Howzat for a cricket club reunion?
12:06 09 June 2014
It is nearly 50 years since they all stood on a cricket pitch together but while they might now struggle to make a diving catch in the slips the spirits were certainly still willing - and the banter even stronger.
Former members of the Spooner Row Cricket Club, who played together in the 1950s and 60s, were brought back together for a rare reunion after one of their star players made a trip half way round the world.
David Higham was a vet in Wymondham in the 1960s and was cajoled by a local farmer into joining the cricket team.
But after emigrating to New Zealand in 1969 he made a few infrequent visits back to his native country and only caught up with his old pals individually.
While arranging his latest visit to pay tribute to a former player Tom Lord at his funeral a hastily arranged happier reunion of all the surviving players, and wives, was planned at the Bunwell home of Ann Dent whose late husband Brian also played for Spooner Row.
“It wasn’t a very happy reason for coming here this time so it was a great idea to get everyone together for a happier event,” he said.
“I haven’t seen them all together since I emigrated.”
As the team looked back over old photographs and scorebooks Mr Higham recalled his first game for the club - when he didn’t exactly bowl his maiden over.
“I came down to Norfolk from Yorkshire in 1961 and I wasn’t going to play cricket but John Hipperson persuaded me. I was brought up with cricket as my father was a top class player so it was tempting. The first game John picked me up and I told my wife Margaret we wouldn’t be late. We went over to play a team the other side of Norwich and on the way home we must have stopped at every pub on the way. When I got home one of the lads picked a rose out of the rose bush at the front of the house and gave it to Margaret as an apology. She quickly made some coffee. I knew from that moment I would be playing with these guys a long time.”
As the team was mainly made up of local farmers they would only play until the end of July, when harvest would take over so they didn’t join any leagues.
Chris Cross, 83, who was the team wicket-keeper, said: “We arranged all the games between other villages but we did enter the Kimberley Cup and the Norwich 20-over. We took it seriously and played to win but we also enjoyed the socialising.”
As the club started to wind up Don Graham, who was a bowler, decided to arrange an annual match against a team of Essex farmers, called the Ploughboys.
“I was from Essex so I instigated it,” he said. “We played them every year for about 26 years.”
Roy Melton, who was the captain, said it wasn’t always easy to keep control of his team-mates.
“They were happy days,” he said. “It was great to spend half a day of the week away from work and we made the most of it.”