1950 and worked energetically for the Club during the next few years, during which time a new pavilion was built by the members, with the result that the foundations are a few inches out of square. In 1958, the Reverend AR Eames, who had left the district in 1953, returned to declare it open. During this period the working parties on both ground and buildings were driven on by Reg Summers, who is well remembered starting up his beloved Trojan amid clouds of blue smoke in preparation for rolling the pitch when the game had ended, regardless of the younger lower order batsmen who were still doing battle between the stumps.

Jack Wright continued as first XI captain until 1959, during which time the accuracy of his field placing had to be seen to be believed. Often a fielder would be directed to “that daisy there” or “just past that dandelion”. He was a great character on the field and when bowling he always wore his cap which was sometimes flung to the ground in disgust when some hapless fielder grounded a simple – or not so simple- catch. After his long spell as first XI captain, Jack Wright took over the captaincy of the second XI for some seasons and was elected Treasurer when Jack Fowler left the district. His accurate bowling and forceful batting were of great value, supported latterly by Derek Jewsbury and Colin North. He finally retired from active participation in the game in 1963, when he was elected a life Vice President.

In 1959 Derek Jewsbury was elected first XI captain, having joined the Club some years previously, but held the office for one year only. In 1960 Colin, the younger of the North brothers, took over and held office for only a few months until he left the district. Though now resident in Cornwall he still retains a great affection for the Club.

After Colin North's departure in 1960, the first XI captaincy fell to David Pearce, whose appearance makes him Earlswood's answer to David Steele. His role was as a wicket keeper and opening bat, and to this day he is a regular member of the side. Roger Horne took over captaincy of the first XI in 1966, succeeded in 1969 by Graham Coldicutt, who had joined the club as a lad of fifteen in 1949, his brother Peter Coldicutt having joined a year earlier. Graham Coldicutt had become an accomplished wicket keeper during his apprenticeship in the second XI, but in the first team he developed into a useful off break bowler. He continued as captain until 1973 when he was forced to give up because of a back injury. He was a tireless worker for the club which owes him a deep debt of gratitude for the time and money he has expended over the years on its behalf.

In 1974, David Needle, who had been vice captain the previous season, took over the captaincy of the first XI and continues in that position although he played very little during the 1975 season owing to illness and the job of running the side fell upon vice captain Phil Hall and Terry Lees.

Meanwhile, since its formation in 1950, the second XI has established itself and prospered, sometimes at the expense of the first XI. It has always been the policy of the Club to keep as far as possible a nucleus of some ability in the second XI to stiffen the side and encourage the younger players. To this end in the 1950s and 1960s it probably had a better balanced attack in the shape of Alf Rose and David George supported by Jack Wright and Bob Summers, than had the first XI.

Second XI captains recently have been D Smith (1960-61), BJ Wright (1962-65), M Duffin (1966-67), F Fletcher (1970) and Derrick Hunt (1971 to present time). Derrick Hunt is a worthy holder of the family name but is in fact no relation to the Earlswood family. He has had to overcome many trials and tribulations mainly concerning the strength and numbers of his team but it seems that things are improving, for 1975 produced several young and one or two older players of some ability, and we can reasonably hope that the days of shortage of players are over.

A brief note should be made of the Haig National Village Knockout Competition which the Club has entered faithfully since its inception in 1972, without much success to date. However, who knows what we may achieve in our centenary year.

On the administrative side of the things, the Club has been very fortunate in having extremely conscientious secretaries over the years but it will be noted that these have been very few:

Club Secretary Term of Office

  • Edwin Hunt I 1876 - 1940
  • Edwin Hunt II 1946 - 1950
  • Colin North 1950 - 1953
  • Peter Coldicutt 1953 - 1956
  • John Brown 1956 - 1960
  • Graham Coldicutt 1960 - 1967
  • John Brown 1967 -

The financial affairs of the Club have similarly been handled by very few over the years, the more recent treasurers being:

Club Treasurer Term of Office

  • W Jameson 1946
  • RW Simmons 1947
  • HH Cooper 1948 - 1949
  • Edwin Hunt II 1950 - 1951
  • Jack Fowler 1951 - 1959
  • Jack Wright 1959 - 1968
  • Melvyn Taylor 1968 -

It is worth noting that Melvyn Taylor is the great grandson of Alfred Hunt, one of the original Hunt brothers mentioned earlier.

The office of match and fixture secretary was re created in 1951 and is so popular it has been held by one person only in the ensuing twenty five years – Edwin Hunt III, who contrives to arrange the fixtures without too many gaps and duplications and still manages to bowl a little and bat less, not quite in the same class as his illustrious grandfather and great uncles.

Whilst considering bowling achievements, the record of Alf Rose is worthy of note. Since joining the club fifteen years ago, he has taken just under one thousand wickets for the club - a milestone he is hoping to achieve in this our centenary year.