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Information supplied by Rex Beard, and Ted Cooper. 1999.

programme1.jpg (64535 bytes)Before World War Two, there were several young boys living in the village. Money was very tight as it was during the days of the recession so there were few toys or games available.  It must be remembered too, that Radio was in its infancy, there was no television or computers to occupy youngsters, in fact hardly any child even owned a bicycle.

From this background many of the boys used to congregate at Chippets Farm owned by Mr. and Mrs. Porter. They had three sons, Tom, George and John and the village boys used to meet there because the Porters boys had to work on the farm after school and when they had completed their duties they were free to play with the local lads already there and waiting for them. The main games played were cricket and football according to the season. There was no proper equipment for these games, but they used bats cut from willow trees. Tom had made an especially wide curved one, which he always used. You can imagine how these primitive bats stung the batsman's hands when the ball hit it. At one time the Porter boys had a pair of boxing gloves and Tom and George really did go to town on each other. And so the boys all enjoyed their spare time and grew up very good friends.

Then came World War II, and the young men, as they were by now, were called up to the Army, Navy and Air force, excepting of course, the Porter brothers, who were farmers and their work was important too. When  the servicemen came home on leave they would usually make their way to visit the Porter brothers and often have a game of cards as there was never enough on leave at one time to play cricket or football.

After the conclusion of the War (six long years), the servicemen were gradually demobbed, all received their demob suits and were to take up their old lives and jobs again. They began to meet up again as before, but mainly on a Sunday morning as they were working during the week, 48-hour week in those days, and had girlfriends or wives. They would still have a game of football or cricket to while away their time and Rex Beard suggested that they should form a club to play either football or cricket. They looked around at each other and felt that there would not be too many years of football left in them so elected to form a Cricket Club. Fred McCauley said no football no cricket so he did not join. After many meetings at Chippets Farm to get things off the ground, Mrs. Porter kindly provided cocoa and home-made cakes for members of the Committee. Rex Beard was appointed Chairman and was to hold the position for 25 years, his younger brothers Ted and Dennis, who were born and bred in the village as was their mother and grandfather (son of Robert Smith, see under Brick and Tile) before them, Jim Cant, Dennis Cant, Derek and Michael Ralph, Ben and Tim Firmin, R. Hoskins, Ted Cooper, Vic Wickens, Tom and George Porter, David Kettle. Not all were regulars. Tom Porter had a motorbike at that time and used to give the lads rides around the fields, a great thrill for them as money was short and motorbikes like everything else were virtually unobtainable at that time of austerity. The first game was played at Chippets Farm, the very first was against Lexden followed by Chapel, then Marks Tey. They were all friendly games, there was no league at the time. Playing at Chippets Farm was not really suitable, and they kept losing the balls (an expensive commodity) so it was decided that they would try and form a Pitch on Fordham Heath.

Don Funnel, who was the Secretary to the Parish Council was approached, who suggested they make an Application to the Parish Council, also permission from the Agriculture Minister was required and the Lord of the Manor of the Heath. The Lord of the Manor, a Mr. Timothy Greenby came down from London, and raised no objections and after much correspondence the Club received a 99 year lease and a peppercorn rent of 1.

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The photo left, was taken on the day of the Opening, in front of the new Pavilion. The names are as follows starting from the left standing: Reg Ralph, Drummer Mills, Stan Govis, Bob Jeckalls, Richard Lindsey Geoff Pulford, George Porter, Fred Hynes (Umpire), Seated from the left: Albert (Digger) Kettle (Player for the “U’s), Rex Beard (Chairman), Sir Len Hutton, Richard Pulford, Peter Smith (Essex & England), David Kettle, (brother to Digger), Ted Ives.

The first year all matches were played away as the ground on Fordham Heath was being prepared, the ground was pretty rough even though it had been used for football, cricket and cattle grazing for many years! As many members as could be mustered on a Sunday morning were to be seen pulling up tufts of grass which was like pampas grass - six feet tall, cutting the wicket with shears, cutting down brambles etc. Moles were very evident. Everything was tried to get rid of them, i.e. mole fireworks, brambles stuck into the runs and any other idea that was offered. Eventually the most effective cure was a prayer said by Dennis Barber who lived in Lucy Lane. The team did not start off with many members about 16, but sometimes made up with two older residents, Ted Cornwell and Harry Beck. There was a yearly subscription of 10shilling (50p). To raise funds we had Whist drives and Dances with a big Drive and Draw at Christmas. We even tried Bingo and Beetle drives and a Football Sweep at 3d (11/ 2p) a ticket.

At the start of the Club we had second hand equipment, some came from Benhams and some from the R.E.M.E. cricket club.  Benhams gave Rex Beard first refusal on their Cricket equipment after they had purchased a completely new stock. It was discussed by the committee, and decided to accept the offer and Rex was to collect the princely sum of 6d (21/2p) per week from the members of the club, often with difficulty, as some did not like parting with their money.

 
At the end of 1951 the area was ploughed up and either seeded or turfed, so during 1952 all the matches were played away. For two years the Club was challenged by the Locals, their team comprising Jim Southernwood, Ted Cornwell, Bill Shelley, Billy Poole, Fred Stewart, Tim Firman, Dennis Cant, Jack Beard (older brother to Rex), Tit Kettle, Harry Beck, Louis King, Umpire Fred Hynes, Spectator Wilf Cant. The scores and winners is now lost down memory lane but everyone enjoyed the games.

In the early days the Village men walked or cycled to the Star (now the Cricketers) and there was a well-worn path through the middle of the Cricket pitch!. One Sunday afternoon, when there was a match in progress, one of the gentlemen, who lived in Wood Lane, left the Star after imbibing, and started off for home on a short cut across the aforementioned path!. When he crossed the boundary, the match stopped, he was escorted across the pitch and introduced to several of the players on his journey. The next time a match was in progress he wended his way home on the outside of the boundary.


There were two Umpires at this time, Bill Ralph and Fred Hynes. Committee meetings were held occasionally at the Brick and Tile but mainly at the Star after it had been rebuilt. During the Sunday home matches tea was provided by the member’s wives and girlfriends, the landlord of the Star liked the matches to finish after 7pm (the then Sunday opening time) so that the visiting team and supporters could refresh themselves before leaving for home.

Many of the villagers were sceptical and thought that the Club would be a nine day wonder, but thanks to the driving force of our Chairman and the great support of all the local residents, who was behind them all the way, the Club thrived. The Christmas draws were a great success as were the Whist Drives with the Village Hall being packed, they even had to have a non-player to act as the “cutting table”. The members all donated prizes as did many of the residents. Ted Cooper was usually at the entrance door to collect the admission fee. There was a break after 12 hands for a cup of tea and to buy raffle tickets.
Meanwhile they were getting more ambitious, playing more games at home on the gradually improving the ground, and raising funds all the time, apart from Whist drives, there were dances, with a big drive and Draw at Christmas, Bingo and Beetle drives and a Football sweep at 3d (1 1/2p) a ticket.

Their sights were on a Pavilion of their own!. Somewhere to change before and after the match, somewhere for the wives and girlfriends to provide tea for both teams during the interval, and somewhere to shelter when it rained!. More permission had to be sought, more funds raised until 1960!. The Pavilion was built and completed on Fordham Heath adjacent to the Cricket Ground. On the 26th June 1960 the Pavilion was opened by Sir Leonard Hutton and Eight Ash Green Cricket team played a team including Sir Leonard Hutton, Peter Smith (England and Essex) Ray Smith, R. Clarke (Suffolk).

1969 saw the 21st year of the Club!!. An Anniversary Party was held at Chippets Farm, Mrs. Barbara Kettle (wife of Digger) made an 18lb cake in the form of a book which is shown in the Photo below.

From left to right in the picture below is Digger Kettle, Rex Beard, Bob Jeckalls, (Unknown), Ted Cooper, David Kettle and George Porter.

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Above, an Invitation to the Eight Ash Green Cricket Club's 21st Anniversary party at Chippetts Farm, Eight Ash Green.

 

Since then the Beards, Kettles, Porters and others have gone, they have been replaced by many other able players, such as the Hammonds, David Merriday, and Richard Parker who excels at fund raising, Jenny & Neil Brinded Treasurer and Fixtures Secretary, and others too many to mention. The Club is well known and respected and competes in many League games with excellent results. The members are not required to be residents of Eight Ash Green, but are expected to uphold the good name of the Club and the Village. Long may they continue and go on with the Best Wishes of all who follow their fortunes.

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Last updated:  20 May 2004 21:47:15