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

Nether Heyford W.I. – July 2019

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Our evening talk by Analiza Jones on the making of hand woven bags from the Philippines was fascinating and the amount of work which went into producing the materials for one handbag was staggering. Although the islands looked wonderful, it is a hard place to live and with very low wages. The finished articles were beautiful and you will probably see one or two of them in the village over the summer (if we ever get one!)

The subject for our next meeting is ‘Antiques and Collectables’ when the speaker for the evening will be Denise Cowling who has much experience as an Auctioneer and Gemologist and will be bringing articles to illustrate her talk. We are very much looking forward to seeing her as she was ill and had to cancel her visit to us last November. The meeting will be in the Village Hall on Thursday July 4th at 7.30. The cost will be £5 for non-members and will include refreshments.

We always have a break in August and this year members are taking to the water as we potter down the canal from Blisworth to Bugbrooke and back. Will it be too much to ask for a little sun, do you think?

Our next meeting in the Village Hall will be on Thursday September 5th when Debbie Horsman will be telling us about ‘Shackleton’s Forgotten Men’.

Thanks to everyone who supported our stall on Fete day. It was a shame about the weather, but turned out well in the end. Congratulations to everyone involved.

Mary Rice – Heyford Lodge – 01327 340101

 

Heyford Singers – July 2019

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Below is a seemingly random list of ideas, events and comments. Please read on and we shall join up the dots and gauge the connections, if you haven’t done so already!

  • Whilst waiting to be served in a renowned hardware shop in Stony Stratford last week, I glanced over the notices posted on the shop door. There was a delightful poster promoting, and inviting people to join, a new community choir being formed in the town. How wonderful is that! It seems that there are choirs and community singing groups springing up all over the country.
  • A headline in a recent newspaper article read “ ‘It gives me genuine freedom within’: the prison choir that reforms lives. The article, and indeed similar radio and television reports, goes on to praise the achievements of the Liberty Choir, which performs at the V & A in London. There are similar ventures happening all around the country.
  • The children from Bliss Charity school choir delighted the large audience who crowded into the village hall on fete day, singing amongst others songs, the one quoted above.
  • “We Are The World” was also sung by the children from Bliss, and thousands of primary age children at the 2019 Young Voices Music Festival. This is a very special and unique annual gathering of children from all over the country, who learn the songs in their individual schools and then come together to sing in their thousands, at the O2 Arena, the NEC, etc.
  • At the other end of the spectrum, but just as enjoyable, will be the Heyford Singers joining in with Nether Heyford’s Holiday at Home venture at the end of June. The theme this year is “Cruising”, so what watery songs does Mary have on her list for the choir and audience to sing?
  • Although I could go on I ought to finally mention my 30 year old nephew who, along with a large group of friends, is so excited about his impending trip to Glastonbury (I do hope the rain holds off for them all!). Amongst the many groups and artists he plans to watch is Kylie Minogue – to sing and join in with “I Should Be So Lucky”?

Well if you haven’t already worked out the link between these items, it is that of singing together, belonging to a group of people who also love to sing, and ultimately to achieve the benefits that brings to your own sense of well being. We are so fortunate to have in this village a community choir led by Mary Rice, whose musical history and abilities are renowned, and accompanied by our resident “master of the black and white keys”, Graham Kinnersly. We practise once a week from September until December for our Christmas concert, and then from January until May for our spring concert. The summer months are free for families, holidays, gardens, sport and leisure!

The choir is very much part of the local community and prides itself on having always been so. Most of us live in the village, although we have recently welcomed several new members from the surrounding area We have a delightful mix of male and female members, of all ages. And we have fun! That social event of meeting up once a week to learn new songs, sing old and familiar ones, ultimately then to perform before our families and friends, provides a warm sense of belonging, sharing and huge enjoyment.

On our first rehearsal in the autumn, Friday 6th September will be an Open Evening and everyone is very welcome. All you need is to enjoy singing, no need to read music, and definitely no auditions or solos! Come and meet us, watch, listen, join in and I guarantee that you will go home feeling energised and happy, having sung, laughed and made new friends.

If you feel that you would like to know more then please do contact Mary Rice, myself or someone you know who is already part of this community choir. There are also some information leaflets in the foyer of the village hall.

Jill Langrish

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If you would like to find out more, visit the Heyford Singers page or our website:

www.heyfordsingers.org

 alternatively come along to one of our rehearsals in Nether Heyford Village Hall.

____________________________________________________________________________________

Jill Langrish

Heyford Singers – June 2019

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The Heyford Singers spring concerts are over for another year, music scores have been returned to folders, storage cupboards or libraries, but the words and the music live on in our hearts and minds. The concerts were lovely and the choir really enjoyed singing the selection of songs chosen by Mary for this programme. Comments from our capacity audiences were warm and appreciative, not least for our new style and colour of concert dress. Thank you.

But it was also a sad occasion, for during the days leading up to the concerts we learnt that Isabel Brown and Carol Baker had died. Both were loyal and committed members of the choir, and true friends to us all. To this sadness was also the loss of family members, and friends in the village. However the coming together to sing gave everyone the chance to share our grief and sadness at the loss of these very special people in our lives. Like a gathering after a funeral, “a wake”, there is something very cathartic in being with others to link our own sadness, our tears, our loss and our wonderful memories, with those of our friends. Whether it be through singing, listening to music or just talking, the long process of healing begins.

I have on several occasions written about the value of music in our lives, and likewise of being part of a choir or similar organisation. The contribution it makes to our emotional, social, mental and physical health is inestimable. And to this I would add that of experiencing grief and loss in our lives. The tears may fall but being together “helps to ease the pain”.

Thank you to Graham and Kate, and Kath for coming to the concert. It was very brave of you. It allowed us to pay our special tribute in song to those we have lost.

Jill Langrish

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If you would like to find out more, visit the Heyford Singers page or our website:

www.heyfordsingers.org

 alternatively come along to one of our rehearsals in Nether Heyford Village Hall.

____________________________________________________________________________________

Jill Langrish

Nether Heyford W.I. – June 2019

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On May 2nd Nether Heyford W.I. ladies went to visit Rugby School. Sadly, due to a
swollen ankle I couldn’t go but I am reliably informed that it was a very interesting
and enjoyable evening with the Chapel earning a special mention. Unfortunately the
weather was not at its best but I’m guessing that the laughter still flowed!

At our meeting on Thursday June 6th Analiza Jones is coming to talk to us about the
making of hand woven bags from the Philippines. The fibre of stalks from locally
grown plants, like Abaka and Buntal, end up as vibrantly coloured bags which are
not only light and strong but also water resistant. It should be interesting to find out
about the hard work that goes into the harvesting, drying and weaving these lovely
bags so, if you would like to join us for the evening, we will be in the Village Hall at
7.30. The cost for non-members is £5 and refreshments will be included.

Our July meeting will be a talk on ‘Antiques and Collectables’ by Denise Cowling.
This was scheduled for last year but Denise was ill and unable to come so we are
very much looking forward to seeing her in 2019.

A reminder (just in case you have missed all the others!) that our Village Fete is on
Saturday June 8th. The W.I. will be having a produce stall as usual and we hope you
will come and meet us and support our Village Hall. How lucky we are to have such
a beautiful centre to our village and a hall that allows us to take part in so many
different activities. All we need now is the sun!

Mary Rice – Heyford Lodge – 01327 340101

 

Heyford Singers – May 2019

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Heyford Singers’ spring concert, Friday 10th May and Saturday 11th May, is entitled THIS IS MUSIC. Three simple words, a strong title, but nevertheless open to different meanings or interpretations. If you say it by stressing the “This is..” it becomes emphatic, celebratory, rather like a joyous claim on a beautiful October day of “This is autumn!” If you dwell on the last word, “music” it takes on a more personal tone, evoking individual enjoyment, preferences, memories, etc. For music is both a universal, and a personal and private medium. It can include small groups, whole nations or just a single person in their own musical world.

We all have our favourite types of music – anthems, blues, classical, drum and bass, electronic, folk, gospel, hymns, Irish, jazz, etc, etc. We may listen or participate, we may sing or dance, we may compose or improvise, we may share or prefer to be solo – whichever way, music has the power to embrace everything. It bookends our lives, from early songs and nursery rhymes to the hymns and favourite tunes that accompany our departure from this world.

At the recent Heyford Singers AGM Mary Rice (our Musical Director) wrote of her
hopes and thoughts as she planned the songs and content of the forthcoming spring
concert …….

“Our coming spring concert is about music in many of its different forms and emotional moods and, to some extent, its history and the things it can help to achieve. It is a powerful force and can influence many aspects of life if we let it. We need to be able to make that force such a tangible thing that the audience can feel it. Hopefully, in that way they will also understand it. Earlier I referred to the choir as a singing family. This isn’t something that many choirs can claim to be – it doesn’t just happen, it has to be worked at. Harmony is a precious commodity in every aspect, which we must continue to nurture as we go on. The more we make it obvious that we actually know and like one another the better we will sing and the more people will want to join us. I am very proud that I belong to such a family and want to thank you all for making the Heyford Singers what it is. Keep up the smiles, the caring, the friendship and the good work and the world, as they say, is our oyster!

“People all over the world, join hands, start a love train, love train…….”

From “Put a little Love in your Heart”

A beautiful sentiment and one to which we can all aspire!

So what music might you be entertained by at the concert, THIS IS MUSIC ? I have already written about “Amazing Grace” (February issue) and “Look at the World” (March issue) but there are others to tempt you with! Gospel songs and spirituals feature in the form of “Were You There?” and “Rivers of Babylon”, the exciting and much loved “A Million Dreams” from The Greatest Showmen, and protest songs of “We Shall Overcome” and “Lean on Me”. Words from traditional Irish blessings set to music by Jay Althouse becomes a beautiful lyrical song, “A Blessing” ending with, “May love and laughter light your days and warm your heart and home”.

The song featured at the top of this article has been written and composed by Heyford Singers’ very own talented piano accompanist, Graham Kinnersly, and it will have it’s special premiere at our concert. “Our Love Will Last Forever” is a love song, with words and sentiments that are beautiful and simple. Whether you listen to, or sing this song, it can bring a lump to your throat, a tear to your eye, and make your heart skip a beat.

Such is the power of music!

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If you would like to find out more, visit the Heyford Singers page or our website:

www.heyfordsingers.org

 alternatively come along to one of our rehearsals in Nether Heyford Village Hall.

____________________________________________________________________________________

Jill Langrish

Nether Heyford W.I. – May 2019

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How quickly the months seem to fly by! It seems no time at all since I was writing the last Prattler article and telling you that Renee Watt was coming to show us how to do Country Dancing. The ladies of Nether Heyford W.I. who were able to attend our April meeting are still laughing as we remember ‘trying’ to do our heel–toes, chains and hand clapping whilst counting at the same time. As a Mother I had always thought I was pretty good at multi-tasking but I obviously got that wrong! Anyone passing the Village Hall would be forgiven for thinking that the W.I. had been drinking something more potent than our normal ‘cuppa’ but how good we all felt when we eventually sat down for the refreshments. Many of you will know how passionate I am about music and there is no doubt that laughter is the best tonic for friends to share. Combine the two with dancing and the end product is magic. I do hope that our two visitors felt the same.

May is the month for our members to go on an outing and this year we are visiting Rugby for a tour of the famous school. Just to remind you all that the bus will be leaving the village at 6 pm from the shop side of the green. Let’s hope the weather stays fine.

We are back in the Village Hall for our June meeting when Analiza Jones will be telling us about the making of hand woven bags from the Philippines.

Congratulations to all those who organised and carried out the Village Litter Pick. The W.I. ladies’ contribution was about 16 bags plus assorted car-parts!! It is great to see the roads into the village looking so clean and shows visitors that we do care about the lovely area we are lucky to live in. Who knows, perhaps it will make them think first before they drop their fast food wrappers on the way through?!!

Mary Rice – Heyford Lodge – 01327 340101