A century of Wanderers legends

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DT scans - Credit: Archant

In his introduction to the newly- published centenary history of Wanderers Cricket Club, author Stephen Musk says it was 'principally written with current and former players' of the club in mind.

Hopefully, however, it will draw a much wider readership than that. It deserves to, not only because the story of Norwich Wanderers is intrinsically linked to the story of Norfolk cricket but because there is so much to entertain even those without a direct interest in the subject club.

With the current incarnation – Ashmanhaugh & Barton Wanderers – currently propping up the Alliance Premier Division, it is also a timely reminder of the days when every other club in the county looked up to the men from Barton Turf.

In their 100 years Wanderers have produced 110 players for Norfolk. And you only have to consider some of the men who have played for them since the EDP announced their formation – from the ashes of the nomadic Norwich Travellers – on March 10 1913 – to realise that in the world of fantasy club cricket they have few equals.

The team could feature England greats Bill Edrich and Clive Radley, Norfolk legends Michael Falcon (who still holders the county record for both runs and wickets) and Geoffrey Stevens, New Zealand Test stars Ross Taylor and Gareth Hopkins, Indian wicket-keeper Deep Dasgupta and Pakistan's Mohammad Wasim.

In 1921 Wanderers put out a full 11 of players who'd represented Norfolk, and three years later five were in the Minor Counties XI which defeated the touring South Africans at Lakenham. But this is a story of memorable characters as well as outstanding players and the rollercoaster of playing fortunes, including the Carter Cup triumph of 1977.

It recalls times when annual dinners brought into the public domain debates over subjects such as the possibility of Norfolk seeking First Class status, when the EDP would advocate the need for a new senior club to challenge Wanderers' domination, and when club stalwart Peter Powell presaged today's ultra-competitive set-up by devising his own unofficial 'mini league'.

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But it is also liberally laced with anecdotal gems, interviews and delightful sprinklings of trivia.

Take the story of the former 'squire of Barton', one Captain Michael Trubshaw, who first allowed Wanderers to use the Hall's cricket pitch in August 1937. (Amazingly for such a prestigious club, there was no permanent home until they settled at Barton Turf in 1948). 'Trubby' was a close friend of huge Hollywood star David Niven, who he once 'blackmailed' into opening the village fete by placing placards all round North-East Norfolk proclaiming his attendance. He was also known, whenever dismissed playing for his own team, the Bitterns, for throwing his bat over the roof of the pavilion into the copse behind, from where it was later recovered by his man-servant!

Musk does not flinch from critical comment, citing the failure to take a chance of merging with Ingham when the East Anglian Premier League was formed in 1999 as a 'great chance missed' and raises the debate over the recent merger with Ashmanhaugh after joining forces with Colitshall in 2005. But it all adds up to a fascinating read about a great club desperate to rediscover former glories.

Wanderers Cricket Club: A Centenary Celebration is available, priced £20, from http://www.abwanderers.com/centenary-book.html or from Susan Sheldrake on 07557 196649 or wanderers100@hotmail.com