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    History

    This section is reproduced from the 70th Anniversary Yearbook published in 2000…

    AN INFORMAL HISTORY OF THE CLUB
    IN THE BEGINNING…
    by Granny (H. N. E. Alston)

    On 27th April 1930 a meeting was held in Mr W F M Jones’ rooms in Caius College, Cambridge, at which it was decided to form a cricket Club, and Mr Jones was elected Captain, Secretary, Treasurer and general organiser until the Club should become established. Among those present were Pat Mermagen, Peter Watkin-Williams and Bruce Hart.

    Bill Jones was Captain of the Club in 1930 and 1931 and remained Treasurer until after the war. He had the misfortune to be hit in the eye by a ball while playing squash at Cambridge, and this considerably impaired his vision so that he soon ceased to play. After coming down from Cambridge he went on the staff at Clifton College and before the war he did a considerable amount of broadcasting on sport for the BBC.

    The first match was played on 11th June 1930 v North Norfolk Nomads and was lost by 1 wicket; the title of the team was simply “Bill Jones’ XI”. The following winter Bill considered the Club was established and resigned all his offices except that of Captain and Bruce Hart took over the Secretaryship. The Club was sub divided into:

    1. The Hoboes, who played matches during the Cambridge summer term;
    2. The Cambridge Sou’Westers, whose principal function was to prolong the West Country season by a Devon tour in September.

    This arrangement operated successfully throughout 1931 and 1932. Each year the Hoboes played eight matches, mainly against Cambridge Colleges and East Anglian Public Schools, while the Cambridge Sou’Westers carried through two Devon tours and gained much experience in the process. The 1932 tour was virtually washed out by rain. The first match ever played on a tour was a two-day game against Crewkerne and was drawn.

    By the end of 1932 most of the original members had gone down from Cambridge and it was decided to amalgamate the two Clubs. The Hoboes were therefore officially liquidated at the AGM of 1932. In this year George Arthurs played his first game for the Club, and was elected skipper for the following year. George was not only a first class batsman but he was one of the astutest captains of his day, and the success of the Club in the years 1933 to 1936, after which he had to resign for business reasons, was largely due to his leadership. It was at his suggestion that in 1934 Cecil Drake was elected President and no words can express adequately what he and his family have done since, to further the interests of the Club.

    In 1935 the prefix Cambridge was dropped from the Club’s name and the present rules drawn up. In 1936 the Club lost to Chudleigh and this was the last defeat until after the war, except for one by the President’s XI in 1938 when Tommy Garnett, then at the height of his form, decided to play for the opposition; he made 71 and 83, and the Club lost by 129 runs. In 1937 Eric Smith succeeded George as skipper. Eric was a useful bat and a magnificent fieldsman and his year saw the Club win every match on tour, ten, for so far the only time in its history.

    In 1939 only one day of the tour was played and members dispersed to take on other more onerous duties for the next six years. However, in 1946 a start was made again, due mainly to the efforts of the President, Bruce Hart, and Kerry Kershaw, who wrote early in the year saying that there must be a tour. Sou’Westers in general were lucky, but we mourned the loss of K Spurway and G C B Woodroffe, also that of Roy Sheppick who was killed in a motor accident shortly after Christmas 1938. Ken did not play a lot for the Club, but Gordon Woodroffe was a regular performer who had a highest score of 117 against Lynton in 1935. Roy Sheppick was considered by us all to have been the best bowler ever to have played for the Club right up to the war. In four tours he took 109 wickets for 13.03 each and in addition made 391 runs for an average of 21.72. A great many difficulties had to be overcome as petrol and food were rationed and accommodation was very difficult to find. However, 1946 got the Club going again even though only one and a half days play were possible in the last eight days of the tour owing to rain. In 1947 the first of the Cambridge tours took place and the Club played once more in the area in which it was founded.

    No mention of the Sou’Westers can be made complete without recalling the name of Bruce Hart. Bruce was a founder member of the Hoboes. It was he who suggested, organised and in many respects financed the early tours in the West. He lived at Feniton, near Honiton, and his house was the base from which everything sprang. He was to a large degree responsible for Seaton cricket in August and wholly responsible for the Sou’Wester tours when this finished. It was thus that Seaton came to be looked on as the home ground of the Sou’Westers. He was of little consequence as a cricketer at school but he became an extremely shrewd bowler, very difficult to play. He bowled with a very low action and at times at Taunton was lethal as the ball was delivered from below the level of the seats at the far end of the County Ground. He also had a favoured elm tree at the far end of Seaton, but unfortunately this was blown down one winter in a storm. Naturally, he played more often for the Club than anyone else, but his record speaks for itself: 532 wkts at 15.15 each. On the Cambridge and Western Tours of 1947 he took 49 wickets for 15.61 each. No one else in the Club’s history has got within smelling distance of five hundred wickets (apart from the writer and Chris Dean — Ed). He took a hat trick against Lynton in 1955 — 12.1 3 27 8— and his untimely death after the 1957 Tour was a shattering loss to the Club.

    THE FIRST 25 YEARS…
    A browse through the early Year Books
    By Paddy Heazell

    Between 1930 and 1956, yearbooks appeared only every three or four years. The annual nostalgic bonanza that reaches members (Hon Sec permitting) each spring is a relatively recent phenomenon — from 1964 to be precise. Before that, a lavish volume, full of literary gems and anecdotal badinage, as well as the essential statistics of course, had been produced only at times when it was felt appropriate to update the Club’s records and when the literary muse was clearly hyperactive. There follows some impressions drawn from these uniquely evocative documents.

    “Gentlemen, this is our firstborn!” The opening words from the first year book which covered the five seasons including 1934 (if 1930 can really be called a season, containing as it did only a single match v Norfolk Nomads on 11 I June at Fakenham). The Rules of the Club (as passed by the Committee, 29 October 1934) reveal that the Annual Sub was 2/6 (or l2/2p) and that members must be either Cambridge men or residents of the West Country. There was a Rule 7 that seemed to provide the crucial loophole by which many important members of the Club have since claimed the right to membership. The 1934 players already included such household names as Alston,

    Arthurs, Drake and Jones. Add to them Holmes, Hyde, Kahn, Kershaw, Mermagen, Pape and Eric Smith, all names still in the 1979 year book. The 1938 year book reveals that the accounts for the previous season were settled in the princely sum of 11-4-1. This book promises the sign of the Club’s consolidation and expansion. A veil may have passed over its attempts on the golf course. (Who knew that Granny was a fair golfer? Well, fairly fair. He halved his match; everyone else lost.) But we won the squash match v US Portland and the following season, the first tour of the Cambridge Colleges in April was projected. The literary section contained a report on Some Characters of the Club:

    Alston, HN — a prolific scorer, though he must curb a tendency to waggle his bottom. Gets many wickets through long hops and pseudo-googlies and catches brilliantly off his own bowling. His fielding, like his hair, is patchy.

    The Secretary’s notes end: “…. It does look as though we enter 1938 as a Club with a name! Of its nature the Future will show.”

    These words showed perhaps a premonition of the War which caused the 1939 tour to last only one day. The 1946 book was a grand act of faith designed to inspire the post war revival of the Club and ensure the 1946 tour took place. The back page starkly announced:

    “Balance sheet. None available. Hon Treasurer reports the Club is broke Very serious.”

    Then the Secretary sought help from his readers:

    “There are a few members about whom he is so much in the dark that he regrets that he regards them as ‘Missing, believed alive ‘. “

    We read too that “Capt. Alston appears to have spent most of the war sharing “top secret” information with Monty and Eisenhower. He once gave me a graphic description of how he sheltered under a five bar gate during a dive bombing attack. In an age of records, Granny is easily the Club’s most persuasive ‘line shooter’. Has now returned to the 57 varieties.” (He worked, briefly, for Heinz!)

    The 1938 tour was reported in full, to whet appetites; and how! Lynton made 329 for 6 decl. (Peter Cranmer 151) — and lost. Tommy Gamett and Geoff Kershaw put on 150 for the first wicket, and Sou’Westers romped home. Then, what of the famous R J 0 Meyer’s XI match, the very next day? Sou’Westers 235 for 8 decl. And in reply, with extras making 9 and numbers 5 and 7 together amassing 7, there were 8 ducks and Jack Meyer 9th out for 122 out of the total of 138.

    The year books of the 1950s bring us to an age abounding in names familiar, more or less, to the present generation. A promising young bowler called Alexander appears, and the Vice Captain of the Club in 1956 was a frustrated bowler and batsman of promise — Henderson by name. Others had become household words in Sou’Wester circles; Peregrine, Bennett, Bridgeman, Courtenay, Deacon, a young player of curious New Zealand extraction called Haynes, Lush, Madden-Gaskell and two Whites, M and N. There were junior Sou’Westers in those days and two day matches were common and there was talk of an Oxford Weekend. And the match fee was 2/- – just 10p.

    The literary section contained some of the best material to appear in any book. It included some quaint book reviews, including one of I Loved My Cricket by H N E Alston, published by the Krafty Press at 2’Ad. The reviewer writes: “Mr Alston ‘s slim selfportrait takes us into the enchanting dream of an English summer, the snap of the fingers as the ball passes the bat, the well known and bellowed cries “How is that, sir?”, “Get back you fool,” “Sweater!”, “Wasn’t within afoot of it” and so on. You must read it.”

    Granny’s double double (2,000 and 200) is celebrated in verse. This long piece by George Arthurs ends thus — and, but for the fact that Granny has now topped 3,000 and 500, it could apply to 1980:

    I learn the years have failed to take their toll
    Sou’Westers skippers still ask you to bowl!
    Well Granny, there are many folks in cricket Who make some runs but cannot take a wicket
    But from the records made up by Bruce Hart Your personal achievements stand apart
    TWO HUNDRED WICKETS taken, simply stuns
    But when you add to that TWO THOUSAND RUNS!!
    A wonderful achievement — WELL DONE, Granny (I can’t think why some Union didn’t ban-ee)
    And well indeed, have you deserved your fame
    For well you’ve played and well you’ve loved the game

    There are plenty of cracks and quips, which show that many remarks made in the 70s had their origins in the 50s. Granny’s lessons on the art of batsmanship to Malcolm White — ‘one merely had to watch the ball, get to it and hit it — childishly simple really’. Who but Hendy could possibly have promised Betty Drake “I’ll knit you a Sou’Wester sporran during the winter”? And Dick Bennett at Seaton, coming on (as was usual for him) as a speculative second change with the game critically balanced, inquires of his skipper. “Do you want me to bowl tight or get among them?” (To be fair to an often justly maligned bowler, he took 3 quick wickets and won the match!)

    The origin of the quotes of the tour feature which provides such a delicious nostalgia trip each year was a Puzzle Comer, set by the Sou’Wester Examination Syndicate. A specimen question, from the Mathematics section:

    Calculate to two significant figures the probability of Granny’s being (a) over 100; (b) over 75 but less than 100. State which two Sou’Westers have the most significant figures.

    Candidates are invited to identify who said and when:

    i    “That was a perfectly good shot, wasn’t it?”

    ii   “I played down the line, chum, but it weren’t the right line, see.”

    Come to think of it, those two characters still say precisely the same things, 25 years later.

    I WAS THERE… THE POST WAR PERIOD
    By ‘In the Gully from 1948’ (Hendy)

    What better way to spend a dark winter day than in mulling over past Sou’Wester exploits and anticipating forthcoming celebrations. It set me wondering about the environmental effects of floodlight pylons at Bridgetown (Somerset) and whether at my time of life I could afford navy blue pads and multi coloured accoutrements without substantial sponsorship.

    Two years after the resumption of the Club’s tours, and within a few months of qualifying for membership by surviving the rigours of dormitory life in the Pole Arms, Seaton, I was pitchforked into taking over as manager of the Cambridge tour. John Kahn, Peter Kitching — and Granny — described the task as a piece of cake; whilst Donald Smith remarked that his only demand of a tour manager was that he be provided with ten infallible fieldsmen. That requirement was only fleetingly achieved: but those years did provide good cricket and companionship, with welcome recruitment from the colleges and the development of our Leys connection, led by Humphrey Bashford and Neil White. A perusal of past records confirms, if that were necessary, our indebtedness to Geoff Hyde for raising sides against us and for his unfailing entertaining contributions to Club year books —under the thinly disguised classical pseudonym of Celare.

    Few present members will recall the performance of George Mathewson against Trinity Hall. George had arrived in Cambridge without gear, and the search for borrowed boots and trousers for a man of his stature was no easy matter. The consequent restriction of movement seemed to produce a sharper and more finely tuned accuracy and his figures of 7 for 23 still reverberate around Storey’s Way. That episode bears recapitulation; but I must lay one myth to rest. The rumour that on a certain occasion fixtures were arranged on the same day against three different colleges — with the alleged crisis opportunely resolved by our playing one and inviting the other two to play each other — is without foundation.

    Shortly after and totally unconnected with these groundless allegations, I was relieved by Dick Bennett, only to take over almost immediately as manager of the Devon Tour. Bruce Hart, John Brown — and Granny — described it as a piece of cake. The tour programme followed a regular pattern for some years on end, and this left more time for efforts to control the likes of Geoff Courtenay and Bob Madden-Gaskell. At one stage the US Portland match was followed by that against Lynton, requiring motoring of rally driving calibre with bizarre consequences for our batting order. John Cockett reached Lynton to find the Sou’Westers’ precariously placed at 14 for 5, with the bowlers all back in the pavilion; entering at number eight he rapidly contributed half of our final total of 160. Inevitably the fixture list saw its changes and good byes over the years; though one such change was not related to an incident on one of our past opponent’s grounds when the home umpire, in response to a vociferous Sou’Wester appeal, adjudged their number eleven batsman to be not out and declared moreover that he had got to stay there for ten more minutes till the close.

    One of the memories which still makes me stir uneasily at night is of the unseemly ribaldry which greeted my first run in three innings amongst the snow showers on the St John’s ground; as Harold Rose and I then settled in to a lengthy partnership one could afford to be magnanimous. Harold was to suffer a temporary loss of control when eight of his fieldsmen pursued an on drive down the hill at Seaton. Seventeen Sou’Westers were taking part in that match, an indication of our friendly association which Bruce Hart, Harry Parr, Colonels Leakey and Wood, G S Napier and Bert Edmonds, to name but a few, did so much to foster. The story of Granny’s hole in the bowler’s run up at Taunton, with an embarrassing confrontation saved only by the tact of the umpire, our good friend, Cecil Buttle, has been amply documented. I must return from the ridiculous to the sublime at Sidmouth, with Clive Bridgeman bowling, so effectively encouraged by the sympathetic and perceptive captaincy of Pat Mermagen. We remember J A MacDonald with affection as a good friend at Sidmouth.

    Norman Coates raised sides against us on the Devon Tour after he had stopped playing regularly. His retirement left the batting scene to be dominated by the irrepressible Geoff Courtenay both before and throughout his six years of captaincy. He was consistently supported and often matched by Chris Deacon and, turning now to members not yet named who played a significant amount for the Club, by Andrew Brown, Chris Marshall, Richard Thomson and John Stark. It is well known that all senior Sou’Westers are all rounders; and having studied a list including Granny, Malcolm White, Peter Watkin-Williams, John Haynes, John Lush and Miles Peregrine, Tim Alexander will certainly reject being placed alongside Bruce Hart, Derek Newton and Bill Mayo, bowlers pure and simple. And we have long appreciated Geoff Rya11’s reflective analysis from behind the wicket of what the Sou’Wester bowlers are or are not “doing with it”.

    All this leaves much unsaid; much good hospitality — from Ludo Grant at the Harbour Inn, for example — unacknowledged; and too many good members, such as Harry Pape. F W Stevinson and Richard Robinson, not yet mentioned, as well as numerous others who couldn’t appear as often as we and they would have liked it. It seems strange to reflect that by the early sixties Chris Alderson and Peter Yates were still only comparatively new members. 1963 saw the arrival of Chris Dean and Paddy — and the period played by Chris as bowler — sorry, all rounder — and Captain.

    I hope and believe that most if not all of the officers to whom the Club has owed so much are amongst those named in these ramblings. The omnipotence of Bruce Hart as bowler, tour manager, Hon Secretary and Captain was invaluable and truly remarkable. The great role of our late President and the Drake family has been so warmly appreciated that it defies further adequate expression; we all admired and respected Cecil Drake for his happy kindness and wisdom and friendship; no score book was ever as accurate as Betty’s nor any other Sou’Wester sweater ever of such Iamb-like softness; for many years Francis could only play intermittently when on leave, but now we are thankful to have him as Vice President. The end of the period here reviewed found us greatly indebted to Tim Alexander for his work as Hon Secretary and manager of the (by now geographically extended) Western Tour, and to Joan and himself for their hospitality at Coker Court. Continuing throughout there has been Granny — player, Captain, Vice President and latterly President. For my part. I am grateful to have been supported in this Sou’Westering by my long-suffering wife and daughters and to have shared some of Granny’s prolonged but never misspent youth. It has been a great enjoyment.

    THE SIXTIES AND ON …
    By Perpetual Motion (Chris Dean)

    Cambridge — April 1958. “See you in the Squirrel at eight”, read the note from sometime junior Sou’Wester Tony Bland — and there they all were:

    • a short, smart schoolmaster with the wily smile of the batsman who really thinks he is a leg-spinner (RGB);
    • a tiny Martlet, soon to be awarded his (light) Blue, an honour not unconnected with his extraordinary fielding at cover (RUT);
    • an (apparently) ageing giant in aged clothes talking of Jack White and Hobbs (HNEA);
    • an oratorical Scot whom everyone (rightly) assumed would make (another) fifty tomorrow (GWC);
    • an enormous swordsman who for several days I took to be an Ottoman (APFA);
    • a fleshed out version of Miles Malleson with ovine crest on blazer and constant chortle on lips (APH);
    • a putative colonial servant, son of a notable West country publican, shortly destined for Pacific Isles various (SG);
    • a stuttering raconteur recently returned from the Antipodes (JPH);
    • a young Englishman reputed to bowl like Ramadhin (but to bat and field rather better) (MDP);
    • and a brace of local Fairies.

    In my memory they were all there that evening; certainly I got to know them all as opponents during four years at Corpus and many as friends when I began to play for the Club in the early sixties.

    I arrived at Coker Court on my first Western Tour at about 11.00pm. It was blowing half a gale and when ‘Old Bob’ opened the door and showed me to the Chinese Room, I assumed I had strayed into Transylvania (was Granny Frankenstein’s latest model?). I had still not seen a Sou’Wesier when I appeared at breakfast, but Granny soon joined me and established his humanity by his reaction to a cup of ‘tea’ from a pot I had unwittingly topped up from the coffee jug. Calm was eventually restored (by Betty Drake) and I was introduced to the wonderful world of THE Western Tour. The best game I have ever played (including Tennis, Granny) is a two a side hockey after midnight with croquet mallets (and balls) in Coker Court Hall; the best pub in the world is run by the three incomparable Bs, Buff, Betty and Bert; the best cricket lunch served by Miss Dennis under thatch at Instow; the best wickets prepared by Cecil Buttle at Taunton and Geoff Bond at (the lamentably no longer operating ground) Charlton Adam; the best teas occur regularly every second day …

    The cricket posed problems in the early sixties — fearful defeats were inflicted in two day matches by the Rangers at Bovington and the Stragglers at Taunton, and humiliation suffered at Instow where a Hants and Sussex Borderer guesting for North Devon bowled us out for 24 (AND his name was Alston!). I played in all these matches, but can also claim to have witnessed the sparks which ignited the chain reactions which did much to produce the Club’s resurgence.

    1. On the 2nd September 1964 at Bideford, skipper Alexander, one short, espied a Forest School Colt clearly incapable of walking past a cricket match, be it ever so unpretentious. Thus, Martin Oliver played his first match for the Sou’Westers. Hence the continued links with Forest when Tim moved north and ultimately the ‘Appleblossom’ Connection.
    2. John Haynes’ stay in New Zealand led to Richard Bromley infecting the 1969 tour and he in turn produced Mike Barford in 1970 and the concomitant flood of Richmond hockey players in succeeding years.
    3. In 1966 the base for the Western Tour moved from Coker Court to Sparkford, and to our surprise we found ourselves playing nocturnal hockey, with hockey sticks, first circum-navigating the communal baths in the changing rooms, in 1970, anticipating Mr Packer, by flood (car head) lights and from 1974 in the palatial Hazlegrove Sports Hall. The Heazells faced a daunting task in spoiling the Sou’Westers to the degree to which they had been accustomed but responded in the grand manner. The dinners changed character, the first of the new regime in 1967 setting standards of gastronomic excellence which Julyan has reproduced year after year since at the wonderful family gatherings at Hazlegrove, Montacute and latterly, Shepton Montague. It was a great relief to learn that when Paddy moved to Hampstead his replacement, John Cann, another cricketing Headmaster, was prepared to tolerate the Sou’Wester occupation of several dormitories during the last fortnight of the summer holidays. The Club recognised the link with Hazlegrove by subscribing to an annual prize for a promising cricketer in the school. Hazlegrove saw much fun, including a few home matches. The ground was small, the wicket quixotic, but the setting lovely and it produced some memorable games, notably a tie with the Rangers in 1974.
    4. The Heazells directed the Club to an important village, Trent. The Rose and Crown became the HQ which the Three Horseshoes had been in the 30s, Buff, our incomparable host. The decade began with the Club drinking him clean out of Huntsman’s; our mutual affection has never looked back.

    Already the 1970s begin to fade into distant memories, but it was quite a decade. In the ten years, apart from abandoned games, the Club won 40 and lost only 18 of the 98 completed matches, five of these defeats occurring in the notorious 1976 season when, despite three batsmen averaging over 60, a skipper often miscalculated the penetration of his bowling resources and hence the timing of the declaration; and three times we topped 200 – and once 300 — and let the opposition outscore us. The Club played in London, at South Woodford. The Club made an overseas tour, to Portugal, m 1973, a never to be forgotten trip, notable for many things, not least the most alcoholic lunch interval ever experienced by the Club and the Manager’s appearance as the first recorded lady umpire in the Iberian Peninsula.

    The 1970s matched the golden 50s — in each case 20 centuries were scored and Mike Barford came to equal the prowess of Geoff Courtenay, Martin Oliver that of Chris Deacon. Who will forget Mike’s brilliant knock against sharp, tight Optimist bowling in 1973, the best Sou’Wester innings many of us have ever witnessed, or Martin Oliver and Bob Chambers calmly taking Sidmouth apart two years later for the highest partnership — 254 undefeated — in the Club’s history?

    TO THE EIGHTIES

    by the Captain (Mike Barford)

    The 1980s was quite a decade too — the Club won 54 and lost 21 of its 117 completed fixtures, 7 defeats coming in the 1989 season when all 13 games ended in a result. 19 centuries, almost matching the 50s and 70s, reflect the general supremacy of batsmen over bowlers in the Sou’Westers’ artillery. Sadly, the Cambridge tour in 1980 was the last one, valiant efforts by the President and others to revive it being in vain. The Club, however, toured Portugal in 1986 to find the lunches as alcoholic as they had been in 1973. Maybe the 1990 Spanish trip to La Manga will lead to more regular Easter tours, perhaps enabling the Sou’Westers to enter into the full spirit of Europe 1992 …

    The decade began with Paddy Heazell handing over the reins of Secretary to Richard Sprague, an inspired choice indeed for the Club has leaned heavily upon him. He has been much in evidence whether maintaining an iron grip over Sou’Wester behaviour at Hazlegrove, scattering croquet players at Sidmouth whilst bouncing the ball back on to the playing area off the Fortfield Hotel or providing, together with the Peet family, 8 out of 11 players plus Umpire to start the tour at Bridgetown. It is rumoured that one 6 struck at Seaton in the middle of the decade has still not returned to Earth. Richard has also managed to reorganise the tour, bringing it forward by two weeks in line with the move in school terms to enable us to continue using Hazlegrove as our base — an achievement which will only ever be fully recognised by anyone else who attempts the same conjuring trick.

    Some other very important changes took place at the beginning of the decade which were to sow the seeds for the later years. These included the recruitment of schoolboys under the auspices of Chris Dean (Simon Harley, Graham Hawley, Paul Thomas), Chris Carruthers (John Kennedy and the consequent flow of Reading University cricketers), and Peter Sprague — these players have remained with the Sou’Westers and contributed immensely to its success. A further recruit at the very start of the decade, Mark Williams, has eclipsed many of the batting performances of yesterday, scoring 1,977 runs in the 80s including 5 centuries, 2 of them both undefeated on his only two visits to the wicket in Portugal. It is especially pleasing that these and so many other new members are still able to tour alongside such illustrious Sou’Wester names as Francis and Betty Drake and Hendy, in constant support, Buff Biggin, in opposition, and Alexander and Haynes on the field, the only Sou’Westers except for the incomparable Granny every to have achieved (respectively) 300 wickets and 1,000 runs and 200 wickets and 2,000 runs.

    Whilst it is difficult to pick out highlights from so much good cricket and companionship, I will always remember the immense contribution made to the Club by the two Chris’s Dean and Carruthers. I seem to have spent much of my early years in the Sou’Westers fielding to Chris Dean’s bowling, wondering when the batsman would next make a scoring shot and it was delightful to be present when, during his 2,830th Sou’Wester over, he overhauled Granny’s record and took his 536th wicket for the Club. Chris Carruthers handed over the Captaincy in 1985 after eleven years at the helm to (at least) two other people to assume his responsibilities. One of those two people was Graham Hawley, who has taken over running the tour itself as tour manager, ably supported by Philip Spray. What a pleasure it was to see Graham’s first ever hundred, at Sparkford, and his encore the following week. If I am permitted a personal memory it is achieving a 10 wicket win against the Queries batting with Mark Williams when, following the entertainment provided by the opposition’s intrepid `Bird Man’, we were denied the record first wicket stand for the Club of 254 by a combination of a very slightly premature declaration and the unwillingness of either batsmen to attempt a winning 6.

    Already we look to the 90s. Our La Manga squad is eagerly poised for the Club’s third continental venture. The Secretary has performed his annual miracle with the West country fixture list and the Club is set fair for whatever the 90s will bring.

    . . . THE NINETIES
    by the President (Chris Carruthers)

    You must have a pretty big playing membership to sustain a two-week tour these days.” That remark, or one similar, has often been made to me and I find it difficult to give an adequate explanation. Our playing membership numbers 60, as you know, and we played 13 games in 1998 using only 21 members and, I think, nine candidates. My figures may not be quite accurate, but you will take my point. Curiously, a comparison with the 1956 year book shows much the same figures. Perhaps one needs to be a member of this club to understand how we can still play a two-week tour. The tours of so many other larger clubs have been considerably reduced.

    Our results in the nineties are very similar to previous decades when we won nearly 50% of our games and lost about 20%; the nineties are no exception. We won 47 out of 109 completed games and lost 25. Most games were, statistically, much the same except for 1995 when we won eight out of 13, 1997 when six games were abandoned (six out of 10 for the decade which shows we have usually been lucky with the weather) and 1998 when we were unbeaten, but let’s be honest, one could hardly say we were poised for victory in any of the five drawn games.

    Reading the 1956 year book brought back many memories, particularly ones which emphasise the differences between touring then and now. We used to stay in hotels! Honestly. The Pole Arms in Seaton, the Royal and Fortescue in Barnstaple, the County in Taunton. We all turned up for games wearing tweed jackets and grey flannels. We drank enormous quantities of beer in those halcyon pre-breathalyser days; we also ate as much lunch and tea as we could because there was little or no hope of finding anything to eat in the evening.

    We held the AGM in the dressing room of the pavilion at Seaton which was even smaller than it is now. However, one is also reminded that certain important things have not changed; the game’s the same, legs are still pulled unmercifully, old friends are welcomed and familiar grounds looked forward to (four of them are the same as in the thirties, so are six of our opponents).

    Let’s meander through the nineties. In 1990 the club made its third overseas tour. This time to La Manga where we were very greedy and won our three games and all the prizes and established a remarkable total of 383 for 3 off 45 overs (Kennedy, Lewis, Thomas and Phillips). We only won four games on the Western Tour despite producing very strong sides. 1991 saw the advent of a new fixture, the Flying Geese and, much more important, the return of Martin Oliver bringing with him a family destined to make a huge contribution to the club in the nineties.

    In ’92, Mike Barford resigned as captain of the club after a long and very successful period of office. We were sorry to see him go but he has continued to make a huge contribution to the club in an administrative capacity and last year there were, to our delight, three Barfords in the Sou’Wester XI. The ’93 year book also contains my nomination for the most hilarious list of quotations ever. Incidentally, the editor was doing this in 1956, too. Hendy concluded a benign and successful period of office as President, but the main feature of the ’97 tour was that Spray headed the bowling averages with 2 wickets at 3.5. No comment.

    In ’93 there was a Scottish Golf Tour, Martin Oliver averaged a ludicrous 154 and we ended a 28 year association with Hazlegrove and must record once again our gratitude to Paddy Heazell and John Cann. So in ’94 it was up the road to the senior school where we stayed happily for two years but public schools cannot afford to offer the same hospitality as they used to. They need to make money in the holidays. In ’94 we had seven batsmen averaging over 50 and six bowlers under 20 so why did we win only five games?

    ’95 was a vintage year with eight wins, three losses and two draws and the birth of the management committee. Sadly, Eric Peet died and we lost a much-loved member and it was also the last of the games against Buff Biggin’s XI, a fixture which we always enjoyed— even if we usually lost. In ’96 we went to Portugal again and won three out of three and on the Western Tour played our last game against the Geese, who ceased to fly, and our first against the Old Aluredians. ’97 was the year of six abandoned games, it rained throughout the second week, but we did play a riveting tie against the Old Aluredians. ’98 saw the first unbeaten Western Tour for many years and in ’99 the club undertook the most ambitious tour of its life. 18 players and 25 supporters flew off to South Africa in March to play seven games of cricket, amongst other activities, which are separately reported. What a surprise that must seem to the motley collection of Cambridge undergraduates who met in Bill Jones’ rooms on 27th April 1930 “to prolong the West Country season by a Devon tour in September.”

    The 1996 touring party to Portugal

    Back L-R: David Pollock, Jeremy Peet, Keith Peet, John Harman, Nick Peet, Phil McCreanor
    Front L-R: Stewart Peet, John Haynes, Mike Barford, Rod Last, Chris Haynes

    For the last four years we have been very comfortably installed in Digby House, Westcott House and Lyon House at Sherbome and this, of course, brings me to Philip Spray. He is responsible for this excellent arrangement as he has been for so much in the club during this decade. He has captained, tour managed, introduced new members, young and not so young and, he has, quite simply, done a wonderful job. From Bruce Hart to Philip Spray, the Sou’Westers have been wonderfully fortunate in their officers and that is a large part of the answer to the question that began this article. The other large part is a Tour HQ from Feniton to Lyon. What else? Oh yes, families: Peets (5), Olivers (4), Haynes (4) and Barfords (4). Where would we be without them? The tradition of lady members remains both a vital ingredient and an adornment. Another adomment is Chris Carruthers who has taken over from me as President. Blazers — what a good idea that was, John; they do add tone. Teas (this for the benefit of Chris Dean) and lunches. There is no consistent winner but there are several five star efforts. I think Bridgetown has my vote – just; it has the advantage of its setting.

    And so we look forward to the new century, with Martin Oliver at the helm. To be continued…


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