EARLY HISTORY


About the time of the first tour, the Club adopted its logo and flag. Mike Gauntlett, who had occasion to visit the South Midlands in the course of his work was in the habit of favouring a hostelry at a bridge over the River Thames near Standlake, Oxon which had as its sign:

 "a rambling rose standing revived in a tankard of ale".

set on a green background, the logo was deemed to be very appropriate and the flag has graced many a cricket ground since..-----------------------------------------------------------------------

The national summer game of cricket in south-west Surrey and, in particular, the village of Chiddingfold, has close historical ties with Hambledon and Broadhalfpenny Down. Indeed Tom Walker, a stalwart of the famous club and known for his stone-wall batting and round-arm bowling, lived in Chiddingfold and died there in 1831, aged 68. Chiddingfold Cricket Club had its home at Sydenhurst, a country house estate behind St.Mary's church and could trace its existence from at least 1881 until World War II. The village before the War had, in fact, fielded 2 cricket clubs. The other was more properly known as Chiddingfold Working Mens' C.C. and played next to the village school on Petworth Road. There was allegedly intensive rivalry between the clubs. During the War the Sydenhurst ground was ploughed up "for the War effort", and in the autumn of 1945 it was felt by returning members that it would cost too much to re-lay. It was decided to adopt the name Sydenhurst, and - in so far as the club would henceforth, be playing 'away' - to add 'Ramblers' to the club's title. The prime mover of the new Sydenhurst Ramblers C.C. was F.T."Mike" Gauntlett, its first Captain who was supported by Harold Cooper, the club's first Chairman and Winton Dean, the first Hon. Secretary. The club's first match was against Farncombe CC at Broadwater, near Godalming on Sunday, July 7th, 1946 and Ramblers won by 8 wickets. A fortnight later the Ramblers defeated Brook & Sandhills CC by 146 runs. Mike Gauntlett already had good connections both at the Kennington Oval and Northlands Road, Southampton for - on this occasion - the Ramblers included J. F (Jack) Parker, the Surrey batsman who had been chosen to go on the (cancelled) 1939-40 M.C.C. tour to India. He contributed 84 runs. Later years would see a number of other well known names taking the field under the Ramblers' flag. Ten fixtures were crammed into the first season - all local, including 3 games v. Merrow. Five were won, four lost with 1 drawn. Twenty seven games were played in 1947 and Mike Gauntlett became the Club's first centurion (111* v. Alton at Courage Sports Ground). His undefeated partnership of 205 for the 4th wicket with Harry Izzard (88*) remains a Club record.

Ramblers, led by their captain, Mike Gauntlett, take the field v. Havant in their very first Tour match Tuesday, August 7th 1951.

From L to R; Reg.Pierce, Norman Mullins, Charlie Izzard, David Dyer, Doug Leach, Frank Broadbent, Mike Gauntlett, Cyril "Mac" McClintock, Havant umpire, 'Gobbo' Hetherington (Ramblers' umpire), Harry Izzard (substitute for Stanley Hodges). Not in the picture - Alf Gover (Surrey & England), David Gover and Hodges.

 The scorebook shows that Havant won easily, having bowled out the Ramblers for 82, by 8 wickets. They continued batting to be all out for 124. Alf Gover returned bowling figures of 7-34 including 3 wickets in 4 balls. The time was still only 5.30pm and so Ramblers batted a second time. Once again they were bowled out in an hour and quarter for 68 and presumably repaired to the bar to drown their sorrows! The following day, Mike Gauntlett took 6-34 at Hayling Park, but Ramblers lost to Hayling Island by 35 runs. On the Thursday at Fareham, Harry Izzard took 6-34 aided by Norman Mullins behind the stumps (3 stumpings and 1 catch), but rain forced a draw. Memories are more particularly clear of subsequent tours based at the "Greypoint Hotel", Findon, near Worthing, West Sussex. Here the the new club undoubtedly established its liking for such undertakings which have largely survived the following 66 years. The Club song originated from the sing-songs that took place on the hotel staircase in the early hours of most days. It is sung to the hymn tune "The Church is one foundation….."

'We are the Sydenhurst Ramblers.
We seldom win a match.
Our bats consist of edges.
We rarely hold a catch.
But when our Skipper calls us
To go to bed at night,
We shout from Marie's bedroom
Blow you Mike, I'm alright!'

Fixtures on tour included Findon, St.Andrew's, Burgess Hill, Stonor, Keymer & Hassocks and Henfield. In 1961 the Tour switched to the West Midlands, based at the Black Boy Hotel, Bewdley and later, the George Hotel, Solihull. Fixtures included Moseley Ashfield, Worcestershire Ramblers, Worcestershire Gentlemen, Claverley, Knowle & Dorridge, Solihull and Cpt. R. H. Hawkins' XI at Everdon Hall, Daventry (see 'Memory Lane'). Many feats are remembered of which perhaps the best were the 2 hat-tricks in the same innings secured by Gerry Cogger (7-19) at Heritage v. Martin Crossley's XI in 1963 and the despatching of Knowle & Dorridge the following year for a mere 22 (Cogger 7-10) - the lowest score ever against the Ramblers. In 1968 the Tour switched to Dorset and ran for the following four seasons. The party stayed initially at the Bramble Hill Hotel in the New Forest and later in Sherborne where in 1970 filming of  "Good Bye, Mr.Chips" starring Peter O'Toole and Petula Clark was taking place. Fixtures included Dorset Rangers at Bovingdon Camp and Lulworth Castle, Sherborne Ushers, Sherborne Town and Dorset Agrarians at Hampshire CCC, Northlands Road, Southampton. The last tour until 1990 took place in 1972.

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STORY OF A GREAT CATCH THE HIT OF THE AFTERNOON TEN WICKETS BY TWO BROTHERS



By A.E.R.Gilligan, Former Captain of England, with Cumberworth sketches.

After seeing the beginning of the Dulwich-Tonbridge match at Dulwich on Saturday, I motored Cumberworth to Chiddingfold, Surrey. The cricket ground, which resembles the Mote Park, Maidstone, and is called Sydenhurst, is at the top of a hill right on the Surrey-Sussex borderland. The property belongs to Mr. Booth, a great old sportsman (he is nearly 80), whose house adjoins the playing field, which has a delightful rustic pavilion. A hayfield marks the boundary on the east side, and a barbed wire fence, which runs on two other sides, has on occasions necessitated considerable repairs to the clothing of fieldsmen. WHAT A CATCH! There is a very sharp drop below the fence, and rumour has it that until 30 years ago there was no boundary on this side of the ground. There is a story that years ago a fieldsman was told to go and field halfway down the hill. After two hours he made a brilliant catch and rushed triumphantly to the top-only to find that he had caught one of his own team, who had disposed of their opponents half an hour previously! Dunsfold won the toss, and Jepps and Remnant opened the innings in fine style quickly putting up 46, when Jepps was well caught at point. W.Voller, a motor engineer, joined Remnant, a farmer's son, and runs came quickly. Remnant, who carried his bat, reminded me of Herbie Collins, the Australian skipper of 1924, by his stance, his running between the wickets, and particularly his effective methods of dealing with the leg-ball. There was an amusing incident-the hit of the afternoon. Dennis Billimore, a builder, whose fielding and accurate returns had been good, provided it. With a lightning return he hit Voller, who was scrambling in a stooping position to regain his crease. It was a full toss, and Voller was struck hard in an unexpected....but I said he was stooping. Carter, the Chiddingfold captain (a builder) consulted with Denyer (employed at Cooper's walking-stick factory), who was bowling right-hand medium, and re-arranged his slips. This astute move saved many runs. Carter, who has only one eye, dismissed two men caught and bowled; the second, which got rid of Preston, being a very remarkable catch indeed. NOT ONE BYE


The infection spread, and Jacques, who works at an aircraft factory, brought off two really brilliant catches at mid-on. Dennis Billimore was his fortunate bowler. He bowled very well to take 5 for 20. Martin, also an employee at the walking-stick factory, kept wicket magnificently, and did not concede a single bye. The wicket was inclined to be fiery, and the way he stopped several rising balls was memorable. During the interval, I was delighted to meet Mr.H.T.Chalcraft, who had come specially from Guildford to remind me that he played with my father nearly 40 years ago for the Brixton Wanderers at the Old Greyhound ground, Dulwich. I also saw Mr.Bowley, Ted Bowley's father, who was delighted at his son's great success for Sussex in his benefit year.



IN THE PAVILION

A group of villagers seated on an enormous tree trunk, with hay scattered about, made a very pleasant picture. Chiddingfold opened disastrously against the fast right-hand bowling of C.Voller, a carpenter, and his brother W.Voller. Scotcher, whose father keeps the Sun Inn at Dunsfold, brought off two brilliant catches at the wicket. The Dunsfold fielding was certainly very keen, and the men were well placed. The Vollers bowled unchanged. At tea, which Mrs. Denver served in the pavilion, Keith Cooper drew attention to my "Hints on Batting" which the "News Chronicle" published in 1929. The "hints" were exhibited on the wall. Cumberworth said he hoped they were not the cause of Chiddingfold's downfall. Wickets again fell quickly after tea, and Denyer, whose batting was outstanding and very plucky, was caught off a rising ball at third-man. Then N.Rockwood, who gives and takes chaff equally well, provided us with the most delightful walk to the wicket. The "hero of the team", as his cricket mates dub him, also produced the most extraordinary style of batting I have ever seen. He slid backwards and then forwards, and, in attempting to cut a ball wide on the off, did the splits! K.Cooper said a film-star could not have done it better. His partner was quickly bowled, and a delightful afternoon of real village cricket ended in Dunsfold winning by 52 runs.

DUNSFOLD

A.F.Jepps c Mullard b Gamble 31
P.Remnant not 46
G.Erricker b Denyer 6
C.Voller b Mullard 0
W.Voller c and b Carter 27
W.Tidy c H.Cooper b D.Billimore 4
Capt. Preston c and b Carter 4
L.J.Conway b D.Billimore 0
 F.Matthews c Jacques b D.Billimore 1
F.Scotcher b D.Billimore 0
A.Rodman c Jacques b D.Billimore 1
No Ball 1
TOTAL 120
Bowling: D.Billimore five for 20

CHIDDINGFOLD

D.Billimore c Scotcher b C.Voller 1
H.Cooper c Scotcher b W.Voller 1
A.Denyer c W.Voller b C.Voller 36
S.Carter c and b W.Voller 0
R.Gamble b W.Voller 9
 K.Cooper c Scotcher b W.Voller 0
C.Martin c C.Voller b W.Voller 4
R.Mullard c Matthews b W.Voller 1
N.Jacques c Scotcher b W.Voller 7
N.Rockwood not out 1
S.Billimore b C.Voller 5
Extras 3
TOTAL 68
Bowling: W.Voller 7 for 36; C.Voller 3 for 29

Notes:

Harold Cooper was the first President of Sydenhurst Ramblers being involved with the Club until 1957. He and his brother Keith owned the walking-stick manufacturers, Cooper & Sons, referred to in the above article. Both were supporters of Brook CC. In 1987, Chris Terry made an approach to the then owners of the Sydenhurst ground with a view to purchase on behalf of the Club "while I am young enough to get everything established for the next generation". A price was agreed but unfortunately Chris was unable to attract sufficient funds from the local authority and elsewhere to top up his own planned contribution.

Back to an Uncertain Future?

In the film series, the hero – McFly – always manages against almost impossible odds to return safely to the present day. Reading some of the submissions to the Acumen site, and hearing about some of the postings on the new ACU&S message board, it struck us that there is a proportion of the ACU&S membership set absolutely on a return to a past from which escape may not be an option.

Colin Pearson wrote recently that he can see nothing to be gained from joining forces with ECB. Let ECB concentrate its efforts on the upper levels of umpiring, he said – for ease of reference, we are omitting scoring from the discussion, although it is very much a part of it, of course – and ACU&S can get on happily looking after the other and far larger segment. Some other correspondents, who seem to be instructors and/or examiners, have stated that they will go into retirement rather than be a part of a merged body.

Our reaction to the latter element is that, by voicing that sentiment, they may be doing no more than to reveal that efforts they put into the umpiring sector would seem to have been motivated less by love of the game than the satisfaction derived from the kind of status they felt they enjoyed in one particular organisation. Otherwise, why would they withhold their services from a new body taking over responsibility for the same functions? If that is true, then the sooner they sever their links the better. The benefit they may have brought to the game will almost certainly have been outweighed by the damage wrought by their cynicism.

Colin Pearson’s view has an entirely different basis but is equally wrong for all that. We believe that Colin has allowed his deep and long-standing emotional attachment to ACU&S to cloud his thinking. Let us suppose that the ballot produces, as Colin hopes, a “No” vote. Put yourself in the shoes of someone thinking about taking up umpiring. He, or she, will be able to choose between joining one of two outfits. ECB will offer quality umpiring, both in League and Cup competitions, with the chance to progress to higher levels for a modest £20 subscription. ACU&S will offer a poorer standard of cricket, no possibility of advancement, and will charge rather more than half as much again. What would be your decision? There is surely only one answer.

If this analysis is right, then the ECB will enjoy steady expansion, with a regular infusion of young blood into the ranks, while ACU&S finds itself facing depletion of its elderly membership to a point – perhaps in as little as five years – where survival is out of the question. (The same fate, but far quicker, confronts ICUS, which is why we have not bothered to mention it so far. With just a skeleton and aged membership, its financial future is even more desperate. Two years at most will see it jostling for space in the (rather large) dustbin to which all Stuart-King’s ill-fated projects have been consigned).

Will ACU&S members condemn ACU&S to a slow but unavoidable disintegration in the ballot? We hope not. Watch this space.