The Story of Heyford: Cricket on the Village Green V4C5

Like most villages in England Nether Heyford sported the idyllic sight of twenty two people dressed in immaculate whites playing the age-old sport of Cricket on the Village Green.

A team game remarkably like cricket was being played in England as early as 1300 and by the 1700’s it was being played by the landed aristocracy and so became part of our culture. In the early 1890’s County Cricket was established with clubs being admitted only when the MCC judged their standard to be acceptable and the county of Northamptonshire was admitted in 1905.

The period 1890-1914 is regarded as the golden age of cricket with interest in the sport becoming widespread. Today it is not quite so popular with the young and it is not surprising that India and Pakistan have such magnificent teams as children take up cricket there as soon as they can hold a bat and at week-ends you can see teams and teams of players on any given space practising their skills -far more than even our local lads play football.

The tradition of a local cricket team still goes on in Heyford, but not on the Green. For the last few years you could see Julian Rice and his merry men playing on the well-tended sports ground by the Pavilion built ten years ago and situated just as you enter Heyford from the A45. (The Pavilion used to be the football changing rooms which were moved from the village green to the sports field). Still an idyllic sight but not the same perhaps as when cricket was played in the centre of the village.

The early years

The Cricket Club in Heyford was founded by Henry Isham Longden when he came to the village as Rector in 1897. He was, according to Joan Wake in her book ‘The life of Henry Isham Longden’, fond of cricket and apparently he had played for the Northampton Cricket Club in his curate days, so it is not surprising that he was always ready for a village cricket match. Hevford’s Bob Browning (1892-1997) recalls cricket being played on the green in the early 1900s, but these were in the days of friendlies against neighbouring villages.

There must have been a lapse of all activities during the 1914-1918 war with all able-bodied men fighting, but cricket resumed in the 1920’s. At this time the green was more uneven than it is today as it was grazed by cows. There was continual debate about whether a proper pitch could be laid. According to the rules laid down for the management of the green no digging could take place, and much argument went on about laying such a pitch. However agreement was eventually reached and a wicket turf was laid on the centre part of the green by Jack Nickolls and Tommy Kingston.

In the 1920’s the Heyford team consisted of such people as Bert Thompson, Frank Reeve, Bob Foster, Dick Foster and Ron Humphrey. They played friendlies against local villages, Farthingstone and Everdon. Before each match nets were erected along the far side of the green to protect the windows and slates of the houses nearby. And of course they all met afterwards in the clubroom of the Foresters Arms.

In the 1930’s the players included Bill Kingston, Bernard North, Charlie Copson, Jack Butcher, Dennis Clarke and Reg Collins. The main umpire for Heyford was Sonny Thompson and they played against Everdon, Pattishall, Astcote, Bugbrooke, Kislingbury and Harpole. Bill Kingston recalls that before they could play they had to make up the pitch. They had to fill in the holes, patch it, turf it and roll it because the cows had been on it all week! And according to Charlie Copson the pitch was so well prepared that it was used on Friday evenings for tennis matches.

Cricket as it appeared on the Green in the 1940’s and 1950’s

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The team in the 1960’s

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Standing, left to right: Jack Draper, Peter Brodie, John Draper, Michae Ingray, Norman Fonge, Bernard North, Ron Copson, Bert Thornicroft, Ben Spokes

Kneeling, left to right: Dennis Clarke, Jim Blood, Harry Haynes, Charlie King, Reg Collins 

Twenty years without a club

Then the cricket ceased. In the Sunday Telegraph a few weeks before Easter 1999, it was reported “The village Cricket Club has been forced to close after the wives and friends of the players refused to make their teas”. This, I hasten to add, was not what happened to Heyford. By the 1950’s Tommy Rolfe had left the Foresters and houses had been built alongside the green between Middle Street and the Post Office, making it difficult to protect them against damage from the balls. Also there were few young men in the village in the post war years because many were moving to town to take advantage of modern work and housing opportunities.

In the Mercury & Herald November 6th 1969 a little piece about Nether Heyford appeared. “Heyford is developing fast with an attractive diversity of new and stylish housing running in price to the five figure bracket, but in the heart of the village the scene remains much the same as half century ago – thanks to the preservation of one of the most expansive village greens in England. It is a curious fact, however, that Nether Heyford has no cricket club. It used to have one but the young people have cars these days and go where they will for their sport and pleasure”.

The club reformed

However, on the 16th June 1977 a meeting was held with Charles King asking the question “Would it be possible to raise a cricket team in the village?” and no article about cricket in Nether Heyford would be complete without a mention of Dave Jenkinson who, after this initial meeting, was elected Chairman of the newly reformed Cricket Club with Charles King, who lived in Hillside Road, becoming the Secretary.

Charles told the local paper that when they had started up again they played half-a-dozen evening games with limited overs to test out the interest. But with no pitch and little equipment and the green being used all winter for football, it was becoming very difficult to keep interest going. He reported that “we’ve had talks with a local farmer about using one of his fields, but at the moment we’re playing all our matches away from home; we book pitches on places like the Racecourse in Northampton. But the real snag about a square on the green, is that we’d need to spend £160 on safety netting along the roadside”.

Thus a new venue for cricket was being called for. Plans for playing fields were being started and fund-raising events taking place. And an apt headline appeared in the paper: “Cricketers bat on and refuse to be stumped”.

Discos at the Foresters Arms followed and on December 23rd 1977 a Christmas Supper Dance was held, music by the Neal Stanton Band, and tickets at £2.50. At this time the membership fee of the Cricket Club was £1 a head and the match fees 10p per game. More and more local people became involved with the Club and Mrs. Rosemary Haddon was elected Treasurer having the grand sum of £155.4p in the kitty.

In 1978 on the 25th May the Mercury and Herald reported some memories from Mr. Albert Garrett who was clerk to the parish council for 35 years and at that time 79 years old. “We used to play cricket on the green” he said “they’ve just started the club up again. I played until I was 60” and he laughed. “We used to break a lot of windows but this time I think they’re getting something to protect them. Even so, we always had a collection to pay for them, especially for one old chap who had his broken regularly.”

And in 1982 when Dave Tite was secretary, the Club was looking back to 1977, the year that Heyford Cricket Club was reformed and remarking on how well the club was doing since it started without money, equipment or fixtures. In March 1983 Geoff Garrett was voted Captain and Paul Horrocks was persuaded to take on the job of fund raising- a difficult but necessary job in the circumstances. They had a full fixture list and entered for the Watney Mann Cup.

All matches ‘away’

In 1984 still without proper grounds the Cricket Club flourished, meetings were held still at The Foresters Arms with Mine Hosts Alf and Marg Parker and youngsters were being recruited. At the Parish Council Annual Meeting members raised the subject of their need for practice nets in the village, perhaps on the green, and these “would not take up a great deal of room and could be used by the School and would add to the attractions of the village”. If you look at the fixture list for July 1984 you will see that not one of the matches were played at home. And amusingly on the front of the fixture list you will see the following:

REMEMBER:

It is better to have played and lost than never to have played at all.

(Gayton excepted)

At the 7th AGM of the Heyford Cricket Club on Sunday, 31st March 1985, the Chairman reported sadly that there was now no prospect of home fixtures being played within the Parish Boundary but that it was to be hoped that progress on the Heyford Playing Fields project would mean a ray of hope for future seasons.

The following report in September in the Prattler went “Came second to Ryland 0/B’s in the Clenbury / Haine Shield. Lost in the final. Watney Mann Cup got through to the second round by having a bye in the preliminary round – and beating Gayton in the first round. Lost to Buqbrooke in the second round. We have started a Youth Team with the lads doing most of their own organising. They have been going for about six months and have had two fixtures against very good sides. They tied their first game against Wootton Youth and narrowly lost to Rylands Under 15’s. They have a practise net on the Green every Monday evening. The lads show a lot of promise and hopefully next season we call get them into a league through the Cricket Association. “

But it was to be some time before cricketers could enjoy the game on their home turf. An article appeared in February 1987 stating that “The Parish Council, through its Leisure and Amenities Committee, has been looking into the possibility of acquiring enough land to provide a playing field for the use of the inhabitants of both Nether and Upper Heyford. This matter was also discussed at the last Annual Parish Council meeting. A steering group has been formed to consider the matter, and the outcome of their enquiries to date is that Mr. J Spokes of Upton is prepared to sell approximately 10 acres of land, which seems to be ideally suited to a games area. The land forms part of a flat field, which is situated behind the allotments and Mrs. Smith’s field on the Upper Road.”

The team in 1980

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This photograph, taken on Jeremy Rice’s front lawn, shows the team as proud winners in 1980 of the Clenberry / Haine Shield.
Standing: Julian Rice, Ray Haddon, Dave Tite, Tony Charville, G Starmer, Graham Drake
Seated: Alex Kirkbride, Geoff Garrett, Geoff Sturgess, Mike Tharby

Home turf at last

In July 1988 the cricket square was making good progress “thanks to the efforts of the Grounds Committee headed by Jeremy Rice.” And in 1989 Geoff Sturgess of Hillside Crescent was very encouraged by the good turnout for the Youth Cricket Under 16’s Team as nets were now available down on the Playing Field.

In the Prattler, May 1989, the following article appeared compiled by Alex Kirkbride:

“The merry click of bat against the ball, the expectant rush, the cheering that proclaims skill of the greatest of all English games; Flutter of the flags, the branches of the trees swaying beneath the summer breeze; No sweeter music in the world is found than that upon an English cricket ground.

R Ratcliffe Ellis; Cricket Music

Yes, the dream is now a reality. Heyford Cricket Club is back at home”.

And now in 1999 Simon Legge has taken over the captaincy from Julian Rice and will lead his team in League Cricket. The village Green has seen the very last of the cricket but thanks to all the efforts of the stalwarts of the village, the cricket heritage will continue.

 

With grateful thanks to Barbara Haynes, Julian Rice and Dave Tite

Julie Rands-Allen

Extract from The Story of Heyford – Volume 4 of 4 – Pages 22 to 27

The Story of Heyford: The Toilet Cart V1C6

Until the l950’s there was no main sewage in the village. People had no proper sanitation, just an outside toilet with a pit or a pail. Some of these little buildings still exist as tool sheds or stores but most have gone. Inside the toilet was a bucket which would be emptied around once a week, usually onto the allotment.

Then some time in the early 1900’s the parish council organised a weekly collection of buckets. Bob Browning recalled how two men were employed with a horse and two—Wheeled cart to collect the contents once a week. The contents would be taken away for disposal. The cart had two wheels for easy tipping.

Bill Nickolls recalls that in the 1920’s there was a special cart for the purpose, shared with Bugbrooke. Jack Earl who at that time organised the collection, had to go twice a week with a horse to collect the cart from Bugbrooke. Collection in Heyford was on Monday and Friday evenings. People would put out their buckets, much as they do with their dustbins nowadays, and the cart came to empty the contents. Jack employed Bill Nickolls and Jo Charville for this task. They were provided with boiler
suits, gloves, wellingtons, and flashlights with batteries. The pong was bad but the pay was good! It was done late in the evening after people were mostly indoors with the windows shut. The contents were taken to a field beyond the houses on the right hand side of Furnace Lane where they were emptied into a trench and ploughed in. Even so the field was littered with paper which had escaped the trench and blown around in the wind. Sometimes two journeys were necessary and sometimes only one. There were also one or two places on route where the buckets could be ‘unofficially’ emptied (if the contents were mostly liquid!) to avoid the need for two journeys to the official dump.

In the 1930’s the collection was organised by George Faulkner of The Bricklayers Arms. Bill Kingston remembers him parking the cart under the oak tree on the memorial green waiting. for his helpers to arrive — Ted Charville, Jo Charville, Amos Lee and ‘Tankie’ Haynes.

There are stories of one or two accidents. An evacuee boy called Tony Sweet was walking backwards up Furnace Lane where there was an ‘avenue of pails’ and he tumbled into one of the buckets. He seemingly got a good telling off because he took a lot of cleaning up. There is also a story about ‘Mucky Matthews’, who apparently fell backwards into the cart when his horse reared. Hence his name!

Extract from The Story of Heyford – Volume 1 of 4 – Page 12

Heyford Gardening Club – July 2019

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Our June meeting featured a fascinating talk by Steve Brown on bonsai; a form of gardening which verges on an art form. I always think of it as extreme topiary.

Rose Show

Despite the tempestuous weather there was a good showing for the rose show with 57 entries.

Pauline Guglielmi won the single flowered class, Brian Jackson came second with John Dunkley and Tony Clewett in joint third place.

In the cluster flowered class Jill Langrish came first, Pauline Guglielmi was second
and Val Jackson, Rosemary Dunkley and Anne Haynes all tied for third place.

The perils of perlite

Following advice in the RHS magazine I have over the last few years added vermiculite to multi purpose compost for sowing seeds and taking cuttings. This proved extremely successful producing plants with vigorous root systems which established very quickly. Last year however instead of vermiculite I used perlite which, I assumed, would do the same thing. However I experienced a lot of difficulty; seedlings germinated quickly enough but then failed to develop properly and cuttings just didn’t root.

I can’t be sure that this was entirely due to the perlite, but having gone back to using vermiculite again, the results have improved significantly. This illustrates the principle that in gardening apparently small variations in conditions can make the difference between success and failure.

Weird Weather-again!

Following a baking Easter, a freezing May, and no rain for months suddenly the
heavens have opened and given us the whole summers rain in a few days. It’s a
wonder that we can grow anything!

Some Things to do in July

1. Dead head roses, bedding plants and perennials to get more flowers.
2. Pick courgette’s before they turn into marrows (unless you like marrows)
3. Water and feed plants in containers

Mark Newstead

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www.heyfordgardenclub.com

For more information visit the Heyford Gardening Club & Allotments page

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Heyford Gardening Club – April 2019

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At our March meeting we were entertained by Liz Taylor who described the work being done by the Woodland Trust to try and repair the damage being done to our woodlands by development and pests and disease. Apparently they need to plant 2000 trees each just to keep numbers as they are. Working with trees needs a longer time scale; some of their projects have a timetable of 100 years!

The evening also featured our annual daffodil bench show which which this year coincided nicely with the flowers in our gardens, as was illustrated by the 54 entries. This made judging difficult as all the blooms were of such excellent quality.

The single colour section was won jointly by Anne Haynes and Margaret Ridgewell Brian Haynes came second and John Dunkley and Janet Forth came joint third.

The Small flowered section was won by Val Jackson, Tom Wallis came second and Avril Minchin got third place.

The bi-colour flower section was won by Jenny Wilshire, Jean Spokes was second and Lynn Ashbee and Rosemary Dunkley shared third place.

Our next meeting will be on 8th April when we definitely will welcome the return of Patsy Rayner who will tell us about plants and literature. (My apologies for mistakenly trailing this talk last month). Aprils meeting will also have our annual Tulip show, let’s hope for as much success as with the daffodils.

This winter has been generally mild and I have noticed signs of aphids on our roses in sheltered spots. This might seem a bit ominous, but on the positive side there are a lot of ladybirds hidden around the garden and all through the winter we have been finding lacewings in the house. With any luck these predators will help to control the greenfly numbers before they get out of hand.

Some Things to do in April
April is a busy month in the garden when we can start sowing and planting in earnest, but be vigilant for late frosts, particularly if you are planting out tender bedding plants. It’s also a good time to start feeding shrubs and roses.

Mark Newstead

www.heyfordgardenclub.com

For more information visit the Heyford Gardening Club & Allotments page

Heyford-Gardening-Cluband-allotments

Heyford Gardening Club – March 2019

Heyford-Gardening-Cluband-allotments

At our February meeting Christine Lewis explained the intricacies of using plant material to dye fabrics. This provided some surprises; who would have thought that avocado skins would produce a delicate pink, or that green was so difficult to obtain?

The evening also featured our annual art and craft show which again revealed the wealth of talent amongst our members. The photographic section was won by Jill Langrish with a study of snowdrops, Kim Woodbridge-Dodd and yours truly shared second place and Mike Langrish came third.

The visual art section was won by an embroidered seascape by Mary Newstead, Chris West came second and Linda Hall, Ann Haynes and myself tied for third place.

The craft section was won by Lynn Ashby with an amazingly intricate quilt, Mary Newstead was second and Chris West came third.

Next month we welcome the return of Patsy Rayner who will tell us about plants and literature.

The evening will also feature the Annual Daffodil Competition.

The classes are:

1. Single coloured daffodil
2. Bi-colour daffodil
3. Small flowered daffodil or narcissus

each exhibit will require only one bloom.

Spring
At the time of writing, in mid February, the snowdrops have been blooming for weeks and there are daffodils, crocuses primroses and violets all basking in the sunshine and yesterday the mahonia was full of bees. It would be easy to be seduced by these mild spells in early spring and to start sowing seeds but the nights are still long and cold and the soil hasn’t yet warmed up so it’s better to wait a bit longer. No doubt by the time you read this normal service will have been resumed.

Some Things to do in March
1. plant early potatoes, onion sets, garlic, shallots and summer bulbs
2. top dress containers and pots with fresh compost
3. last chance to plant bare rooted shrubs and trees

Mark Newstead

www.heyfordgardenclub.com

For more information visit the Heyford Gardening Club & Allotments page

Heyford-Gardening-Cluband-allotments