A detailed history of Cookham Dean Cricket Club will appear here soon....
Team Photograph of CDCC c1900.
David Harris has very kindly sent us this history documenting CDCC from 1945-55. If anyone has any further information from Cookham Dean's history then contact Jonathan Gay at firstname.lastname@example.org.
COOKHAM DEAN CRICKET CLUB REMEMBERED: 1945-1955
My father, Bill Harris, was from a long line of Harris’s that lived at Cookham Dean, most recently at Holly Cottage on the Common, when it was a modest cottage, not the building there now of the same name. My great grandfather and his wife had been the second couple to marry at St. John the Baptist, Cookham Dean, shortly after the church was consecrated. Before WW2 Dad was captain of the Cookham Dean Football Club and also played for the Cookham Dean Cricket Club. After the war he played only cricket, on Saturdays, not Sundays. Like so many men of that time he lost what would have been his five best years of cricket, spent instead in North Africa and Italy with the Royal Hampshire Regiment.
From 1945 onwards our Saturdays never varied, after lunch we rode bikes to Cookham Dean from Furze Platt to watch the home game of the First XI on the Common where Dad was playing or we walked down Gardner’s Road to be picked up by the team coach at the railway bridge on the way to an away game. Since the coach started out at the Chequers pub at Dean Bottom, and, since it seemed difficult to get the team out of the pub on time, they always arrived late to pick us up. My mother wasn’t happy.
In those days it never rained on Saturdays and, home or away, my mother always packed a quite sumptuous picnic tea. As a small boy of then five onwards, it couldn’t get better than this. The problem with going by coach was that we always stopped on the way back from an away game at any Wethered’s pub that we passed. The team seemed to be addicted to Wethered’s beer and sometimes we stopped more than once. My mother wasn’t happy.
Attached is a team photo taken in 1947. Where was the photo taken? In the book “The Archive Photographs of Cookham” the same photo is reproduced but unfortunately with the wrong date and the wrong place. The photo was taken at the Odney Club during a one day game there. It was one of the few fixtures where the game started at 11.00am and, had the camera panned round, you would have seen a small boy aged seven, me actually, watching the photo being taken. Notice also that the whole team is wearing the same type of cap, a dark blue with coloured bands. They had been ordered at the start of that season and it has to be said that the team always turned out immaculately, not just for photographs.
Let’s look at some of the people in the photo.
Bill Harris, my father, is in the back row towards the left. He was a good batsman, usually at 4 or 5 but never a bowler. He had one of the safest pair of hands in the team and he always seemed to be fielding under the big tree in front of Marge Wilson’s shop. I watched him take numerous catches there and never one dropped.
Maurice Taft was captain, and a fine opening bowler.
Percy Garrett, vice captain and wicket keeper. In all the years I knew him he was never called anything other than “Colonel”. He never was an army Colonel, he ran the Chequers pub at the Dean and even his nephews and nieces, who were my cousins, knew him as Uncle Colonel. He was a big man in every sense of the word and certainly looked every bit of the part as Colonel. A great wicket-keeper, not very agile, but he stood up to the wicket even with the fast bowlers and seldom did the ball get past.
Peter Garrett, in this photo one of the younger members of the team, developed into one of the best batsmen of local cricket. He would have graced any county side. When I was 15 I had the pleasure of watching Peter play for the Julian Cup team against Maidenhead and Bray during their Cricket Week. He took the Bray bowlers apart with one of the fastest and most elegant centuries ever seen at Bray. During the tea interval he was presented with a new bat and he came across and gave me the one that he had just used. What more could a boy want than that.
Rupert Tisdale, a good opening bowler and sound batsman.
Albert Gough, the oldest member of the team then. I have watched him while batting, standing at the bowlers end and calling for an impossible single. The batsman at the striker’s end shouted “No” and Albert would keep his bat in the crease and then run round the bat. Panic would ensue, fielders rushing in, and four overthrows usually resulted.
Jack Tomlin, a great opening bat. He went on to play for High Wycombe and for Bucks, in the Minor Counties game and also played soccer for Wycombe Wanderers when they reached the final at Wembley of the FA Amateur Cup.
Fred Dyer, seen here as a player but better remembered as an umpire when Fred Woodbridge retired, and he was also the Club Secretary for many years.
Not featured in the photo, but a good servant of the Club, was Bob Lewington, groundsman and preparer of the wicket, who lived in the row of houses opposite the Hare and Hounds pub. His son Raymond played for the Dean and then did very well with the Boyn Hill club. It should, by the way, be illegal to change the name of a pub just to make it sound more attractive. For me it will always be The Hare and Hounds.
Another good servant of the Club, and featured in the photo, was Mr W. Taft who for many years was the meticulous scorer, home and away.
I also remember fondly Stan Copas, always known as Snowy. He was worth his place in the team as the one who made everyone laugh and who in July used to come to games with a big basket of cherries.
What I do remember, particularly when I later played for this team, was how unsympathetic they were if any one was injured while playing. I recall one batsman being hit a nasty blow in a delicate area. There was a metallic thud and the guy fell like he’d been pole axed. Someone in the slips called out “Box on” and they all fell about laughing.
Who did Cookham Dean play against? There were no league fixtures in those days so the team played against those clubs with whom Fred Dyer had agreed a fixture. Cookham Dean was an interesting venue, it was village green cricket at its very best and teams vied with each other to play here. When A.G. MacDonell wrote “England their England”, with his description of a village cricket match, with the blacksmith, the fast bowler, disappearing over the hill with his run-up, he must have had Cookham Dean in mind. The BBC sent a team one year and we all turned up with autograph books. A team of Oxford dons, known as the Emeritus, played against us every year, home and away, and, for the first time, I found that old gentlemen could walk round in bright coloured blazers and caps and play cricket wearing a cravat; Balliol colours of course but what did I know, a little village boy. Odney Club at Odney was a regular fixture and this was always an all day game, with lunch for the players as well as tea, very posh. We played at Donnington, near Newbury, in the shadow of the ruins of Donnington Castle. In the Julian Cup, the oldest limited overs game in the history of cricket, we played against Aspro in Slough, on an immaculate ground, and their team included an ex Australian test player. I’m not sure what job he had there but it did cause some comment locally as not being in the spirit of village green cricket.
The pitch on the Common was interesting because the road across the Common, by the Hare and Hounds pub, was part of the pitch so fielders chasing the ball also had to keep an eye on cars coming, fortunately a rare event in those days. Sometimes the ball hit the pub sign that was on the pitch and no-one quite knew what to do, four runs in fact if you hit the sign.
As we came to 1955 I was playing for the Second Eleven, when not playing at school, and one day I had a late call up to the First Team as wicket keeper as Colonel Garrett wasn’t available. Fearful at first and certainly not standing up to the fast bowlers as he did, I took four catches, one a diving catch somewhere south of leg slip. The Colonel would have been proud of me.
They were very happy days, long gone, never to return. The sun always shone and, as Rupert Brooke hoped, the church clock did stand at ten to three and there was honey still for tea. They were a great team of guys who laughed all day whatever happened, never a cross word, and who put up with a small boy like me as a part of the team. And they also played some wonderful cricket.