Cow Pats and Cricket Bats by Maurice Barnett ©.
1887 was not just 'any ordinary year', it was in fact the centenary of the M.C.C. formed in Dorset Square, London, on Thomas Lord's ground in 1787 (and subsequently moved to St Johns Wood in 1814).
Queen Victoria had reigned for fifty glorious years, we believe it was in the wake of the village jubilee celebrations that local sportsmen (having had more than a hundred years to think about it) formally established Nether Whitacre Cricket Club.
Nether Whitacre C.C. were almost certainly in existence prior to 1887, although the Club may have disbanded in the early 1880's to be 'officially' reformed in 1887. There are records of occasional matches played by Whitacre men before 1887, details of two such matches against our neighbours Water Orton have been preserved. Unfortunately, there are very few early copies of the local newspapers in existence and only 1875 and 1881 copies are available until 1887. There was no record of the Club in existence in 1875 but some games were played in the early 1880's.
|J Laferelle||Watkins||Clemson||M Howman||Johnson|
|F Billing||Cupit||T White||Lafarelle|
|S Day||Oldham||Cupit||W Watkins||Johnson|
|F Billing||Clemson||T Cupit||Not Out|
|Barber||Run Out||J Brindley||Lafarelle|
|Edmonds||Watkins||C Dale||Not Out|
|Morrison||Not Out||W Hayfield|
|All Out||TOTAL||6 Wickets||TOTAL|
|C Dale||Hansnip||Day||F Billing||Cupit|
|A Dale||Butler||Day||A Hansnip||Dring||Clemson|
|Butler||Not Out||Some of the entries for this Innings are missing.|
|May 7th||Fillongley at Whitacre|
|May 14th||Coleshill Unity at Whitacre|
|May 21st||Meriden at Whitacre|
|June 4th||Coleshill Unity at Whitacre|
|July 23rd||Saltley Unity at Whitacre|
|August 6th||Meriden at Meriden|
|September 10th||Saltley Unity at Whitacre|
A most incredible score was recorded by Whitacre against Meriden on August 6th 1881:
Since the original publication
of this book we have discovered that this feat is not unique in
amateur cricket. However it is clear that it does not happen very
often anywhere in the world and the Club has the 'dubious honour'
of being associated with it. The local Coleshill Chronicle described
it as follows:
"In publishing this score, we should imagine that it is unique in the annuals of cricket; it certainly is so far as our experience goes in this district."
|Meriden||73 All Out|
|Handscombe||c & b||Watson||
Incidentally, on the same day the score between Maxstoke and Over Whitacre was recorded:
Over Whitacre 15
No doubt many, if not all, of the Whitacre cricketers whose names are recorded, played a significant role, in laying a sound and permanent foundation for our Club in 1887.
Evidence from a very early photograph indicates that the following gentlemen of the district also gave their support to this new sporting venture:- Messrs Potter (Draper), Shingler (Grocer), Swain, Collins (Jeweller), and Whitehouse.
The usual attendance was around ninety people, and profits £4-10-0 or thereabouts. By todays standards this was a huge sum of money.Fund raising was also arranged via whist drives.
Unfortunately, our formal club documents are not available prior to 1907 (we have meeting minutes from then onwards) and consequently our account of the first twenty years is somewhat lacking in details and is based on memories of those who knew and conversed with founder members or their friends and relatives.
I recall as a keen ten year old lad, living in the station house, being told by our next door neighbour, retired signalman Tommy Chance, how he and Charlie Dale (platelayer ganger) used to play in the newly formed team on the ground near the Church. It was in fact the field opposite the Old rectory, immediately beyond the cross roads, on the way to 'The Dog Inn' ( and the Church!).
Players, officials and close supporters in
those early days, before the turn of the Century are only known
from the foregoing evidence, but we do know that from the following
played for the Club around 1902:-
Fred Birch, J Houghton, C Dale, Frank Birch, T Birch, T Holl, Sid Birch, L Wech, Walter Birch, T Harrison, Rev. H E Metcalfe, P Welch, W Leighton, J Affleck, ? Hill, R Affleck, W Jerromes.
For some reason the Club did not function in 1906, but operated again the next year under the Chairmanship of Mr F Whitehouse. The President being The Rev. M Metcalfe, Captain W Birch and Secretary/ Treasurer W Jerromes.
Club meetings in the early days were held in
The Railway Hotel or the school. The Committee announced on March
19th 1907, when they met at the former venue, that the present
ground opposite Coton Road would be hired from Farmer
J Baylis for the sum of £2 per annum for cricket activities. A field well trod and fertilized by grazing cattle- a factor which prevailed as a threat to fingers and flannels until the 1950's.
A generous donation to meet this rent was given by Mr P Barues (Swan Landlord) and numerous Whist Drives (a popular social occasion) were organized to meet the costs of new ground tackle and kit.