Cricket: Welcome to Time Travel: Howzat!!
sharing our heritage from Bruce Castle Museum & Archive.
The game does tend to have a ‘marmite effect’ on people – you either love it or hate it. And the ever-changing aspects of the game can quickly cause schisms within the fans themselves. For some, it’s only the Test Matches that count. For others, the game’s ability to be transformed into a series of explosive big hits and run-outs, with one day matches or T20 games, is part of its beauty.
Haringey – once being part of the County of Middlesex – has a long history of the sport. Middlesex County Cricket Club is an important name in cricket history and, cricket fan or not, you will most likely be familiar with Middlesex’s home ground since 1877 – the MCC or Lords – ‘The Home of Cricket’ (and the home of one of the most coveted trophies in cricket – The Ashes!).
Many cricketers born in (what is now) Haringey have played for Middlesex and other county teams. Some have even gone on to play for the national team. One such player was Percy Albert Perrin (1876-1945) who was one of the leading cricketers in England in the Edwardian ‘Golden Age’ of amateur cricket. The Perrin family had moved to Tottenham in 1878 where they ran two pubs, the ‘White Hart’ at Tottenham Hale and later ‘The Bull’ at 278 Tottenham High Road, which once stood near Tottenham Green (seen in the photograph below).
In 1892, Percy Perrin had started to play cricket for Tottenham Cricket Club, based off Philip Lane and in 1895 he broke several Tottenham batting records. His outstanding performances came to the attention of Essex County Club, then based at Leyton, and his long county cricket career started in 1896.
Percy had met Ethel, who lived locally in 11 Summerhill Road – not far from the cricket ground in Tottenham (you can read more about the Perrins on the Tottenham Summerhill Road website here – also notably, the house in Summerhill Road later became the family home of Ray and Alan Swain, who established the website). The Perrins were married in 1901 at St James’ Muswell Hill and moved to live at 194 Muswell Hill Road.
Percy had a remarkable career as a county cricketer, playing 496 matches in the County Championship – more than any other amateur. He scored more championship runs – 27,703 – than any other Essex player, including Graham Gooch. At Chesterfield in 1904, he scored the first first-class triple century in the 20th century – 343 not out – setting an Essex record which has lasted a hundred years. Shortly before he stopped playing cricket for Essex, he became a Test Match selector.
He remained a member of the Test selection committee for ten years, alongside the likes of Lord Hawke and Sir Stanley Jackson. Percy Perrin died at Hickling Broad, Norfolk just after the end of the Second World War.
Another notable cricketer with links to Tottenham (but originally relating to a different sport!) was William. J. Edrich (1916-1986), known as Bill, and who played cricket for Middlesex and England. Originally from Norfolk, Edrich was an outstanding sportsman, and a notable footballer, originally playing for Tottenham Hotspur Football Club, before then focussing on cricket from 1937. Perhaps the sunny international cricket circuit was more appealing to Edrich than the muddy football pitches of England? During his career he toured India, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand during the late 1930s and again after the Second World War.
For the amateur sportsmen during the late 19th to the mid-20th century, it wasn’t so unusual for footballers to play cricket, and vice-versa. Cricket, of course, would be played during the summer months and football during the winter.
And so we have the Hotspur Cricket Club actually predating the formation of the now famous football team – so it might possibly be argued that without cricket you wouldn’t have Tottenham Hotspur Football Club! But we’ll move quickly on from that controversial statement. (And for those who are interested in the very early years of THFC and its emergence from the cricket club, you can see this great brand new book about Bobby Buckle, one of the founding members of the team and its first captain.)
For another Tottenham local who made cricket their career, there was also Alan Moss (1930-2019) – making quite a few distinguished cricketers from the area.
Alongside the Tottenham clubs, there are some long club histories in other parts of the borough too, some of which are still running today. North Middlesex Cricket Club is a well-known name in cricket, with its grounds at 185a Park Road in Crouch End. In its early history, the club’s pavilion was targeted by arsonists in – very likely part of the local suffragette protests at the time. You can read more about this incident and see images and newspaper reports from the time on Harringay Online here.
From the local newspapers of 1963, a 14-year-old Peter Hubert was interviewed with his father at Sutherland Road, Tottenham for an article. The young Peter had been selected to play cricket for Middlesex County schoolboys’ team (he also boxed for Middlesex too). The family had not long previously moved from Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), to Tottenham. For Peter, it was quite a feat for a student from a Secondary Modern School (Parkhurst) to be selected to play for Middlesex County under 15 cricket team. Does anyone else have a similar and local story to tell?
Alexandra Park Cricket Club was formed in 1888 – which at the time of their opening claimed to have the finest ground in north London. Who knows what the MCC thought of that! Or indeed the clowns clowning about whilst playing cricket at Alexandra Palace (below)?
The Hornsey Cricket Club is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year, having been formed in 1870 when two local clubs, the Hanover Cricket Club and the Phoenix Cricket Club merged. The new club was based at the ‘Maynard Arms’ – the pub was club’s pavilion, changing rooms and used to store the club’s equipment. It presumably was also used for the post-match celebrations or commiserations. The original ground was roughly where the junction of Tivoli Road and Wolseley Road now is, on the other side of Park Road to the Maynard Arms.
Other pubs in Crouch End that had cricket teams include ‘The Railway Tavern’ in Crouch End Hill. The ‘Railway Taverners’ 1st cricket team can be seen in the photograph below in 1981. We can spot former councillor David Winskill, centre middle row, cradling a large Watney’s Party Seven bulk tin of Red Barrel bitter (the tin was an iconic sight of 1970s knees-ups), presumably for the celebration straight after the photograph (although beers in the pub might have been more flavoursome!).
School teams were often where most young boys had their first experience of the game but, as I noted before, cricket is not everyone’s cup of tea.
Here are some recollections from 1938 by long-time friend of Bruce Castle and contributor to some of our previous posts, Jim Clark (1925-2018), who was forced to play cricket as a boy at school during the 1930-40s:
“ The girls played hockey in winter and tennis in summer. Boys played cricket. This was almost as miserable for me [as rugby] though in a different way….
One was not in action the whole of the time – that was the only good thing about it. I didn’t properly understand the rules of this game either and could neither bat, bowl nor field effectively as you shall hear. I was assigned to the position of ‘long-stop’ as it was believed I would do less harm there. Wrong! When the ball passed the wicket-keeper I was not paying attention and the ball passed me as well. Shouts of abuse – meanwhile runs were being taken. I run after the ball, pick it up and throw it to the wicket-keeper, but I throw it short – more runs taken and more shouts of abuse.
Later in the match it becomes my turn to bat. My opposite number at the other end of the pitch is receiving the ball, so all I do is stand and wait. I look idly up at the sky and there is a loud shout of ‘RUN!’ It seems that the ball has been hit for one run and I see the other batsman running speedily towards me and had already reached more than halfway to my end….
I am bewildered – I see the bails come off at the other end, I am still in my crease so he is ‘out’! His temper was well frayed and he thought I should have been ‘out’. That would have suited me but they would not have it and I had to stay ‘in’, though was soon ‘out’ for no runs—hardly ‘the man of the match’. I made few friends on the cricket field. I trust I have made it clear why I was never nominated for the title “Sportsman of the Year”! ‘.
Although the men’s fixtures have always received more media coverage than women’s cricket until recent years, women have been interested in playing cricket from very early on – as this image below of a cricket match between Hampshire and Surrey in Newington Green in 1811 shows.
Today, England and Wales have a world leading women’s cricket team, and there are women’s county cricket teams, local leagues and school teams for people to join. The cricket academy set up at the Selby Centre in Tottenham in the 1980s and 90s ran a dedicated training for women and girls.
For any women interested in playing, the North London Cricket Club based at the Crouch End Playing Fields in Montenotte Road have a team who play league and friendlies – drop them a line.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the great variety of cricket’s terms and don’t know your ‘googly’ from your ‘grubber’ or your ‘tailender’ from your ‘twelfth-man’ – this link might help!.
And if anyone can put a name to any of the cricketers in our photographs, or indeed have any other memories or stories about cricketing – even like Jim’s! – please do get in touch.
So we’ll sign off there, hoping for better weather conditions for the next Test – at least it’s not snowing!
Until our next post – take care, keep safe and well
Best wishes from us all at Bruce Castle