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Nether Whitacre Cricket Club

 Cow Pats and Cricket Bats by Maurice Barnett ©.

Chapter Four

Chapters: [Introduction] [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [12] [13] [14] [Appendix]

A Fresh Guard-Into The Twenties


Arthur Bayliss was amongst those who, thankfully did return. He and nineteen other Members attended a General Meeting on Wednesday April 9th 1919, determined to 'pitch stumps' again after such a long and catastrophic interruption to play.

Rev. Fenn was re-elected President, Bill Leighton Captain and W Powell, secretary. For the first time Arthur Bayliss's name appears on the Committee- a name which predominated throughout the Club's activities as Captain, Secretary and Treasurer until 1946.

Arthur, (like his brother Frank) was a big chap physically and at heart; but I will always remember him, with affection, as a kind and gentle man. One who lived at the farm next to The Swan all of his life and had so many varied interests - but none greater than his love for our summer game, to which he gave so much of his time, both on and off the field.

Both his brothers dominated the Club's playing activities during the twenties and early thirties, when they shone equally with bat and ball. Arthur who was a very good spin bowler (another of that time was David Hood) and Frank (who had a trial for the County - an accolade those days) was an above average left arm fast bowler. As a lad, I have seen them demolish more than one good batting side.

The record for our initial post war season was good:-
Played 16, Won 11, Lost 3, Drawn 2, Abandoned NIL
It must have been a dry year!

The Club had 52 members- a record still to be broken.

It is interesting to note that inflation appears to be an unknown word then- transport remaining cheap. Conveyance cost to Fillongley, Coleshill, Dunton and Arley by horse and brake totaled £1-6-0.

In the early twenties the subscription was 5/- Seniors and 2/6 Juniors, Harry Spare was Secretary and Treasurer. Harry then resigned as our supreme 'Slogger'. It was always six or out with him and more often than not he dispatched the ball into Thompson's orchard or adjacent gardens before slashing at one too many.

Arthur Bayliss was elected Captain in 1921 and did not relinquish this position until eleven years later.

That year heralded the purchase of a new pavilion for a total cost of £41-7-9. this was an amenity which was to last until 1930. Up to this point, apart from the storage shed the Club 'made do' with a couple of old round corrugated munition huts - relics from the war.

During these years of recovery, village life centered around many flourishing activities in the parish - the Church, the Chapel, the Locals, The Bowling Greens, Whist Drives, dances and concerts in the Mission Room and Football - but the keen interest shown by so many in the fortunes of the Cricket Club was second to none. In fact, on match days, particularly on Whit Monday and August Monday, the ground was often ringed with spectators. This prompted the committee in 1923 to charge non members 4d admission - a step which was not well received by the locals, who refused to 'fork out' and looked over the hedge instead. The plan was abandoned the next season and substituted by the more tactful and voluntary collection box.

Most of the fixtures during this decade (and indeed the next thirty years) were on our own ground. Numerous teams were formed in Birmingham without grounds and even those with this facility often preferred to spend a pleasant afternoon in the country. In those days and in fact up to the time that Dr Beeching closed the station, a good train service operated from New Street, Saltley and Bromford Bridge to Whitacre and hundreds of cricketers and their families must have trudged the mile to Station and Ground and back again, for the sake of 'King Willow'.

The provision of teas became a problem in 1923 and opened the way for a new institution to be born. 'Teas at The Swan'. Looking back, this did not appear to be a particularly social occasion, as come the interval, many home players scattered to distant parts of the village for a quiet cuppa, leaving our opponents to partake of the landlady's fare virtually alone. Such intervals often exceeded the desired half hour and on occasion contributed to more than one drawn game.

For many years a Christmas Draw became an important means of income and the first recorded took place in 1924 and made a profit of £23-13-8.

Considerable attention was paid to the upkeep of the wicket at this time and Mr R Rose was "asked to proceed with laying turf on the wicket from the outer areas of the ground". Reuban, who also looked after the bowling green, did a fair amount of work for the Club after the war.

By now the Swan had changed hands and Teddy McLoughlin was 'the gaffer' and a very keen supporter he proved to be, becoming Chairman for six years.

Needless to say for most seasons in the twenties the Bayliss Brothers alternated between first and second for the bowling and batting prizes.

It was in 1926 that I made my first acquaintance with Nether Whitacre Cricket Club.

My father had become master of the village station and at the age of ten, on my brand new first bike, I set off to explore the village one Saturday afternoon and found myself in the field opposite Thompson's shop in Coton Road. A match was in progress.

From that time onwards I became an avid supporter, armed with an exercise book, pencil and rubber to keep the score and regularly crawling through a convenient hole in the boundary hedge to retrieve the 'six hits' which came (so I seem to remember) with pleasing regularity from the swipes of Harry Spare, Charlie Clintseales and Frank Bayliss. I suppose the opposition managed a few likewise - but I can't remember them.

So began my sixty year plus association with the Club.

This little history therefore no longer relies on old records and second-hand information exclusively, but hopefully reflects the numerous remenisciencies of my friends and contemporaries, together with a wealth of personal memories.

In 1927, the Club experience difficulties with the state of the ground due to our landlords decision to allow the village football team to play on it during their full season. The wicket, due to the smallness of the ground, fell right on the centre circle, with the resultant decimation of the turf lovingly tendered by our groundsman. Fixtures were arranged away from home the following season, during the early weeks to allow some recovery. But the bowlers held advantage that year.

A series of new names appeared on the scene in the twenties - names which enhanced the village cricket team for many years. they included:- A Ensor, T Ensor, D Hood, F Houghton, H Wall,, L Chance, Bill (square cut) Freeman, G Arme and F Silvester. (No doubt some readers will recall others who should be mentioned, but who have been omitted due to lack of records or my lapses of memory)

The following results from the mid twenties confirm that we had a very good team:-

 
 1925
1926
1927
Played
 22
25
21
Won
13
16
16
Lost
2
6
3
Drawn
2
1
1
Abandoned
5
2
1

We did not keep up this standard during the next decade, but we 'held our own'.

 

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