A far more extensive history, with pictures, can now be found at:
(New version November 2014 - last updated 9 December 2014)
The Early Days
In 1884, Radlett was but a small part of Aldenham, not even warranting a mention on the maps of the day. It was the vicar, Revd. C M O Parkinson, the schoolmaster, Dickie Forfeit, C T Part and two ‘well-to-do’ gentlemen who agreed to establish a cricket club. They put their persuasive talents to work on a local, somewhat reclusive landowner, Sir Francis Head. Eventually, he allowed them to use a small field in his grounds at Newberries.
Having only 360 residents in the parish to draw from meant that the team saw little early success. It was some 13 years later before fortunes seemed to have improved, when in 1897 they managed to win 12 of their 19 fixtures.
The club celebrated Queen Victoria’s Jubilee in 1901 by building its own thatched pavilion, 30 feet by 20 feet – apparently, a rare feat for a village club at that time.
The vicar confirmed his interest in cricket by publishing in the parish magazine “Some Useful Hints to Young Cricketers”, which included the following gems:
“In order to hit a ball to leg, put your left leg well forward and ‘mow’ round to leg with your bat”. Who said the sweep shot was a relatively modern innovation?
“Keep your hands out of your pockets and never where a coat when fielding, except in wet and very cold weather.” Better remind the first XI.
Cricket in Radlett continued to grow, both in quantity and quality. In 1907, 42 matches were played. The best player was the opening bat, G G Dumbleton, from the large house at Organ Hall, who appeared for the County fairly regularly from 1902 to 1912. Mostly, he averaged over 20; in 1904 he headed the county batting averages with 38.83.
Between the wars
Despite two changes of location, the club made great strides forward between the two world wars. It changed from being a modest village set-up to being one of the leading clubs in the county. Much credit for this is due to Miles Brunton (after whom the current ground is named), Leo Reid and Bob Woodbridge.
The old ground at Newberries was soon restored to use after the First World War, but proved too small by then modern standards. In 1928, the club seized the opportunity of moving to a magnificent ground on the Porters Park estate. The cricket ground had been built by Cecil Raphael in 1909 to the same dimensions as the Surrey Oval. The site is better known today as Shenley Cricket Centre. The estate had been sold to Middlesex County Council for development as a mental hospital. The council gave the club a 10 year lease of the ground at £10 per year. The ground had not been used since before the First World War and had deteriorated to little more than open pasture. However, club members set to work and amazingly it was in full use by mid-season, 1928.
Radlett’s captain, L J Reid, introduced the novelty of Sunday cricket and arranged the appearance of eminent players such as Wilfred Rhodes, Maurice Leyland and Patsy Hendren. Leo Reid, himself was prominent on the county scene and became the only Radlett player to regularly captain Hertfordshire.
Leo Reid, a free-scoring left-hand batsman, was a popular captain of Hertfordshire from 1923 to 1927; thanks to his influence, four minor counties matches were played at Radlett’s ground at Porters Park between 1929 and 1934. Other Radlett men to be honoured by the county included steady R H Baucher (ex-captain of Harrow), dashing Peter Woodbridge and R Postill, a very fast bowler who taught at Aldenham school.
At the end of the lease in 1937, the ground was required by Shenley hospital for the use of its own staff and the club was without a home. Miles Brunton came to the rescue by buying some land on Cobden Hill for £1,000 and letting it to the club for 99 years at a most favourable rent. A fair was held which raised £100 and enabled work to begin on a new pavilion. That rough field has now become our fine cricket ground, admired by the Australian test team when they played on it in 1993.
The 1940s and 1950s
After the Second World War, Radlett was fortunate to have a band of players who also worked tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure the viability of the club. They were Leslie King, Ivor Golby and Chris Dexter. Leslie King was a lovely bowler, quiet and modest in nature – a knowledgeable and popular captain. As an opening bowler he combined variety and accuracy; normally bowling away swing, with an effective off-cutter, a good slower ball, and now and again a much faster one with a slinging action. He played for Hertfordshire from 1939 to 1954, and his tally of 170 wickets at 21.85 would have been much greater had he not lost seven prime years to the war. Untiring and persistent, he provided an admirable foil to the brilliant array of slow bowling the County had at the time.
For 40 years, from the time he joined as a 17 year old in 1934, Ivor Golby was an ever-present part of the Radlett first eleven. His correct method and unruffled temperament made him an effective opening bat, and his medium pace outswingers were always spot on a length. Year after year he took 100 wickets at low cost; 12 consecutive maidens against H.A.C. in 1966 were a typical example of his nagging accuracy.
To be continued.......
RADLETT'S ENGLAND PLAYERS
DOUGLAS JARDINE (born 23.10.00; died 18.6.58)
JARDINE came to live in Radlett with his family in a large house at the top of Gill's Hill just after The War. A lawyer, he worked in the City, and Eric Parker, a friend on the Stock Exchange, persuaded him to join his local club, probably in 1949, Parker's season as captain.
Jardine, a former Surrey and England captain with 22 Test appearances - including the notorious Bodyline series in Australia -- proved to be a friendly popular club man at Radlett, not at all aloof as his public image might suggest. He mixed in effortlessly and scored runs in the few games he played for Radlett when not involved in charity matches or personal appearances elsewhere. The tic fever he caught in Northern Rhodesia began to affect his health and he died in Switzerland at the age of 57.
Club member Chris Dexter, as a sole surviving Jardine team-mate at Radlett, recalled some anecdotes in the programme of the England Amateur XI v Australia match at Cobden Hill in 1993.
Dexter, a Hertfordshire batsman, who died in 2002, remembered the sheer quality of Jardine's batting and the way, at the age of 48, he stroked the ball through gaps as he did in his Oxford and Surrey years. However his innings were always relatively short, and there was a reason.
Dexter wrote: ``We learned why he no longer played the game regularly. He told us that, from the effects of a tropical disease he had had, he found that his hands swelled up, making it painful to grip his bat handle if he batted for an hour or more.''
As for Jardine's personality, Dexter added: ``To our surprise we found him to be most mild-mannered and friendly to us all. Most certainly he had mellowed. He merged quietly and comfortably into our club life.''
Dexter suggested that Jardine’s reputation during his years as England's captain might have been unjustified, a stern image fuelled by his passionate, almost manic, desire to beat Australia. His players and friends were fiercely loyal.
RICHARD HUTTON (born 6.9.42)
Hutton played two seasons for Radlett in 1967 and 1973. A Cambridge Blue on Yorkshire's books, he was brought to Cobden Hill in 1967 for a handful of games by Radlett's captain Fred Taylor, his flat-mate in London while he was finishing his chartered accountant qualifications.
When he returned for more matches with Radlett season in 1973, he had earned five England caps as an all-rounder and, at the age of 30, was one season from the end of his Yorkshire career. By club standards he could bowl very fast when necessary and he was an infallible slip fielder. With the bat he was a stylish driver of the ball and made an impact in most games he played, about 10 in total.
One of his striking attributes was a highly competitive approach to most games, but off the field he was courteous and approachable with a dry sense of humour. The 1973 side was one of the strongest in Radlett history. The season started with 13 straight victories, and Hutton only played once in that sequence before becoming available more often.
The following year Radlett became one of the founders of the Hertfordshire League, but Hutton and his family had moved away to Tunbridge Wells in Kent. He later broke off his accountancy career to serve several years as editor of The Cricketer magazine.
DONALD CARR (born 28.12.26)
Carr played three seasons for Radlett in 1975-77 when he came to live in Aldenham Avenue. He was secretary of the Test and County Cricket Board at Lord's and was already well known at the cricket club, having visited Cobden Hill regularly with Repton Pilgrims. He played golf at Porters Park.
During his distinguished career with Derbyshire he played two Tests for England in India -- one as captain - the winter after graduating at Oxford. Radlett gained the benefit of his cheerful and thoughtful presence.
At a ripe age his reflexes at slip were still intact and his left-arm spin-bowling, in his youth a passport to the Derbyshire side, proved effective on several occasions. With the bat he judged length expertly. His placements, cutting and late dabbing allowed impressive fluency against the best bowling, though he did not achieve a century in his dozen or so games.
He was not often available, but in 1975 he was the key player in a remarkable match, mentioned in The Sun newspaper. Carr, with 65, rescued a morning collapse against Eastcote at Cobden Hill, gashing his face with a top-edged sweep in the process.
Eastcote's strong batting side were cruising to victory when Carr instigated a collapse with his left-armers, finishing with 8-32. A bizarre feature was Arnie Hubbard's unintentional declaration. He clapped his hands in annoyance at a tail-ender's rash stroke and all the players walked off, assuming a closure. Hubbard said he was too embarrassed to send them back...
Carr's move to the village benefited Radlett in another way. His son John grew up with the club as a colt and became a magnificent batsman for Radlett, Oxford University and Middlesex, once topping the national averages in 1994.
John Carr was unlucky. He was probably a better player than Donald, but never played for England.
Professionals at Radlett
Radlett Players who achieved first class county status
ROBIN JOHNS, Northants and Herts.
As a St Albans School boy he developed through the colts as an all-rounder, bowling leg-cutters or off-spin in the first team before leaving after the 1968 season aged 22 to join Southgate. He won an Oxford Blue in 1970 and played six games for Northamptonshire as an off-spinner in 1971. He represented Herts regularly from 1975 onwards in a successful era. In 1976 he featured in a spin partnership with Dilip Doshi, the future India left-armer, when Herts defeated Essex at Hitchin in the old Gillette Cup, the only occasion a minor county has reached the quarter-finals.
JOHN CARR, Middlesex and Herts.
Son of Donald Carr, he developed in the colts section and quickly broke into the first team while still at Repton School before scoring heavily for Oxford University and Middlesex. He took a two-year break from professional cricket in 1991 and 92, disillusioned with his form. In his first gap season back at Radlett he broke the Hertfordshire League record with 848 runs in 12 innings at an average 84.8, when Radlett easily won their second title. He returned to Middlesex and topped the national averages in 1994, the `Brian Lara summer'. Though in line to become Middlesex captain, he retired to join the England and Wales Cricket Board, and he lives in the village with his wife and three daughters.
MICHAEL VOSS, Western Province.
This left-hander was recommended by The Mote in Kent to club member Eric Howes and he played a season in 1991, scoring seven centuries at a rapid rate, though only a couple in the league. (He crashed 150-odd before lunch at Chipperfield). His opening partnership with John Carr must have been Radlett's most punishing of all time. They put on more than 200+ at Hoddesdon at almost six an over.
SCOTT MOFFAT, Middlesex and Herts.
Scott was with Middlesex for two seasons (1996-7) and was mentioned in the Telegraph in 1997 as follows: "Welch denies Moffat half-century By Mike Beddow at Edgbaston. Third day of four: Middlesex (221 & 21-1) lead Warwicks (158) by 84 runs. ……Their position of strength - still to be endorsed by the timing of a declaration by Mike Gatting today - was ultimately due in a large part to two of their younger members. Scott Moffat`s contribution in his second championship match was to score 47 of the 124 runs added by the last five wickets. Born in South Africa and previously with Hertfordshire, he batted almost faultlessly until denied a half-century by Graeme Welch`s away movement."
We are also indebted to Bob Simons for permission to use extracts from his splendid book “Cricket in Hertfordshire” ISBN 0 9529485 0 8. Copies can be ordered from Tony Gibbs on 01707 267225.