Monday 24 September 2018  


  MEMBERS

User:

Pass:

Knockers Cricket Club History

section headings - click to go straight to -
[THE FIXTURES] - [DOLDRUMS AND BEYOND] - [TOURS] - [THOSE LUSTED YEARS - AND THE TAP] - [SOME OF THE CHARACTERS] - [2004-2014]



A history of the Knockers Cricket Club by Keith Miller, current president and chairman of the club, and club member for many years.

I doubt very much whether the first Knockers team members would have expected the side to be in existence, never mind thriving, nearly 50 years later.

The first matches in the early 1950s were organised by the partners of Messrs Knocker & Foskett, the eminent Sevenoaks firm of solicitors with their offices in the elegant Queen Anne building at the top of the High Street, the Red House. Employees, some more willing than others, were required to turn out to play other “works teams” in the town, such as the estate agents Ibbett Moseley Card & Co., Lloyds Bank, the Magistrates Court and Artesians (the waterworks team). The inspiration behind all this was the senior partner, John Watson-Simpson. One founder member, Norman Oldale, recalls that John employed him as a legal clerk at Knockers on condition that he played cricket for the firm. The first time he batted with John, he ran him out; but still kept his job.

After a summer or two of occasional games such as these, John began organising regular weekend fixtures, mainly on Saturdays, for the club which was christened “Knockers” at the 1953 AGM. The home matches would more often than not have been on the Council grounds at Knole Paddock, Greatness and Hollybush Lane. The first opponents were local sides like Otford, Weald, Seal and Shoreham. Needing to turn out stronger sides to play such teams, John looked outside the firm. The leading batsman was insurance broker Bill Andrews, while Geoff Enderby, one of the fastest bowlers in the district, and Mike Burden both worked at Ibbett, Moseley, Card & Co. Middle order bat Bill Cosker was the Court clerk, medium pacer Jack Lock (who organised the teas) worked for Marley Tiles, slow bowler Doug Chase was the firm’s handyman/builder and Harold Dinnis was a farmer client of the firm.

Later in the 1950s, recruits were found at the Vine (Mike Woodman, Dick Bates, John Cutting and Ian Miller) and Holmesdale (the legendary Dr Ned Hutton). Although John Watson-Simpson remained captain until 1962 and wicket-keeper Norman Oldale (who later became influential in the AKCC and, with his wife, responsible for the indoor nets at Knole Paddock) played on into the 1960s, the homegrown contingent was by now small. The last Knocker & Foskett lawyer to play for the club regularly (Richard Don was an occasional player in the 70s) was David Green, now the senior partner.

So successful was the recruitment policy that the club started to play more fixtures on Sundays. The opponents were now a little further afield - Dartford Heath, Beddington in Surrey and Phoenix at Barnehurst - while two visiting teams used to travel over from Essex by coach (a longish trip before the Dartford Tunnel was built); these were Barking and Downshall, the latter being the former club of the Knockers chairman and main umpire, Mr W.N. Baird.

THE FIXTURES

At the end of the 1950s it was found that it was getting more difficult to play on both days at the weekend, so Saturdays were dropped. The players who were members of the Vine were always available on Sundays and the team thrived. The fixtures, organised by Ned Hutton, became stronger. There were Mayfield (their opener Gerry Kelly is still the scorer of the highest score against Knockers), Crowborough and Battle in Sussex and Tonbridge and Marden in Kent (one of Tonbridge’s team, David Hamilton, still plays against us at the age of 75); also local rivals Holmesdale and Chelsfield Park. There were good wandering sides such as the Chessmen and Incompatibles.

Home games were now mostly played at Hollybush Lane, with the occasional match at Knole Paddock. Hollybush was maintained by the same curator as the bowling green and typically had a lush growth of grass which was rarely raked, so it not only blunted the pace of bowlers, but also inhibited front-foot strokeplay. However, when given the chance to opt for a single home pitch, we chose 'The Bush'.

There were times in the 1960s and 1970s when you would be excused for thinking we travelled to away matches by train: Folkestone, Deal; Frant, Wadhurst, Battle; Wye, Canterbury; and of course Tonbridge, Paddock Wood, Marden and Staplehurst! Once in the 80s we played a side called Chancery Lane, nowhere near the Central Line, but actually based in Beckenham.

The cricket played on Sundays was more relaxed than Saturday games and this became more marked when league cricket arrived in Kent at the start of the 70s. Knockers played on village greens, but always to a good standard. As the Vine rarely ran a Sunday team, Knockers benefited by recruiting Vine 1st XI players like Bob Golds, Tony Martin, Peter Edwards and John Hornsby - and of course we had already the talent of Andrew Sims, who learned much of the opening batsman’s skill at the other end to Ned Hutton. The quality of the batting and fielding was awesome at times.

The away fixtures were often quite far distant, Tenterden and Battle being favourite oppositions, and we would meet at the Peacock at Goudhurst or come back from games via the Elephant’s Head at Hook Green or the Rose & Crown at Wrotham. However, as the drink-driving laws became stricter, the thirst for far-away games became weaker. It was no longer too clever to drive back home after a few pints, so by the late 80s the consensus was that we should play nearer home. That is why we started again to play old favourites like Weald, Ightham, Otford, Westerham and Shoreham.

DOLDRUMS AND BEYOND

There came a time in the late 1970s when one generation of members had retired (or got married) and it became a struggle to turn out sides. A crisis meeting was held at the Kentish Yeoman on 29th November 1979 when the question was “Should the club disband?” The decision was held over to the AGM and members made efforts to recruit new blood. Happily, sufficient new players were enlisted for the club to carry on. At that and the following AGM eight new members (including future officers Richard Botting, Iain Pearson, Graham Sagar and Stephen Trounce) were elected and we were discussing the basis of selection when too many players were available.

The club then celebrated its 21st year with a dinner at the Chequers at Heverham in 1973, with several of the early players present.

TOURS

Five [?] Knockers tours to Worcestershire took place between 1978 and 198[ ]. Why Worcestershire? Your fixture secretary had reconnoitred the county during 1977 and admired the attractive villages in that corner of England. The teams who followed marvelled at the attractive pubs, e.g. the Queen Victoria at Elmley Castle, the Fleece at Bretforton, the [ ] at Hanley Castle and the Talbot at Chaddesley Corbett.

The grounds also were notable: Bewdley, the jewel on the Severn (where the zoo park on the hill opposite was disconcertingly full of giraffes and other fauna after a liquid lunch at Ye Olde Talbot’s Head); Eastnor, next to the castle; Elmley Castle again, the perfect village green; Romsley & Hunnington (opposite the toffee factory, leading to fears of a sticky wicket).

Tour hotels were mixed (in more than one sense). The best was either the Foley Arms at Malvern or the Abbey at Tewkesbury; the worst the Watersmeet, on the flats by the Severn, which was frequented by anglers and occupied one of the lowest locations in Gloucestershire, depressing, to say the least - but, as the anglers were up and out at trout’s fart, the hotel bar was operative from the early hours. One low point of that tour was when a Forest of Dean team cancelled, claiming their pitch had subsided; but we later discovered (because we were there too) that they were all supporting Gloucestershire against Worcestershire in the NatWest Trophy match at Worcester that day.

A tour to Bournemouth in 199[ ] was doomed. It was arranged as a round-robin festival with the home side, Knockers and a West Country team, but it rained the whole week and we only managed a token game at the end against the other touring team. We have not toured since that experience .

THOSE LUSTED YEARS - AND “THE TAP”

The good and bad of Knockers’ history came together during the 1980s, when the team came to be based at the Royal Oak Tap (“the Tap”). This public house had never been noted for its sophistication, more for its quality beers. In the late 1970s it was taken over by Graham Styles, who played for the club, and then there arrived one Peter Lusted, mine host extraordinaire, who welcomed the team to his pub, seduced them with refreshments and played cricket when asked, ultimately becoming team captain for the 1991 and 1992 seasons.

Knockers had always had a regular pub - the Rifleman, Black Boy and Compasses in their early days - but, when Hollybush became the regular venue, the Vine Tavern was the Knockers’ watering hole. Next the Tap became the after-match rendezvous and, with the arrival of Peter Lusted, soon acquired the status of the “pavilion” which the predominantly wandering team lacked. In 1988 Hollybush Lane was taken for the all-weather sports pitch and we were forced to play the majority of our matches away from home.

The 1980s captains: Ian Dunlop, Martin Crowhurst, Richard Botting and Joe Wood, could not deny that the Tap fostered a spirit (two loaded words there) of bonhomie, leading to happy relations on and off the field. Unfortunately, there were days when the bonhomie outdistanced the sporting performance of the team. Nonetheless, this period helped to define, if definition was necessary, the essence of Knockers - a sociable club, strong enough to play good Sunday cricket, but always ready to party.

The Tap remains the Knockers base and centre of operations, thanks to the current licensees, Julian and Denise, a home from home where you will generally find some team member to drink a pint or two with. It has also frequently been the last resort for the team secretary (Pete the Feet in particular), searching for that elusive eleventh player at five to two on a Sunday afternoon.

SOME OF THE CHARACTERS

John Watson-Simpson

The founder of Knockers, John was senior partner of Knocker and; Foskett in the early 1950s. His enthusiasm, it is not unfair to say, considerably exceeded his cricketing ability. Like an England skipper of that era, Freddie Brown, John was a middle-to-lower order player not especially noted for his bowling or his batting, but without his pioneering spirit the team would have sunk without trace. On the contrary, he saw the club through to a period when it was playing a high standard of Sunday cricket.

John suffered from asthma and, in his favourite captain’s position of mid-off (from where he offered mild encouragement to the bowlers), he would often be seen puffing at his inhaler at inappropriate moments.

Having looked after his aged mother for many years, John married late in life, in fact after retiring from Knockers. He continued, like Norman Oldale, to support Kent club cricket, being an AKCC committee member - and ultimately county chairman - for many years. This involvement helped the profile of the club and respect for it in the district. Strange to relate, one of the most modest of the club’s players in cricketing terms was actually a leading light in developing cricket in the Sevenoaks district.

Ned Hutton

Edwin A. Hutton, Ph.D, was an explosives expert who worked at Fort Halstead, but who played cricket 4 days a week (Sevenoaks Wednesday, Blackheath Thursday, Holmesdale Saturday, Knockers Sunday), keeping his cricket bag handy in his lab in case he was called up for a game.

Ned had played league and county seconds cricket in Yorkshire and minor county cricket in Staffordshire before being posted south. He was probably the most adhesive opening bat this district has ever seen. He never lightly gave away his wicket. In fact he would occupy the crease well into a Sunday afternoon, often calling “Come one!” off the last ball of an over to keep the strike. Ned kept his own score in his head; once when his son Billy was in the scorebox and Ned was dismissed with the total on 206 for 1, his score was posted as 98 - Billy got no tea that day because Ned knew he’d scored 102!

Ned was an unlikely-looking sportsman. He would appear at matches with his little scruffy dog Curly and a big scruffy cricket bag, recounting stories of his Friday night at Raymond’s Revuebar in Soho, where he was the holder of a gold-plated front-row seat. Later in his career he fought the cold September weather by strapping hot-water bottles round his waist - not conducive to swift movement in the field. But appearances were deceptive; Ned compiled huge totals and no Knocker before or since has come near his scoring records. For example, in the 1959 season he scored 911 runs, surely impossible to better. He broke the hearts of opening bowlers by his crashing square cuts, tending to progress by boundaries rather than quick singles. Ned was a complete “one-off”, the like of whom we shall never see again. He dominated Knockers cricket for a decade and a half and it was a very sad day when he died in 1975, soon after having retired from work - and the sport he loved.

Mike Woodman

Mike joined Knockers with his schooldays ‘mucker’, Dick Bates, and both helped to transform the club into a strong Sunday side. Mike, who played for Knockers from the 1950s until his untimely death in 1991, was principally an opening batsman. With his flamboyant hooks and lofted drives, always impatient to dominate the opposition bowling, he was the perfect foil for Ned Hutton’s steady progress. As an opening pair they invariably got Knockers off to a good start

Mike was also a wily left-arm bowler, sometimes speeding up if required to open the bowling. His star turn, though, was as a gully fielder with lightning reactions, improbably pouching any hard slash which came near him.

Long before sledging was heard of, Mike indulged in abrasive repartee with batsmen he didn’t appreciate for one reason or another. This occasionally generated a bit of heat on the field, but everything was sorted out in the bar afterwards and he was a great favourite with our village oppositions.

When he retired from active cricket, Mike regularly stood as umpire until ill health prevented him. Off the field, as Chairman from 1976 and both President and Chairman from 1982 to 1990, Mike was a strong and likeable personality and gave great encouragement to new recruits to the club.

Mike Martin

‘Guru’, as Mike was known from the Beatles’ Maharishi period, played for the club for almost 40 years. What made this more remarkable was that he lived for most of that time in Putney, S.W.15 and at one period often travelled down to matches from Oxfordshire. The eternal student, he could often be found in a corner deep in conversation about politics or economics while other team members were shifting several pints of beer.

Guru was the original English ‘pie-thrower’ and, as is so often the case with slow medium bowlers, he picked up loads of wickets through his deceptive pace or lack of it. On pitches where the faster bowlers struggled to make an impression, Mike would clean up.

Yet it was as an adhesive tail-end batsman that he will be mostly remembered. Early in his Knockers days he scored a hundred against Chelsfield Park; and followed it the next season with another against Folkestone. His journey from Putney meant that he often arrived late, so he gradually dropped down the order. His scoring speed is illustrated by the unbroken stand of 110 with Roy Taylor at Weald in which Roy scored 99 not out. Guru became involved in some extraordinary last-wicket vigils in which runs were less important than survival, lasting out 15 or 20 overs to save the game. At Frant in 1996 however, his stand of 49 with Alistair Donaldson won the match.

…and many others

Over the half-century there have been so many cricketing characters who have played for Knockers. For example, in the early years:-

Geoff Enderby, a burly Northerner, who put the fear of God into local village players and who still holds two bowling records for the club. Geoff took 123 wickets in the 1958 season.

Bill Andrews, a dominating opening batsman who in the 1950s before the Vine players arrived, was Knockers’ leading scorer.

Norman Oldale, wicket-keeper and batsman, who went on to figure - and still does - in the AKCC and was largely responsible for the introduction of the indoor nets at Knole Paddock, quite an innovation in the 1960s.

David Daniel, the club’s only fast bowler in the early 1960s, bowled usually from the end at which his father umpired, but that was not the reason for his success. A very kind soul, David would always applaud a batsman who scored a 4 off him. He was tragically killed in a road accident in his 20s.

Dick Bates, a high-scoring batsman when in form, Dick had a natural eye for a cricket ball and defence was alien to him. His straight driving could be awesome, notably when collaring the Holmesdale attack of Cotton and Cruttenden or the Sussex spin bowler Giles Cheatle at Limpsfield - and when he hit Phil Edmonds into the tea-hut at Tenterden!

Ian Miller, originally an off-break bowler (he and Chris Corbett were a very effective dual off-spin attack) , Ian had ambitions as an opening batsman and became quite successful, using the theory that fast bowlers are often wayward in their first overs. His bowling was pragmatic, switching to a quick off-cutter if the pitch was not suited to spin - in fact, anything so as not to be taken off!

Tony Martin, Mike’s brother and usually known as “Esra”, was probably the most consistent batsman Knockers have ever had. He could always be relied upon to score a 40 or 50 and to fight through any crisis. He was also a top fielder and, bowling at a sharp medium pace, he could often break partnerships.

1980s and 1990s

In the 1980s and 1990s, some of the prominent Knockers were Graham Sagar, Ian Dunlop, Martin Crowhurst, Richard Botting, Peter Smith, Stephen Trounce, Ian Hitchcock. We are awaiting someone to put the words together to chronicle this period of the club.

2004 - 2014 by Scott Landers

A slighted potted section of history here as I came to the club as an outsider and had to pick-up things by simply turning up once a week. I suppose that I joined a club that had until recently enjoyed reasonable success on the field of play. Quite a few of the team had come over from the Vine and we still had a determinedly contested fixture with the Vine Jazzers each season. Some of those players had now moved on for whatever reason and then at the start of the 2004 season I turn up. I never quite did see eye-to-eye with club stalwart, Andy Darry, and with hindsight I can see why losing players of the calibre of Corin Spencer-Allen or the Irwins and having Dosser or myself quickly retread our paths back to the pavilion each week must have been disappointing for not only him.

All was not lost - the brothers Seldon, Stuart and Paul were formidable players, if not wholly confident of their talent just yet. Stuart being a graceful and unruffled batsman while Paul was expansive and in earlier days a few runs shorter of a total than he could have been. Paul's swing bowling was a reliable brake on the opposition's scoring with more than a few games of wickets to compliment his technique. Both are still a pleasure to watch play. For men of few words, the tours to Nottingham were a bit of an eye-opener - Paul in the middle of a conversation with the legendary Steve Gould was pulled aside for a tonsil inspection by some Midlands lass and and a few drinks added to Stuart bought out the charmer in him. Stuart has become vital to the club's survival with his work at Tonbridge being a great source of the next generation of players. More on the PSBs later.

Lynden Spencer-Allen was one of a pair of strike bowlers along with the tall left-handed quick, Dan Turner. Lynden, website manager, club statistician and resolute player - he commutes to matches from Cambridge, was an aggressive seam bowler who set himself high standards. In my ten years as part of the club I recognise LSA, along with Stuart, as essential to its survival. Capable of a few runs, Lynden has latterly converted himself to a batsman and with success too. Dan Turner must have had more maidens than Casanova, often being too good to take the wickets his bowling deserved. It was certainly too good for some of our slips, but fortunately Dan's anger quickly turned back into a smile and just maybe he'd take it out on the ball with his big-bat if we were fielding second. Dan has never been shy of bringing a certain hip-hop swagger into the game.

Andy Darry was the skipper in the first few years of this part of the club's story and he brought his son, Edward along with him. Andy's nagging spin-bowling and quick-to-comment control of the match was often the undoing of a batsman and despite playing with one-arm, he had a better batting average than a number of players - myself at one point included! Ted also took to spin and I've watched him grow from a keen kid to a measured bowler and increasingly able batsman. Guthrie Miller, son of club president, Keith Miller took over the captaincy from Andy and the move gradually broadened his shoulders into a much needed all-rounder. Gups was reliable for making up for any failure with the bat via the ball or vice-versa. On the subject of rounds, he was particularly capable of keeping the average beer consumption levels up on tour with a healthy appetite to match. A tour to Brighton seeing him pogo-dive to catch chips in his mouth being a memorable example of the latter.

In the middle of all this we lost Steve Trounce. Steve was a willing scorer, umpire, bowler and club treasurer who is much missed by all the clubs he gave so much time too, not only the Knockers. Since his death in 2006 we have played a memorial game against the Vine Old Oaks which is a highlight of the fixture list. Keith Miller's speech says it much better than I possibly could and is available to read via the 2006 season section of this website. I'll always remember a tour match against Cutthorpe in Derbyshire where Steve set off at mid-on after a skied-shot that went well over him. At first we wondered if he'd catch up with it, then we were all screaming to "get the **** out of the way!" of it as he clearly had no idea that he was simply turning himself into a target for the ball. The smiles on our faces as Steve sent down his agonisingly slow bowling to the opposition must have added to a batsman's doubt which proved so often to be their downfall.

The much opinionated Guy Howe enjoys a place among all this. The political and ideological opposite to our one-time captain, Andy Darry, there was often a tea-break "discussion" tripping over to join the action on the field. There exists some confusion about Guido's university education - mostly on his part - but there was no doubt that he was a "blue" when it came to political matters. Guy's love-life is often the source of much debate - one does wonder if the modelling sorority might not have by now got around to warning each other about a certain Kentish rogue. Ollie Boreham, a man as casual on the field of play as pig in the proverbial, joins Guy as one of the bigger personalities in the side. I can't recall him ever running for anything, not even a close single, so him taking the gloves must have been a natural choice. He was capable of a great-knock too, but even the shortest term in the middle rarely seemed to bother him.

A couple of other faces have disappeared throughout this time. Paul Styles, a resolute and reliable batsman and a Knockers favourite packed up his spikes after placing himself in a healthy position on our all-time run-getters board. Ken Cowan was, in some ways, a compliment to Paul with the ball. His "Durham Darts" often made up a majority of the Knockers' overs on match day and if they didn't take wickets they were very difficult to score off. An LBW appeal from Ken was mixture of Captain Caveman and a man stubbing his little toe. We have hoped Ken might show his face again one day but his roar may well be consigned to history. Both invoke some good memories on the field.

The Tonbridge PSBs - Public School Boys - began to come to the fore in 2008 along with Stuart Seldon's work at the school. It also coincided with Paul Cook and Ben and Tom Cobb's most regular years. Ben took over the captaincy from Gups, who was busy increasing the population. "Banger" was very handily an all-rounder if more prominently a bowler. His brother Tom's skills leaned in the opposite direction and they became integral to the side throughout a prolonged absence of Paul Seldon, Guthrie Miller and a few others. Cookie became a favourite of the side, not least for his touring expertise. From Tonbridge came Tom Watts, a confident and talented batsman and he was followed by Ollie Marsh, Ed Marsh, Tom's brother, Matt and importantly Freddie Young. All are fine players and in Freddie the club has been fortunate to find someone keen to push a little further and get into organising matters. As we head into the summer of 2014, it's these newer faces plus the returning older ones that look to keep the club in good health for a few years to come.

If you have any thing you would like to add to this please tell us. If you have any stories from the past that you think would be of interest/ humorous value etc then email webmaster@knockers.org.uk and let us know.

Copyright 2003 Knockers CC & www.LCSA.net