Cricket Clubs
Watching Live Test Cricket at the Pier seen by Mechanical Tele(phone)vision In 1930, well before the advent of television, the only way the game could be followed, apart from the home radio, was by means of a portable set. In those days not many people possessed one due to the weight of the sets in use at the time. As a result the evening newspapers were eagerly scanned for the latest scores. Cricket matches nowadays are being “sponsored” by many well known companies, but it may come as a surprise that the 1930 series of Tests v Australia were “sponsored” by the well known whisky firm of John Walker & Sons Ltd. It took the form of providing large scoreboards at various places in the country. Southend being one of the sites. These scoreboards were approximately 15ft by 15ft. The one at Southend was positioned near the Pier entrance, and could easily be read from Pier Hill. It was possible to watch the progress of the play instantaneously ball by ball. It was stated, quite truthfully, by John Walker & Sons, that the scoreboard during the Tests, it was like being at the match itself. The Southend Times front page for 4th July 1930, shows pictures of the board in use, and also a scene of the crowd watching, stated by them to run into thousands. The Southend Standard of 21st February 1963, has two pictures in their “News Pictures from the Past” series, that also show the scene at the Pier in the 1930 Test series. This illustration from John Walker & Sons Ltd., shows the position during the Fifth Test at the Oval in 1930, and the word “Interval” at the top (right) shows that at the time the photograph was taken play had been adjourned for tea. The pitch and wickets can be seen in the oval centrepiece, and the two batsmen, Jackson and Bradmen, were indicated by their wickets being coloured yellow and red respectively. As they made runs, these colours moved to and from to different ends. The pitch was coloured green. A white ball was mechanically moved to its position when hit to the outfield, and the name of the “fielder” appeared by a light next to his name in the team. Runs and other items were added instantly by normal scoreboard practice, a red ball being moved with a arrow pointing to the bowler. At the fall of the wicket, the word “Bowler” was shown, and the falling down of a plate bearing the word “Out” covered the batsman’s total score. All the operations were given over the telephone line direct from the ground by a team of skilled commentators to equally skilled mechanical operators. The resulting scene was very thrilling to watch, especially since we were “seeing” everything at the same time as those watching the game itself. The crowd were able to give a tremendous roar, when an Australian wicket fell, and likewise they were able to show their dismay at the fall of a England wicket. When the innings closed, the team names were reversed on the board. The panel with the word “Interval” was changed when necessary. The figure of Johnnie Walker duly raised his hat at exciting parts of the play, and when the names shown on the board, this often happened. The final message on the board read “THE LAST BAWL OF THE DAY JOHNNIE WALKER”.
Milton Hall Cricket Club On 17th November 1864 Milton Hall Cricket Club was formed. The first minutes recorded that the meeting to form the Milton Hall Club was held at the Spread Eagle at Prittlewell under the chairmanship of the Lord of the Manor, Mr Daniel Scratton of Prittlewell Priory. He allowed the club the use of his Milton Hall ground, and perhaps naturally, was elected President. Mr P. J. Wade was secretary. It was decided to play a match at Southend against a United South of England XI provided sufficient subscriptions were obtained. United South scored 60 and 96 and Milton Hall replied with 89 and 69. Dr. W. G. Grace was beginning his great cricketing career at that time, and like other famous cricketers of the period often played for United South. But he did not come to Southend. At a meeting in January 1865, another match against United South was proposed and challenges were sent to Grays, Herongate and Danbury for home and away matches. The Vicar of Prittlewell, Rev. S. R. Wigram was appointed vice-president. At the next meeting, Messrs Gilchrist and Fordham of Middlesex offered to give subscriptions to the club provided they could play in the match with Untied South, but their offer was rejected because they did not live in Essex. The match developed into a contest between an All England XI and the Milton Hall Club. It was decided to engage Frank Silcock to play in the local team for a fee of £3.10s. Silcock had taken 11 wickets in the previous season against United South. Mr. T. Hunt was engaged as umpire for £2, canvas around the ground cost £3.5s to hire, and six policemen were engaged for three days. A man was engaged for a fortnight in getting the ground in good order. The expenses of the match were £129.19s.9d., and the cash taken at the gate amounted to £96.6s.3d. Subscriptions were £61.5s.6d. Although these and other details were given in the minutes’ book about this grand match against All England, there is no record of the result of the two-day match. Five years after the formation the secretary, recording the minutes of the club’s annual meeting, wrote: “End of Milton Hall Cricket Club. Remainder is Prittlewell Cricket Club.” Southend Cricket Club Southend Cricket Club was formed on 27th March 1874. The club’s first match was with Stock C.C. in May 1874, and although no scores were published, it was stated that “The players on either side were in excellent condition.” In the next match at home, Southend scored 85 and Southminster 78. Southend Cricket Club arranged a “Great Comic Festival” on their Milton Hall ground on 15th and 16th July 1874. The programme included a match between the “Famous London Clown Cricketers” and 16 members of the Southend Club. An advertisement stated: “The eleven will be selected from some of England’s greatest cricketers and clowns in grotesque dresses. The cricketers will include A. Trelore (capt.), S. Shaw, Barrett, Featherstone, McIntyre, Charlwood and Pattenden. The Clowns: Funny Franks, Fisher, Emmett, Ball, Butler. Lloyd Clarance, the brothers de Vold, and the brothers Loco.” The advertisement added that in the evening the clowns would perform “mirth, music and mimicry, concluding with splendid limelight effects and a most laughable, comical and extraordinary shadow pantomime.” People who gave a donation to the club were presented with a special reserved ticket to the match. The Standard reported: At the end of the first day’s play, the Southend club had scored 96 and the following day the Clowns scored 87. “Thus against all the professional talent, the Southend amateurs proved victorious.” Apparently the clowns were not as funny as the advertisement had claimed. The Standard reported: “As regards the clowning, we were greatly disappointed that there was none of the quips and wanton smiles. We expected laughter but we were deceived and clowns in the crowd could have caused more merriment.” Reporting on the last match of the season, between the married and single members, the Standard recorded: “This club, which has only been in existence during the present summer, has shown itself equal to many that have claimed the palm of superiority and proved itself far more successful than its promoters had anticipated. It has played several of the leading clubs in the county and came off victorious, only losing two matches in the whole season.” What did Southend Cricket Club members do until the next season? They played football and formed their own glee party! Rochford Cricket Club Rochford Cricket Club was formed in 1879 and at first played in a field near Rochford. But as most of the members lived in Southend, the club moved to Southend under the name of the Rochford Hundred Cricket Club. The President was Rev. F. Thackeray, Vicar of Shopland, who was a public figure in Southend and a cousin of the great Victorian author. He was a member of the M.C.C. and played for them in the celebrated match at Rugby described in “Tom Brown’s Schooldays.” The story says he was a “long-armed, bareheaded, slashing-hook player who steals more runs than any other man in England.” Mr. J. Page was treasurer and Mr. C. W. Godfrey was secretary. There were 80 members. The first match was on 9th May 1879 when Great Wakering scored 155 and Rochford, the home side, 135. Philip Benton Jnr., a member of the Rochford Club, played for Great Wakering and scored 42. Rochford played on a Milton Hall ground pitch but it was reported that when “this promising young club” was beaten by West Kent Wanderers by 24 runs, long grass was blamed as a serious hindrance to run-getting, and the cause of much complaint by visitors. In 1880, the Milton Hall cricket ground in what is now Park Road became the new Southend Park. The Southend Observer reported that “shady nooks had been provided for whispering lovers,” but the park was closed on Sundays. The part of the ground used by Rochford Hundred Cricket Club remained untouched. There was a severe frost in January 1881, and the Southend Town Band played as hundreds skated on the frozen lake.
The Milton Hall cricket field was being used for cricket by 1864 and it is shown on the development plan of the surrounding area in 1869. The plan shows the site of the Hamlet Windmill and the lake in the park. In November, 1880 it was reported that the owner of Southend Park as it became known Mr. W. Steward, was to provide a “bicycle route,” and on Easter Monday the following year over 1,500 people attended the first cycle races. The trophies included 25 guineas cup for the championship of Essex. The park became a centre for cricket, football, cycling and ice skating, plus social events until the 1870s when it was sold by the Lord of the Manor on condition that it was for ever to remain a pleasure ground and never covered by buildings. Later the Court of Chancery allowed building on the park site.
1950 County Cricket. Essex v. New Zealand at Southchurch Park
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