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Down Memory Lane at Harlow Cricket Club: Memories of Dr Norman Booth’s X1

Cricket / Sun 12th Mar 2023 at 03:25pm

Down Memory Lane at Harlow Cricket Club by Alan Howick

ONE of our ‘unsung’ heroes from the 1950’s up to his passing in 1972 was a local doctor, Norman Booth who championed almost anything regarding games and sports. Whether it be soccer, tennis, hockey or his first love, cricket. His picture can be seen hung in our club house as an umpire during a match around 1950 and standing outside our first Victorian club house. 

Whilst searching through a mound of old and dusty scorebooks I came across the Dr Booth XI Scorebook dating from a match played at Long Ley against Netteswell & Burnt Mill CC on the 16th August 1959 and ends on the 28 August 1972 at Matching Green which brings back rather fond memories to me in particular at Matching and more about this, I must tell you………

I am down as playing in the game. Typical Dr Booth, he would ring around as many people as he could, to make sure he had an eleven. And I clearly recall we had thirteen turn up as shown in the scorebook.

Sadly or ironically, the good doctor could not be reprimanded as he died during the period between his selection telephone calls and the actual day of the match. The day was vivid as if it were recent. 

An all-day game. Lunch and tea in The Chequers and it were a bitterly chilly morning. We also batted first, thank goodness. I clearly remember standing in the public bar watching the game through the window along with most of our team including some batsmen already padded up. Looking at the scorebook tells you why  we were safely tucked away in the pub. Ivan Smith (opening) scored 111, probably before lunch) and coming in at number 3, Alf Mealing with a typically brutal 151. Not much for us to do other than watch in the warmth. We declared on 305 for five! 

Matching response was a plucky all out for 219 Peter Weaver (well known to many of us) easily the highest score for the green, with 107.

The doctor made sure he could play the local (some now formally) village teams with his own side packed out with ‘star’ players being both past and present and recently retire Harlow cricketers. The names  of these, for someone  of my age run off the tongue with these fine talented players. Such as Gladwin, Short, Swingler (Well Arthur was a good turn at the bar), Debnam, Silcock, Asplin, Mealing, Ivan Smith, plus a few up and coming colts of likes of The O’Leary twins. Pete Barrett, Mike Shinner and a few more.

The opposition were frequently played against two or three times a summer such as Matching Green and Netteswell. Also, some games were played on now, long lost grounds in Harlow. Such as Gt Parndon CC at Parndon (Where abouts, opposite the pub perhaps) St Margaret’s Hospital 1st XI but where? Harlow Hospital XI but no ground mentioned, Netteswell & Burnt Mill played at Northbrooks (opposite the pub for sure) Key Glassworks at Maypole Corner. Now there is game worth mentioning!

 I played for the Doctors XI there, its in the book – opening bowler, tidy 4/46 off nine overs and getting Jones out, the brilliant West Indian Stort opener clean bowled, albeit, giving a big swing at a straight one having just completed his ton! (August/67). He had a good day did Jonesy, opening bat with 110 and then opened the bowling – 18 overs 6/65! But he didn’t get my wicket.

I do not expect to many of you out there will remember or even been around in the sixties, but it was fun and made lifelong friends.

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