Nottingham Hospitals Archives 2011
“The Trent and I go wandering by”
Robert George Hogarth
CRICKET, FOOTBALL AND ATHLETICS
A man's not worth much if, with the blessing of a fit body, he has spurned participation in some form of sport which calls for ability to withstand a few hard knocks.
Luckily, being possessed of, and always aiming to retain a men's sana in corpore sana, I have been able to take no small part in various forms of sport. This does not mean (and indeed it need never mean for any) that I have been in the first flight has an all-rounder – though I did enjoy the highlights in football, as I did in general athletics, with particular stress on running and jumping.
There are many who regard these reiterations of sporting activity has merely nostalgic – but, I contended, there are just as many who would be the poorer if some dog who has had his day did not record the pleasant memories of the past, and perhaps give thereby something for reflection in the future!
I have derived the greatest player from games. Even if one's personal performances have not reached beyond the mediocre in some, and to the fringe of first class in others, is something of a blessing – and that blessing is mine!
How much, too, can sport helping your career! I can instance many a case in my watch upon the career of others; I can more certainly endorse the belief from my own actual experiences. How many times can I sense that I was myself given preference over others, first because (other things being fairly equal) I was the gamester, or mine was the name which readily occurred in some appointing Board, who also kept their eyes on the sporting items of the day!
Particularly, I can remember this factor being concerned in my appointment as House Surgeon and House Physician – and a very valuable appointment it was! Was not the scale in my favour largely because the appointing Committee recalled my having been Captain of the Cricket and Football XI’s that Barts – and the 100 yards, 220 yards, and Long Jump representative at the same in the United Hospital Sports; finally, Captain of the United Hospitals team?
The point was – everyone knew me, and further, they would know me to be a fit and energetic man, looking after himself, and not one to racket about – for, indeed, otherwise, how would a man have achieved even this much in such a medley of sport?
Let each, younger than me, reflect, too, upon the other aspect to this subject – what a variety of friends can you make under the common bond of love of the game!
It isn't football that I possibly shone the most, for from very early age, I seem to have outstripped the majority of my contemporaries, and gained schoolboy success which took me to St Bartholomew's already known in the Football, as well as in Running and Jumping spheres. So be it, I was soon in The Barts XI, and representing them in many an athletic contest.
We won the Hospital Football Cup on several occasions during that time, and curiously enough, there were two Nottingham people in the team – Dr Coulby who also kept Goal for Notts County, was our Goalkeeper, and Fred Dickson, Johnny Dixon's brother, played Centre Forward. With that team, we managed to do something that no Hospital team had ever done before; we got to the Final of the London Senior Cup and played Woolwich Arsenal (now the Arsenal) at the Oval, but we had to play through all the preliminary qualifying rounds which began in October.
I cast no aspersions on the present day Clubs (for conditions of play and the fairness of performances are so vastly different now) in telling the following experiences. They will at least serve to show progress in sport!
We played a club in the south of London – I am not quite sure of its name. There were no penalty kicks in those days and no goal nets, so that if a foul was given for you and it happened to be about a yard from the opponents Goal Line, you all lined up and the ball got into the middle of you, something like a Rugby Scrum. Well, having got a foul just about a yard from the Goal line, we all lined up, and put our heads down and pushed for all we were worth. We pushed the whole of the other side through the goal with the ball! Incidentally, we won that match by 10 goals to nothing.
No Referees Charts and Instructions to Referees existed in those days!
Perhaps our greatest triumph as a hospital team was against Milwall Athletic, a professional side whom we met on two occasions in a battle royal. And battle royal it had to be, for you are allowed in those days a pretty free hand (or should I say, body and shoulder) in the matter of charging your opponent. Having a really tough test of backs and half-backs, we determined that our best method of success against Milwall Athletic would be to knock their forwards off their feet. We did, but they had ideas too, and the first occasion saw a 1-1 draw. The replay brought us victory, and our 2-0 win entitled us to meet The Arsenal at the Oval.
Do not, for a moment, visualise this as comparative to a Wembley Cup Final – look upon it as an occasion when the roughest of teams ever put out by a Hospital did battle against the professional, and so it turned out, a more skilful team who won by 3 goals to 1. But it was not so much the rough football which I recall, as the almost fanatic behaviour of our supporters and theirs!
Almost every Medical Student in London, using hired buses, attended that match. Our particular contingent took a flag with them, and planted it (rather in the position of the rallying point) on one side of the ground.
Shortly after the contingent of Woolwich Arsenal supporters arrived, and made as if to knock down our flag. The free fight which ensued was a not very auspicious opening to the game!
I remember W. W. Read (who was then the Secretary of the Surrey County Cricket Club, and whose ground we played), coming to me, as captain of the hospital team and saying "You must get that flag taken down, or we shall have to call in the police." So I said, "Well I will come out, if you will come out with me, and have tried, but I don't think I shall manage it! So I got out and I managed to address our supporters and in the end they gave me the flag, which I took into the pavilion at the Oval, where it lay on the top of the lockers for a long, long time – so much for our beautiful black-and-white flag! Well, the Arsenal won 3 goals to 1 in the end, but if we laid plans to knock Milwall out in the semi-final, the Arsenal obviously meant to lay me out in this final, because they made this pretty certain within the first 20 minutes, and I wasn't much use for the rest of the match. However, that was a very memorable occasion in the annals of our Hospital football.
It will be of interest to Nottingham people if I recall my first meeting with Tinsley Lindley, one of our most famous of amateur centre forwards.
In 1886, when I was leaving school, London was due to play Glasgow; I think it was, at the Oval. In those days, intercity matches were great events and drew tremendous interest. As a slim youth, with but a good spell of school football behind me, I little thought that it would be so soon fall to me to play for our capital city – it did, and that's how Tinsley Lindley comes into the story.
I suddenly found myself chosen as a reserve forward for the forthcoming intercity game, and I went down to the Oval, proud to have reached consideration, and looking forward to seeing the great match in which our London XI was practically international. There was Mooning goal, the brothers Walters at full-back, and names such as Holden White, Saunders, J. Lambie, E. C. Bainbridge and Tinsley Lindley on the card.
Tinsley Lindley arrived and announced that he was quite unfit to play, whereupon Pa Jackson (who then ran the Corinthians), and the two Walters brothers said, "You've just got to play, Tinsley Lindley; we can't play that schoolboy, Hogarth, as centre forward, and it will mean upsetting the whole forward line."
I overheard these words, and felt that, if I did have to play, I should not be enjoying the full confidence of the Chief Mentors.
Fortune not only favours the brave at football, it sometimes favours the unknown and, for the ultimate issue was the type played in Tinsley Lindley's place, and was so disdained by the opponents, as an unknown, that they left me completely unmarked and I notched the three goals which mattered!
For my own side rumbled, that for all they had to do was to pass the ball to this despised schoolboy who being unmarked, promptly steered it into the net!
From that day, Tinsley Lindley and I became staunch friends, playing on many an occasion as partners in the forward line, and remaining in closest contact until his death, which non-regretted more than I did.
It was about this period that I found myself called upon by many different clubs. I played often for the Casuals and occasionally for the Corinthians, and for another very good amateur club, known to many of my day, but no longer in being, The Swifts. It was for The Swifts that I played in a memorable cup tie against Sheffield Wednesday on the old Olive ground at Sheffield.
We had what was almost an international side, and though I got our first goal in the first 10 min or so, I was badly crocked a few moments later, and took little part in the remainder of the game, which we eventually lost 2 – 1.
Though I played for the London Caledonians, and was in their side which then won The Middlesex Cup, it was against West Bromwich Albion (who had won The FA Cup but a week previously) that I finished my first class football career – this last as a Corinthian and as a partner to Tinsley Lindley.
Tinsley Lindley was playing centre, and he didn't at all like the attentions of the West Bromwich Centre Half, I think his name was Charlie Perry. So much so, that at half-time, he said, "You go centre now. I said, "I don't want to." He said, "You have jolly well got to do what you are told!" So I did what I was told, that Perry so damaged my left knee (by sitting on it) that I never played anymore really first class football. When I came to Nottingham, I did play more football, but it was of a less serious nature and I never really got quite sound again.
Before I close my personal experiences – as a player – there is an item, which serves to show, by comparison with present-day tendency, the rather stupid snobbery which we amateurs adopted in relation to our professional counterparts.
Upon my giving quite a credible display in a charity match in London against Preston North End (that was in the eighties, and when P.N.E. were the team with all the talent), I received an invitation from their manager – his name was Sudell, who sent me a telegram invitingly to play for Preston the following week as their outside right had been crippled. Well, I didn't play, because I consulted N.L. Jackson (I was only a boy) who really sort of dominated the amateur football in the South, and asked him what he thought I ought to do. And he said, "Certainly you mustn't play – we can't have you playing with a professional team," – so that was that. I kept the telegram for years and I think I have got it now.
Well, I could go on writing all sorts of stories about football matches, people I have seen, played with, and made lifelong friends with, the time must move along and talk about something else – my association with out to great local clubs – Nottingham Forest and Notts County.
Besides getting a great deal of happiness and pleasure out of football, I had to keep more or less fit, and to do that is good for everyone. I was appointed, soon after starting practice in Nottingham, as a Doctor to the Forest Football Club and later as Dr to the Nott’s County Club. Those were very pleasant jobs, and although they may not have been particularly remunerative, I attended all the home matches, which I enjoyed very much. The exceptions, perhaps, were the times when Notts, and Forest played one another, and when I had to be particularly careful not to say which side I favoured, but somehow, I think, I managed to evade the matter successfully, although I don’t mind confessing now that I always had a slight partiality for the Forest. Possibly that may have been because I like to recognise that they adopted me first. It may not be generally known that, of all the clubs in the leagues, Nottingham Forest is the only private club – the others are companies – and Nottingham Forest still continues to be a private concern today. Of course, I did not have to go away to matches, that I wouldn't have done, but I did go with Forest to two semi-final cup ties, both of which I think we ought to have won, but we didn't. I forget the years, but one was when we played Bury in the semi-final of the cup at Stoke. We didn't get on very well in the first half and we were one down at half-time. Our chaps seemed to have lost their dash and I remember that I suggested to the chairman and the members of the committee who were there, that we should give the players some champagne – about half a tumbler each. It seemed rather curious treatment, but we decided to do it and hastily secured some bottles champagne, and each player had a half tumbler full. Well, it seemed to act therapeutically in the way I thought it might, and it wasn't long before we got an equalising goal. But unfortunately the effects of this champagne began to wear off and we were fairly lucky in the end to achieve the draw at one goal each. The replay took place at Bramhall Lane, Sheffield. That was quite a sensational match. When we got on the ground and our players turned out ready to kick off, not of the Bury team had arrived and they hadn't arrived after a further 10 minutes. Meanwhile, our men were kicking the ball about, then two of the Bury men arrived, already changed. We discovered that their train had broken down. They had changed in the train and came as quickly as they could in a cab. The full Bury XI arrived in two’s and three’s. The referee, however, started the game with only eight of their men on the field, and Forest soon took a two-goal lead. As soon as they got going, Bury began to show very good form and about 5 minutes from time, the score was 2 to 1 in our favour. Just then, their outside right centred the ball right across our goalmouth, Alsop punched it out – and it went to the feet of their centre forward McLucky, who popped it in in the goal and made it 2 all! And so it was necessary to play extra time, during the second half of which Bury got another goal and beat us 3-2. Unfortunately, in that entire match, we were without Frank Forman, who was recovering from pneumonia. I think if he had played, we would certainly have one and would thus have been in the final. However, Bury won the final quite easily!
The other semi-final of the FA Cup, which I attended with Forest, was when we played Southampton at Tottenham. We scored first in this match and if we had played anything like up to early form, we should have won it, but they beat us 2-1. They had their famous defence, C.B.Fry and Molyneux as full-backs, and Robinson in goal. That defence was picked for England against Scotland. I always feel, reflecting upon those two matches, that Forest ought to have won the Cup again.
I regret that I was unable to see them win the F.A. Cup in 1898.
I am very proud to find myself now the President of the Forest Football Club and to have is a great friend of mine, they Chairman, Mr H. R. Cobbin. I once had the pleasure of doing a little cutting job for him, when he seemed to be in serious trouble, and I am glad to think that he was able to pull through. Anyhow, he has never forgotten my service and he is more grateful to me for it than any patient I have ever treated in the whole of my surgical career. He has certainly been a grand Chairman for Forest, and I can say this with the knowledge of several good ones before.
Then there is my old friend, the Vice-Chairman Frank Forman – whom in his day I deemed as the finalist’s half-back I have ever saw kick a football. He was wonderful, both in attack and in defence, and represented England many times. I have attended him for many injuries, but he was one of the, what I call, pretty tough ones – and I have attended too many.
But of all the football players Forest had during my long connection with the club, the one who stood the worst knocks and was hardly ever absent due to injuries was Arthur Capes.
Forest have had a number of secretaries, who have all been friends of mine, but none of them have been so good or able a secretary as Noel Watson. I think Forest have been very fortunate to enjoy his service all these years, and what a fine referee he was too!
Although I have written a good deal about Forest, I shouldn't like it to be felt that I wasn't also very proud to be a doctor to Notts County. I took a great interest in their matches – I used always to go, of course, and I have made many lifelong friends through this association. They too, had some excellent officials and players, whom I shall never forget. But of course I wasn't so long connected with the County as I was with Forest.
How strange it is that we now reached the sere and yellow, and more apt to recall correctly some trivial matter connected with sport of the many years past, and yet cannot – however great may be our momentary interest – remember, say, the winner of the current year's Derby.
But it's these little isolated trivialities that stick! In 1890, I entered for the Amateur championship, for the 100 yards and for the long jump. The championship was stage at Aston lower ground and the day was particularly wet.
I was then just an also-ran in the hundreds, but I got soaking wet, and returning to the dressing tent, I was minded not to risk the long jump under such appalling conditions. I voiced my opinion, and I was about to scratch, an Oxford Blue, whom I did not have the pleasure of knowing, most kindly offered me some dry togs, saying – "I should enter if I were you." Where an he got me a fine set of shorts and vest, trimmed with the familiar dark blue.
Carrying an umbrella and clad in a Macintosh, I made my entry – and with my very first jump, won the event! I knew it wasn't my best jump, but nobody beat it, and I was surprised, seeing that Bulger of Dublin University, who had twice previously won the event, was quite expected to complete his hat-trick!
With the rain, a slippery take-off and a grass run-up with which to contend, it was not long-jumping under normal conditions, so that my first-jump success must have upset general expectation – not excluding my own!
My Felsted School records prompted me to keep on trying in more competitive spheres. At Felsted, I won every event (except the one-mile, in which I did not compete) – in the last of my six happy years there.
I might have been classed as an all distance fellow – four I took the 100, 220, Quarter, Half, High and Long Jump (the latter as a Public School Record), and even won the bicycle race – an event not usually associated with the purely athletic contests of today. At St Bartholomew's, I therefore was soon accepted as a member of the athletics team, and represented the Hospital in the hundred, 220, and long jump, which latter event I won several occasions, and held the United Hospitals record. There were years, too, when I also represented Barts, in the 100 and 220.
It was in these early medico days that I was running the 120 yards handicapped, stage at Lillie Bridge by one of the London Harrier Clubs, I forget which.
Being somewhat unknown, I was given a goodly handicap and though I did not anticipate reaching the final, at least I felt for the first heat it would be money for jam for me. Accordingly, I tipped myself to a good number of my Barts friends, who obtained from the Bookies (regular in evidence at these meetings) some long odds, and who reaped financial reward from my success.
But not so for the succeeding heats, for I found myself up against stiff competition, and in other sports meetings to come, I found my handicap at a much reduced – in most cases to a back-mark!
I get little chance of seeing first-class athletics these days, but even in listening to the excellent descriptions of events on the radio, I cannot help wondering if these athletes would have outstripped the men of my day, had the former to compete under conditions with which the latter had to content.
But success is welcome – the red or dark track surface replacing the (not too well mown) graphs, the microphones starting replacing the starters shout, and the consistent and organised training facilities supplanting the haphazard, even if most earnest, form in which we had to indulge.
I shall listen to and heed of the 14th Olympiad as keenly as any, but my vision will be of days at Lillie Bridge and the like.
In writing his Nottinghamshire Cricket and Cricketers, the late F. S. Ashley-Cooper (one-time secretary of the County Cricket Club), could not have expressed anything with which I could more agree than "May Nottinghamshire and its Cricketers flourish!"
I can endorse this, for my love of cricket – and cricket in Nottinghamshire and at Trent Bridge – is exceptional, and probably very exceptional for one who cannot himself claim to have been amongst its exponents.
So when in 1932 I was elected as President of Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club, you will realise that it was with the greatest pleasure that I learnt of my selection, even with some surprise that, not being much of a cricketer, I should find myself in this happy and exalted position.
The year 1932 was a memorable one in the world of cricket, for was it not at this period that the prowess of our two Notts bowlers Harold Larwood and Bill Vose, was so prominent – not to mention the lengthy controversy which the word "Body-line" produced. I was one who telegraphed my congratulations to them for the way in which they skittled the Australians, and I would be only too glad to have a chance of sending a similar telegram to some other Harold or Bill who was doing likewise! We could do with a Larwood and a Vose today – I'd like to have seen the 1948 Australians facing our two that their best.
Since I was president of the County Club, I have been on the Committee continuously and I am still on, although I keep telling the club that I am too old, but, as I am still able to give them good advice (I hope) about the physical condition and injuries to the players, I think most of them still like to have me amongst them, which is most gratifying.
I could, of course, write lots of details about cricket matches in which I have played, but most of these would show up my own lack of skill, I shall have to restrain myself and keep to one or two references.
When I first left school, I was asked to play in an important match against the M.C.C. and I was very nervous. I went into field at third man, when the M.C.C. went in after having won the toss. In the first over, I missed catching and international cricketer who came in first for them. I went out to field why the sight screen, and, as we now had a slow bowler on at this end, the same international player hits the ball nearly as high as Salisbury Cathedral spire, and straight towards me near the site screen. I thought I can now make amends for this first miss, so I ran into position, got well under the ball, but instead of getting it in my hands, it went through them, hit me on the chest, making a noise like a drum, and I felt on my behind. Naturally my notes were not improved by these two blunders, but I returned to third man again. Again the great player put one straight at me, and I, of course, politely put it on the carpet. So three times in three overs I missed the man who proceeded to make 170. When I went in, I was out first ball in both innings, so you will understand why I was never asked to play again in a really important encounter.
I remember playing in a Cup Tie for Barts in the Hospital Cup Competition. When the last man came in to bat, the other side required two runs to win the match. I was fielding at third man and this last player took a violent hit at the ball which went off the edge of his bat, very high, between mere at third man and cover point. I heard our captain call my name to take the catch, which I proceeded to do, and I feel sure I could have caught it, but just as I was about to receive it into my hands, I was violently struck on the head by cover point, who had rushed to the same spot, and we both lay on our backs in the semi-unconscious state, while they ran the two necessary runs and won the match.
From the time I first came to Nottingham, I always went to Trent Bridge to watch the County Cricket, but I little thought then that someday I should become the President of the Club and for so long, a member of the Committee.
There have been great changes in county cricket during these years – I'm afraid not all of them for the best. For one thing, I deplore very much to see how many fewer amateurs are playing in county cricket. I don't mean regular players of the county team, but we used to put them in a match or two, or even one match. They always livened up the game and I am sure interested the members very much.
But before closing these references to cricket, I must mention that, when I first came to Nottingham, I used to go for weeks cricket tour with a club which styled itself as "The Fireflies". Our week was at Skegness each summer, where we met various sides and including Skegness and District, who could always be relied upon to field a good side.
But I have made one reference above, upon which I must enlarge – the subject of the amateur in the cricket world. It might not be inappropriate to finish this chapter by quoting the speech which I made at a dinner of the Notts Amateur Cricket Club.
The Notts Amateur Cricket Club
I rise to propose a toast of the Notts Amateur Cricket Club. I do so with a lively sense of the delicacy required in handling the word amateur. It is as prickly to the touch as it is awkward to define. I heard, indeed, of a schoolboy’s definition the other day which may hit the mark passably well in some company, but misses the whole target in this. An amateur said this bright boy, is like Mr Billy Bennett, almost a gentleman. I thought it prudent therefore to have recourse to the Oxford Dictionary. There I was agreeably reminded of what I once knew by heart, that amo means I love and that an amateur, in its primitive meaning, is one who is in love with a thing. Then it came to mean a person who cultivates anything as a past time as opposed to one who makes a profession of it, and from that it easily takes on a rather disparaging connotation, whereby your amateur cricketer or surgeon or gardener, or whatever a man's hobby or pursuit may be, becomes by implication a dabbler or some aptitude and tenuous achievement. I will leave it to your consciences, gentleman, to sort yourself out in your respective categories, but, for the harmony of the evening, I adjure you not even to whisper your opinion as to the class to which your neighbour belongs. And, after all, as I have shown, whether he makes a dashing century every week, or is just a rabbit from any old hutch, he can claim an equal title to the honourable name of Amateur.
It is natural; of course, that the amateur cricketer should flourish in Nottingham, for Notts has produced a long and brilliant line of cricketers, both amateur and professional, as any county in the land. Just let me mention a few famous names. I begin with Old Clarke, best of all lob bowlers, Father of Notts Cricket, founder of the All-England 11, apostle of length, flight and head work: Sam Redgate, one of the best of the early round-arm bowlers and John Jackson, who was certainly the fastest and by common consent, one of the greatest bowlers of all time; Jimmy Grundy, Jemmy Shaw; William Oscroft; Joseph Guy, artist and stylist with the bat: George Parr, the lion of the North, successor to Fuller Pilch as the champion batsmen of England in his day; Richard Daft, an elegant model for all young cricketers; Alfred Shaw, Fred Morley, Dick Attewell, Scotton, Mordecai Sherwin, Walter Wright, one of the first of the servers; Shrewsbury Barnes, William Gunn, Wilfred Flowers, A. O. Jones, and many other of yesterday and today whose exploits are known wherever cricket is played. In the achievement of these whom I have named, you can trace the evolution of the game of cricket, stage by stage, from underhand bolding to round arm; from round-arm to over-arm; from straight bolding to the swerve and the googly; from hit-or-miss slogging to cultivated, organise scientific batsman-ship. Many of these cricketers were not merely first-class players, but pillars of the game, and pioneers who did something more than their fellows for the development and improvement of the game.
In the Tests Matches in Australia in 1884-5, Scotton, Shrewsbury, Barnes, Flowers and Attewell – five Notts men – played in every one of the five tests of the series. I believe no other county can make such a claim, and I doubt whether any other county has had ten men in a county match side that had already played for England against Australia, or afterwards enjoyed that distinction. That was the boast of the Notts side which played Surrey in 1885. May I recall also that amateurs played a much more commanding part in cricket when regular county sides were unknown, and titled patrons of the game spent a good deal of time and money in playing cricket themselves and engaging others to do the same. Finding the most outstanding of the old school of "Gentleman" players appeared on the Nottingham Forest Ground many years ago for All England against 22 of Nottingham for a stake of 1000 Guineas. Their names were the Rev Lord Frederick Beauclerk, D. D., Edward H. Budd, Squire Osbalderson, John Willes and William Ward. It was during this period of the Luddite riots and the game was played under a magistrate’s order that play must stop at 7 o'clock for fear of disturbances. A replay of that match would draw a good gate today if only for the joy of seeing Beauclerk and Ward turnout in tight white jackets, neck cloths, japanned shoes, silk stockings and gloves. Lord Frederick reckoned to make five or six hundred pounds a year out of his cricket – presumably by wagers, but how he contrived to get his Doctorate of Divinity, I have never discovered. At Redbourne Church in Leicestershire, where he was vicar for 22 years, his parish clerk announced one Sunday morning: "The Vicar is going on Friday to be throwing off of the Leicestershire hounds, and cannot return home until the following Monday. Therefore, next Sunday there will not be any service in the church." Anyway, peace be to his ashes!
He bowled slow underhand twisters and would dash his hat to the ground with an oath if a special twister just missed the wicket. That might be thought shocking in a Doctor of Divinity, but then he was also in direct unapostilic succession from Charles II.
Osbaldeston, the Squire came from Yorkshire and was known throughout the land is what Arnold Bennett called a Card. For 35 years he was master of various packs of hounds, he was a fearless rider, and as a game shot had no superior. Osbaldeston was the only sportsmen barred by the renowned Captain Horation Ross in open challenges to walk and shoot. In 1818 he was matched at a single wicket against George Brown at Brighton (whose underhand the bowling was so fast that at Lord's he once bowled a ball that ripped through a coat held by a long-stop and killed a dog on the other side). After the match, in which he was soundly beaten, in a violent fit of temper, he crossed his name off the list of members at Lord's.
Edward Budd played cricket in the most distinguished company for half a century, his last match for the M.C.C. being in 1852. For 50 years he took out a shooting licence, and for 25 years he was a match for any man in England at running, jumping, boxing, cricket, tennis and billiards! In the match on the Forest ground which I have mentioned, Budd took no fewer than nine catches.
John Willes was a daredevil, handsome, hard riding landowner in Kent and Sussex; a man of irresistible good fellowship; and man of many parts and many escapades. He did much the cricket. In the days before railways, he spent £100 a time in taking an 11 from the Kent countryside in the neighbourhood of Sutton Valence, his home, to play in London. When the Sutton Valence team, after Willes own playing days were over, returned late from an away match, they always found whiskey, brandy, glasses and a bucket of water outside the hall of his house. And in return for the refreshment, it was the custom to serenade him with good rousing songs of the hunting field. He taught his dog to retrieve the ball at cricket practice, his sister bowling, and it was said that Willes, his sister, and his dog, could be most Elevens in England. He invented round arm bowling, which met with fierce opposition, and matches in which he took part frequently ended in uproar, the crowd swarming onto the field and uprooting the stumps. The climax came when in 1822 he opened the bowling for Kent v. M.C.C. at Lord's and was promptly no balled (for throwing) by Noah Mann. Willes threw down the ball in disgust, mounted his horse (which was tethered near the playing area) and road out of the ground and out of cricket history. Yet round arm eventually became the standard style.
William Ward, the last of my little group, was MP for the City of London, a Director of the Bank of England and an unrivalled hand at piquet. In 1825 Thomas Lord proposed to sell his ground for building land. Ward asked him how much he wanted for the lease. Five thousand pounds, said Lord, probably without serious thought. Ward pulled out his cheque-book, wrote a cheque for the sum on the spot, and Lord's was saved.
No let it be forgotten that in 1820 he scored 278 for the M.C.C. v. Norfolk, the highest score ever made at Lord's up to that time by any batsmen, and the record stood until Percy Holmes of Yorkshire broke it in 1925.
Think of their descendants in the true line of animus succession; Alfred Mynn, Alfred Lubbock, William Yardley, William Gilbert Grace, the Walkers of Southgate, the Steels, the Littletons, The Studds, the Fosters of Worcester and Frank Foster of Warwick, A. J. Webbe, A. P. Lucas, A. N. Hornby, W. L. Murdoch, Andrew Stoddart, C. L. Townsend, C. I. Thornton, T. C. O'Brien, Archie McLaren, C. B. Fry, Ranji, Gilbert Jessop, Stanley Jackson, Ernest Smith, Lionel Palairet, J. R. Mason, C. J. Kortright, Sammy Woods, The Crawfords, Reggie Spooner, Kenneth Hutchings, Bernard Bosanquet, Walter Brearley, Rockley Wilson. The Gentleman v. Players had a lively meaning when they played. And we remember here with particular refection Johnny Dixon, A. O. Jones, and Charles Wright. What would these have said about the Timeless Test? Possibly something similar to what the public and said when one of his customers protested against the call "Time, Gentlemen, please" as the hour of ten struck. "If you're not drunk by 10 o'clock," he said, "you're not trying."
There is a serious point behind the jest. Those whose names I have mentioned were always trying. Cricket to them was a gay challenge, and adventure, a thing of lusty feeling and execution. While they were on the field, the game was always alert and alive. They were amateurs in the original sense of the term – men who did a thing for the love of doing it, and counted the game beyond the prize. We have fewer amateurs in first-class cricket today than ever before, and the game has lost spirit and personality in consequence.
I hope that no counter attractions or distractions, however alluring, will affect the regular flow of new members into the Notts Amateur Cricket Club, and that it will flourish so long as the Trent flows under Trent Bridge.