Tales from the Archive


South Weald Cricket Club - An Appeal (1972)

An extract from an article appealing to club members in 1972 for support in a move to the now current ground at Sandpit Lane by Club President, John Lowe

A full history of South Weald Cricket Club (1927-1972)

An extract from the '1972 Club Appeal' article by John Lowe

Past cricketing life and first memories at SWCC (1989 to 2000)
An Article by long-standing South Weald CC member, Howard Imbert

Archived Documents

A downloadable list of archived South Weald CC documents

A full history of South Weald Cricket Club

An extract from the '1972 Club Appeal' article by John Lowe

Village cricket has been traditionally strong in Essex, and particularly so in the Brentwood and central part of the county. Although some clubs already existed in the Brentwood area, prominent members of the village community recognised the need for local opportunities and in February 1927, a public meeting was convened at which South Weald CC was formed. 13 matches were subsequently arranged for the first season. Local support was enthusiastic and helpful. The Tower Arms loaned one of the fields at the rear of the public house for games - although chasing the ball on such a hilly terrain must have added considerably to the early difficulties of the club. The subscription was set at half-a-crown, and 29 members were attracted in the first year. With such special assistance as a borrowed roller from Noak Hill, and arrangements to buy hats at fifteen shillings each, the accounts balanced at £8.17.6, showing a "profit" of £2.9.6. for the first year.

Early Club records make fascinating reading as a background to local history. The club prospered from the outset. Annual dinners were arranged, the fixture list grew steadily, and even though it became necessary by 1935 to pay a groundsman 6/- a week for maintenance of the pitch, and subscriptions had risen to 5/- a head, membership was strong and village support in terms of direct assistance and a lengthening list of Vice-Presidents, continued to grow. In traditional fashion, the club seemed to center around the Tower Arms, South Weald's principal Public House. Mrs. Towers, from the family at Weald Hall, was for many years the Club's President up to her death in 1935. By the outbreak of war in 1939, when South Weald Cricket Club was forced to dissolve, it had established itself as a leading local team, with a stabilised membership of something under 30 regular players, and subscriptions still at 5/- a head!

After the war, in 1946, the Club reformed, took stock, and found that its most urgent need was for a more suitable ground on which to play. A number of possibilities were explored before the club accepted an offer from the London Hospital, then resident at Rochetts, South Weald, to play at Front Park. Suitable sites were already difficult to find in the area, particularly with the Armed Services' use of Weald Park in the National interest. Equipment was short, but members are recorded in the minutes of the general meeting held in May 1946 as having offered equipment from their own resources, and games were underway the same summer. South Weald recognised the need for the focus to be on youth very early on after the war, and the first scheme for encouraging youngsters from 12 years old onwards was proposed by then vicar, the Reverend Donald Rooke, at the end of the first post-war season. The London hospital agreed early the following year to indefinite use of Front Park, Rochetts, while they were in residence, and with subscription set at 7/6 for men, 5/- for youths, and 2/6 for boys, the future seemed assured. But in 1950, the question of the ground again emerged as the critical factor following a change of ownership at Rochetts.

Once again, sites in Weald Park were examined, and even the possibility of sharing a ground with the village football team was reviewed. However, by April 1951, the agreement had been reached for the club to continue at Rochetts, and alternatives - which would have involved considerable expenditure in terms of preparation of a ground, were dropped. Shortly after this, the opportunity for South Weald to move to the park was lost when the ground earmarked was committed for in other ways, and investment at Rochetts was stepped up to bring facilities in line with rising standards.

By 1953, the club had bought its first mower for cutting the outfield - a 5-hour task with a 30" cut Atco bought for £140. The club began to become more formally active socially - in 1953, for example, it ran a dance to raise money for the Lord Mayors East Coat Flood Disaster fund, but with costs rising all round, dances soon became a necessity, along with rummage sales and increased subscriptions, if South Weald was to remain solvent.

In 1955, the club owed £140 - primarily because of the purchase of the motor mower, but by the following year, the debt was cleared. In 1957, the crisis of the ground had returned, with the sale of Rochetts and its parks and building yet again the cause, left the clubs fortunes hanging on the hoped-for good wishes of the new owners. But with the arrival of Col. A J G Mohring the club was promised continuing use and it set about improving itself again. A new pavilion was acquired, with the kind support of one of the Club's vice presidents, and was erected by the club's own members. "Elsan" toilets and a kitchen were added, ground equipment was realistically overhauled and replaced, very principally following the gift from Col. Mohring of a replacement mower for the 30" Atco which had begun to consume an impossible amount of club funds, maintenance of the site was stepped up and by 1930, the club was facing the future with renewed confidence and a parallel injection of new players. The club strengthened its position socially with dances, rummage sales, and fundraising activities now an essential part of its life.

The years to the present (1972) have seen these good foundations strengthened further. South Weald has kept its close ties with the village - all its meetings are still held at the Tower Arms and Col. V S Laurie CBE, who founded the club nearly half a century ago, is now our President with Sir Hubert Ashton, CBE, who has been associated with the club almost as long, one of our leading vice-presidents. The principle of special encouragement for youth has been strengthened, and regular contact has been made with local schools and youth organisations in this respect. A special chairman's prize for under 21 performance was presented in 1968, and subsequent years. The club, following further disasters with grass cutting equipment, finally raised enough funds to buy and overhaul its own gang mowers and it's own - somewhat aged - tractor. It had mechanised its rolling, and with the results of intensive maintenance on its ground, plays on a surface second to none in the district. To steer these arrangements, committee structure has been positively strengthened and the position of a ground manager to co-ordinate all ground matters was established in 1968.

Now the club has a unique opportunity to resolve its one continuing difficulty - that of a secure ground on which to play, where it can expand its activities and bring facilities in line with today's demands, where it can play cricket at all times without restrictions, where it can foster the traditions and characteristics which have brought it through half a century of history, and where it can contribute through preserving an ancient site and sharing it with others, much more to the future needs and opportunities of the area.

John Lowe

President of South Weald Cricket Club

South Weald Rochetts

A South Weald XI from 1972

South Weald Cricket Club - An Appeal

An Article appealing to club members for support in 1972 for a proposed move to the now current ground at Sandpit Lane

May 1972 - An extract from Col V. S. Laurie CBE

Everything has to have a beginning. There was some rather high-class cricket in Weald Park, just after 1914/1918 war when Mr Vivian-Smith, afterwards Lord Bichester, was the squire's Tenant at weald hall but the tenancy was not renewed and the old squire, both of whose sons were killed in the war, died in 1924 and cricket fell into abeyance.

In 1927 the new Vicar, Reverend F. H. Proctor, once tried for Essex when a curate at Stratford, inspired a few of us to revive the national game once more in South Weald and with the assistance of Mr & Mrs J. W. King, the latter happily still with us, we began to play on one of their fields behind the Tower Arms. "Very handy if you want a lemon or a ginger" said one of the gentlemen in the Almshouses.

Humble but entertaining cricket continued until peremptorily interrupted by Hitler and Co in 1939.

Revived again in 1946 on a more sophisticated basis at Rochetts where a succession of ken and sporting members have gone from strength to strength and now wish to establish themselves on their own ground, still in the parish, and on the site of an Iron Age settlement near the ancient Manor of Calcott Hall.

As an original Member and present President of the Club, I hope I can rely upon my neighbours, cricketers and others, to support this enterprise.

You can read the full archived 1972 club appeal document below.

Col. V. S. Laurie CBE

Ex-President of South Weald Cricket Club

South Weald Cricket Club - An Appeal 1972.pdf

1989 - 2000 - Past cricketing life and first memories at SWCC - Howard Imbert

An Article by long-standing South Weald CC member, Howard Imbert

1989 Season

I joined South Weald in 1989 after playing at Bentley CC for eleven seasons but having previously been on the annual Norfolk summer tours with South Weald since 1986 playing various teams to include Happisburgh, Bradfield, Ingham as well as Lowestoft and Bures.

I still remember Chris Harries appearing in the Bentley pavilion one Saturday evening the weekend before the tour was due to start on a recruitment drive.

Bentley had joined the T Rippon Mid Essex League in 1982 which was two years before South Weald joined. Bentley had won Division 1 in their first year of league cricket but were relegated in 1983, promoted in 1984 then relegated in 1985.

South Weald were placed in Division 4 on joining the league in 1984 as more village teams voted to play league cricket. By the time I arrived the club had success to the point they were competing in Division 2 when I decided to move from Coxtie Green Road to Sandpit Lane. Bentley had finished about halfway up the table in Division 1 and I had a decent season scoring about 850 runs and usually bowling first change. In those days most of the Saturday team played on Sundays.

Denis Fenton invited me to play at South Weald at the start of the 1989 season after I had decided I no longer wanted to play at Bentley. In those days a group of South Weald players used to meet in Stock after team selection on a Monday evening. As well as Denis others included Richard Stroud and Roger Davies who was picked up en-route from his parent’s house in Hutton where my parents also lived. Denis used to drive us in his silver Ford Orion to Stock dropping us all back home on his way to his parent’s house in Harold Park. Bit of a round trip but he liked driving.

Denis captained the Saturday 1st XI and Richard the Sunday 1st XI as we had four teams each weekend in those days. My first game was away at South Woodham Ferrers in the 1st XI although I was initially selected to play in the 2nd XI. A late dropout resulted in me playing in the 1st XI. From memory, we bowled SWF out for about 140 as Gary Fisher took 7 wickets and I batted at 8 and didn’t get a bowl which was a strange feeling as I’d batted in the top four at Bentley and usually bowled first change. For quite a number of years, new players had to wait for their chance if regulars were on holiday or unavailable. We didn’t reach our target, however, I top-scored with 23 on an interesting pitch. Over the next 30 years, I never managed many runs at Saltcoats Park. I remember getting bowled and being told by our veteran left arm bowler Harry Weston, who was batting at 11, that I should have hung around a bit longer and we would have won.

We batted deep with Richard (Stroud) and Denis (Fenton) opening the batting, Gary (Fisher) batting three, Clive Shaw at four, Mark Copsey at five or six with me, Pat (Stroud), Jon (Kirby), and Chris (Gray) in the late middle order. Pete Richardson was still in the side and also batted in the middle after many years opening the batting and allegedly hitting a six over the church at Chignal Smealey on his way to scoring 130. I’d never seen Pete score many runs against Bentley but he became a legend when I joined Weald usually in the bar after the game where he excelled.

We ended up runners up that season to Ingatestone who we beat in a low-scoring game playing away. I think we scored 60 and they got 40. Only two of our batsmen scored more than two runs and we only used two bowlers, Chris Gray and Jon Kirby. Mark Copsey scored 40 and was well supported by Pat Stroud who scored 20.

South Weald Presidents Day 1992

South Weald President's Day 90s

Continued Article - Years 1990 to 2000

1990 saw us play in Division 1 where we remained until 1991 when we were promoted as Champions after winning our final game by one run at home against Hockley. There is still a photo in the bar from after the final game. The line up was Mark Copsey, Richard Stroud, Gary Fisher, Clive Shaw, Danny Buttleman, Howard Imbert, Pete Richardson, Will Gibbs, James Stroud, Chris Gray and Harry Weston. Bill Hardy umpired and Dave Harries was also in the picture. Richard Stroud was captain which continued for the following season.

We were promoted to the Premier Division in 1992 where we stayed until 1995 when we were relegated. The team had changed significantly over that period and although we finished runners up to Bentley in 1996 we were relegated in 1997 and had to wait until 2000 until we won Division 1 as Champions.

1999 was the beginning of the following years winning campaign as Rick Ankers joined the club after being encouraged to join South Weald by Bob Stroud who lived in the same road with his future in laws Peter and Lesley O’Dowd. Gary Fisher also returned to the club in 1999 after playing for Old Brentwoods and Shenfield in the Essex League. Perry Reeves joined as an opening bowler from Great Burstead having also played rugby with Pat Stroud at Old Brentwoods.

I started an opening batting partnership with Rick in 1999 who had clearly played at a higher level. During the 2000 season four players scored most if the runs with Rick exceeding 750, myself 650, Gary 600 and Danny Cutts 400. A personal highlight was an opening partnership of 235 versus Galleywood with Danny covering for Rick who was late travelling down from Manchester. Danny scored 125 and I scored my maiden league ton finishing 100 not out. Other regulars that season were James Stroud, Ian Marshall, Denis Fenton, Andrew Stroud, Adrian Oldershaw, Perry Reeves and Chris Gray. Rick Ankers captained the side.

Howard Imbert
Long standing member and Club Secretary of South Weald Cricket Club

South Weald Cricket Club Socials

SWCC 1st XI - final game of the 1991 season v Hockley

South Weald CC Archived Documents

South Weald Cricket Club - An Appeal 1972.pdf