(Part 5, Chapter 3, Section 1) ( Bk. Index )

Cricket in Angmering


The fact that cricket is an ancient sport in Sussex is peculiarly relevant. It was played on social and festive occasions long before any formal foundation of a village club for Angmering. It may well be that cricket was being played so often, with local villages and other ad hoc teams, that it was simply decided to formalise reality by continuing the club with matches organised on a regular basis. This would have been facilitated by the provision of a fixed site.

The date of foundation may have been a convenient fiction of memory, in answer to queries by a later generation. If records were not kept, or were lost, nor was there an historian available to fix the date until another century had dawned. When Harris and Skeet arrived on the scene, folk memory had faded, and in any case they were more interested in manors and the economy than sport.

Any research today has to glean information from such newspapers and journals as existed in the 18th and 19th centuries, in order to find the occasional match thought worthy of print space.  There are Brighton and other Sussex papers dating from the 18th century, but to their editors Angmering was an out of the way place of little moment. It was not until the arrival of the West Sussex Gazette in 1856, that any regular sports reporting took place.

Modern cricket began after 1750 with the foundation of the Hambledon club, and village cricket was the bedrock on which county cricket was based in 1850.

There is an isolated reference to a local match, played as a social occasion, in 1797. This was when the yeomanry, raised by Lord Egremont of Petworth, were in the area,  and gave Sir Cecil Bishopp of Parham the chance for a little social networking, with a party on Highdown. James Collice, of the Lamb Inn, providing the repast.

Sussex Weekly  Advertiser 10th July 1797
“A Cricket Match to be played by Eleven Gentlemen of Lord Egremont’s Troop of Yeoman Cavalry, against Eleven of Sir Cecil Bisshop's on Highdown Hill, on Friday next the 14th  Instant at  9 o'clock in the morning.   A good Dinner will be provided at One o'clock on the Hill by James Collice of Angmering.” [SRS 88]

After that there is a blank sheet until the 19th century, although an assiduous scan of county newspapers may show some results. In 1921 Skeet delved into the records and ephemera of local gentry to find the following notable item.

Mr Somerset has at Castle Goring the following curious old bill, 12in by 10in

CRICKET
The 28th of May next being Whitsun
Tuesday, and also
HIS MAJESTY'S
BIRTH-DAY
The Lord of the Manor of East & West
Angmering will give a Purse of
FIVE GUINEAS
To be played for by Eleven of those
Parishes, against any given Eleven of the
adjoining Parishes of Poling, Patching, and
Clapham
The Match will be played on the new
Ground on Ecclesden Common, and the
Wickets to be pitched at 11 o'clock
Castle Goring 22d May 1833
Lucas, Printer, Arundel

George Pechell, as ‘lord of the manor’ had evidently established a cricket field on Ecclesden Common, north of Water Lane, the exact whereabouts of which is lost to memory. The wording indicates it was intended for continued use, although this does not imply a formal Village Club. In 1913 Mr Shepherdson spoke of the club having a hundred years history behind it, which implies its existence before 1833, since the schoolmaster was unlikely to make a five score years out of four.

The local scene can be set for the second half of the 19th century, when regular reporting began. In June 1856 national festivities marked the end of the Crimean War. Mr Warren had recently occupied his Preston Place estate, which extended into the heart of Angmering, and on one of his meadows local villages took part in amusements which included a series of cricket matches between the local villages.

At this time only Angmering had  a large enough population to raise a full team when needed. East Preston and Ferring or Rustington would often combine to field a team. And it is notable that when a league was created in the nineties, it had to be made a rule that at least seven players in a team must be residents of the home parish, this means that previously teams were often only nominally of a particular village

Informal matches still took place, organised by local gentry. In July 1858  George Olliver staged a cricket match between Ferring and Kingston clubs in his park at Kingston House. Guests included the Vicars of Angmering and Ferring, with Mr Wilkinson of the Lamb Inn providing the repast. The Lamb hospitality ranged
far and wide in those days. Afterwards “song and sentiment” flowed until eleven in the evening.

The Harvest Home dinner and celebrations, were a part of the regular cycle of life on all farms. Towards the end of his life, in 1860 Mr Gratwicke of Ham is reported as providing a dinner for his men of this kind.

“The Merry Haymakers; Mr W G K Gratwick Esq with his usual liberality gave a dinner to his laborers [sic] on Saturday last in celebration of the conclusion of the hay harvest. The dinner which was supplied by Mr Wilkinson of the Lamb Inn took place in Ham Park & after it had been disposed of the men resorted to cricket & various other means of enjoying themselves & nothing was omitted which could tend to increase their pleasure.”

In September 1861, Mr Warren of Preston Place provided the harvest dinner and sports for his men from the adjoining parishes, with cricket a notable feature.

The days of the week that were convenient for matches were not the weekends of today - the ‘weekend’ did not exist, and Sunday was sacred. For reasons that are obscure, Tuesdays, Fridays, and Mondays were favoured, and a feature of these long afternoon games is that they had two innings. What this says about batting skills is self evident.

In 1861 it took a combined Ferring and Preston team to stand against Angmering in two matches. Even then Angmering crushed the opposition in the first match but, with ‘new blood’, revenge was had in the second match. So it continued through that decade and afterwards with Angmering tending to win.

Reporters often got the names of people spelt incorrectly, but in August 1868 a typical match at Ham Park, between Angmering and Ferring with East Preston had the result:

Angmering
John Heasman                     0        and         1
Wilkinson                           13        and         2
Peachey                              4        and         1
Stares                                 2        and         2
Luck                                  34        and         1
Elliott                                   0        and         8
A Heasman                          5        and         0
Linfield                                 0        and         9
Heath                                  1        and         1
Amore                                 1        and         4
Peskett                               1        and         1
Byes                                  20       and         6

Total                                  81      and        36

Ferring and East Preston
Morris                               36 n.o.  and        2
Reeks                                3         and        0
Brown                                0         and        6
Haines                               0         and        0
Cranston                            4         and        4
Barnett                               0        and         0
Clear                                  0        and         0
Oliver                                 0         and        0
Ayling                                0         and        4
Mitchell                              0        and         1
Holmes                              1        and         0
Byes                                  2        and         4

Total                                46        and       21

Ham Park, the former grounds of Squire Gratwicke where the golf course is today, was now the regular place for games in Angmering. Joy Luck in her reminiscences, spoke of the pitch being at Ham Manor beside what is now North Drive.

There does not seem to have been many matches played in a season. But then a match every week for three months or so would not make twenty. In March 1894, a report was quite complacent about the season’s nine matches. It seemed even now that the pitch at Ham Manor was an annual concession, rather than a long-term gift.

“The local cricket club is in flourishing condition, and will commence the season with a balance in hand 0f £2 5s.  Sir Henry Fletcher, Bart, MP, has again generously provided a cricket ground.  The officers for the year are : President, Rev JB Orme, Hon Sec and Treasurer, Mr H Webber, Captain Mr G Heasman, Vice-captain Mr SG Heasman, committee, Messrs N Tompkins, J Jarrett, J Tompkins, R Potten, and G Wilkinson.  Last year the club won seven out of nine matches played.”

The Cricket League

Towards the end of the 19th century village life locally began to change, with easy access to London and elsewhere by rail, houses were being built and let to retired and other ‘gentlefolk’, in the coastal villages. Even on the local scale, both the Reeks and Orme families retired from Angmering to East Preston. One such resident of the village may have been PW Nind in 1896, a transient resident if so, for he does not appear in census returns before or after that date. His influence on cricket in the district was long lasting though.

Early in that year, the Worthing Gazette reported: 

Cricket Club Annual Meeting:   Cricketers in the locality are beginning to bestir themselves for the coming season.  To forward matters at East Preston the AGM was held at the Three Crowns on Friday under the presidency of [Rev] WR Nightingale.  Members of other clubs also present.  It was reported that Mr PW Nind of East Preston had kindly offered a Challenge Cup to be played for in the district - by East Preston, Angmering, Lyminster, Rustington, Ferring, Goring, and Clapham with Patching - the cup to be won three years in succession before being the property of one Club.  Seven of each eleven in a team to be bona fide residents of the parish.  The matches to be half day except for the one day final.  WR Nightingale was elected Chairman, Mr Reeves Secretary and Treasurer [of the League].

At what was presumably the first match in May, Clapham and Patching visited East Preston and played a two innings match which the home team won by eight wickets.  Clapham & Patching 53 and 59, East Preston 53 and 60 for 2.  It is interesting that draws were not favoured, and results were often declared on the basis of the first innings. 

A feature of the league was the annual match by a league team against some worthy opponent. In 1899 against Worthing the league scored 175 for 8 declared and Worthing 165 for 5,  the match adjudged a draw.  SS Arbery with 64, and CE Challen with 40 were top scorers.The Blaauw Cup

As might be expected Goring, a much larger village than others in the league, proved too strong.  Ferring managed to win the cup in 1896 but the following three years were all Goring, when they became its owners.  The original clubs were still members of the league in 1899.  In the final year Angmering played six matches and won four placing them second.

Blaauw Cup

In 1900 Mr St Leger Blaauw, also of East Preston, came to the rescue by providing a new cup, named after him. This cup is still today in the hands of the East Preston club. Rev Nightingale served as league chairman and president until in due course the presidency passed to the new East Preston curate Rev Williams.

The rules were sensibly changed, so that a club could only hold the cup for a year.  A league flag was also purchased, to be held by the winning club, it consisted of a red ground with a white border, and the letters E. P. C. L. also in white. This flag may be seen in photographs of winning teams in the ensuing decade.  Later in 1908 medals were also provided for the winning team members.  In 1901 it was stated by the secretary that the "EPCL started as an experiment had become a great success...They now had what could be termed good village cricket".

The League attracted the same basic clubs after 1900, but with some variations.  In 1902 for instance only six clubs participated, Lyminster being absent.  The season consisted of two matches against each club; and in the last year of peace,1913, the opponents in eight matches were Poling with Lyminster, Angmering,  Rustington, and Clapham with Patching.  In 1904 Goring, Ferring, and Clapham with Patching did not compete due to team difficulties.

Results of the competition from 1900 to 1913 can be obtained from the names on the cup itself, as well as newspaper reports.

1900     East Preston under captain F. B. O'Neill            1901   Ferring, captain P. A. Tourle
1902     Angmering, captain G. T. Grant                         1903   Angmering, captain G. T. Grant
1904     Angmering                                                       1905   East Preston, captain W. A. Charman
1906     Angmering                                                       1907   East Preston, captain J. T. Norrell
1908     East Preston, captain J. T. Norrell                     1909   Angmering, captain George Grant
1910     Rustington, W. Stanbridge                                1911   East Preston, captain J. T. Norrell
1912     East Preston, captain J. T. Norrell                     1913   Poling and Lyminster possibly

Angmering was certainly less dominant in these years than hitherto, and in 1904, when it won the cup for the third time, there were great celebrations. After the final, the village band turned out and played the team home with, ‘See the Conquering Hero Comes”.

Final for Blaauw Cup
This match was played at Clapham, on Saturday, on a capital wicket, which had been prepared by Mr Hunt the Clapham Secretary, Angmering winning for the third year in succession. 
For the winners, E Wilkinson, W Ayling, and G Roberts, and for the losers, HL Havers, C Challen, and T Norrell, were the principal scorers, while with the ball, E Wilkinson took 12 wickets for 72 runs, and A Luck four for 40.  For East Preston, A Challen took 12 wickets for 85, C Challen three for nine, and HL Havers four for 41 runs. 
On the return home of the Angmering team, they were met by the village band, who escorted them into the village playing, "See the Conquering Hero Comes". 
Angmering 120 and 49.  East Preston 34 and 62.

Harris in his 1910 booklet had a slightly jaundiced view of the situation:

Owing partly to the want of a Public Recreation Ground and partly to the almost unceasing toil, there is little sport in Angmering. The Cricket Club, however, has contrived to exist for a good number of years in running a cricket team of more or less merit.

Angmering Cricket Club 1902
Angmering in 1902

Winners of The Blaauw Cup


At the end of the 1913 season, thoughts were still on the future and how to improve the team. In the event, little or no sport of any kind would be played the following year, and the League, as with many antediluvian pleasures came to an end.

Worthing Gazette Nov. 1913
Social gatherings at Angmering are noted for their conviviality and the Annual Dinner of the village Cricket Club which took place at the Lamb Assembly Hall on Wednesday evening proved no exception to the general rule.  Mr John Tompkins presided with the Rector, Mr AF Somerset JP, Mr W Rawson Shaw JP, Mr SS Pyle and Dr Chaplin as their immediate supporters, while the Vice Chair was taken by Mr H Webber and the company which numbered between sixty and seventy included several visitors from Rustington, East Preston, Clapham, Poling and Littlehampton.
The customary loyal toast was submitted ...... followed by the toast of "Success to the Angmering Cricket Club"
Mr Ayling [captain] in response mentioned that out of the fourteen matches they had played - they had won eight and lost six.  The worst part of the record was that three of their lost matches were in connection with the League and the brightest perhaps was their success over the Littlehampton Second Eleven
So far as their cricket team was concerned they mainly consisted of youngsters and they could not always get them to work.

RWS 24.12.2008 NRD