In 2013 Stoke D’Abernon Cricket Club, a club very much on the up, equalled their best finish in the Surrey Championship. A young side with one or two older heads, formed a powerful bond, and a colts section bursting at the seams looks set to bolster player numbers for 2014 and beyond. Off the field the club is superbly run with a visionary Chairman, an enthusiastic Committee, a prudent Treasurer, a hard working team of colts managers and a highly sociable membership.
So how did we get to this point? As you would expect, the journey hasn’t been a smooth one all the way…
The history of Stoke D’Abernon Cricket Club dates back over 140 years to the 1870s when the local landowners of the day, the Philips family, set aside a field next to the Manor House, (now Parkside School), for cricket matches. Matches were played on Sundays, the team being drawn from the lads and men from the estate and the local farms.
However, Canon Philips is said to have disapproved of Sunday play, and after a few years, the venue for matches moved to Pear Tree Meadow – the site of present-day Winston Drive – until the railway in 1885 forced a further, and as it turned out final, move to the present day ground, then just a field and also part of the Manor House estate. The parish records mention a match against West Clandon in 1892, and during the period until the First World War intervened, the Club’s fixtures were on an informal basis, mainly against other local teams such as Bookham and the Tilt – which was an important local cricket venue before traffic growth and post-war tree planting.
There were strong family connections in the Club at the time – such as the Elsey brothers and their sister – apparently a very good fast bowler – the two Excell brothers and the Coombs, (two brothers), all playing their parts on the field. Mr.Stoton, Headmaster of the Royal Kent School, Oxshott, from 1890 to 1909 was a founder and prominent member during the early years of the Club, initially as a player and during the early years of the 20th century, an umpire.
To the end of the period up until the 1914-18 war, other well known personalities including the Gosden brothers, Ernie Weaver, (a founder member of Strenue), Syd White, Joe Whitely – the long-serving Cobham schoolmaster – and the Rev Arthur Blackburne, Rector of St Mary’s Church for many years, played important parts in helping the development of the Club.
A local Cobham man Tom Rushby played as a professional for Surrey during this era. He was a right arm fast bowler, taking 119 wickets in 1909, and 109 wickets at 7.2 for Accrington in the Lancashire League in 1910, before returning to the Oval. He is thought to have put in some appearances for Stoke, among other local village teams, there being far less club affiliation at this time.
Minutes of club meetings from 1907 onwards provide almost a century of anecdotes, some all too familiar to present-day Committee members.
From 1885 onwards the railway brought Stoke within easy travelling distance of the city of London, and thus the teams included a mix of stockbrokers and other city commuters, farmhands and local traders. The tradition of players coming down from the London ‘smoke’ to play for Stoke is evident from club records of the 1920s.
By 1940 most of the fields between Stoke and Cobham were developed with housing, though the area maintained some of its village character as a distinct community. Up until the 1960s teas seem to have been supplied by the ‘Plough Shop’ which stood where the pub car park entrance is today. Even today several active members all live within a six-hit of the ground.
In 1919, a meeting held in the Men’s Club, (now Stoke D’Abernon Village Hall), agreed to re-establish the Cricket Club. The field was in a very rough state, and at first only a small area was prepared. The remainder of the field was left uncut and no boundaries were marked out. Many fours, (and more!), were all-run, and there were frequent run-outs. Through sheer perseverance, and a great deal of hard physical toil by the members, often starting at around 6am on a match day, aided by two hand mowers and a roller, pulled first by hand and then by a pony, the table was gradually extended. Then an outfield was cut until a ground about the size of a lower half of the present recreation ground was eventually created. The pony which drew the mower had first to be caught in the Schiff fields, the present day Knowle Hill Park, Cargills; then coaxed to the ground, which could take many hours. Later, members went to the lengths of providing the pony with specially made leather boots in order not to damage the playing surface.
The earliest remaining scorebooks of the Club date from this period. Fixtures were still informal – one scorecard shows an XI vs. a XXII, and quite often matches with 12 or 13 a side took place. In 1919 the subscription was set at 5 shillings or 2/6 for boys. During the period from 1919-1932 the Club played on Saturdays, opponents including long-vanished or now merged local sides – Cobham Village, Downside and Oxshott and various wandering clubs, often works teams such as the London and South West Railway, the Water Board and Esher Mills. By the 1930s, matches were arranged further afield in the suburbs with clubs including Whitton Athletic and Cottenham Park, and nearer to home against Vickers, the aircraft factory in Weybridge.
Many fine players took the field for Stoke between the wars, among them George Ionides, a Greek stockbroker who was captain until about 1925. Bill and Jack Martin, Harry Gosden, (who played in special black boots due to the loss of a foot during the war), Freddie Tabor and Harold Simmonds were all stalwarts of the Club during this period. In the late 1920s, Stan Goodman and Tom Tidy were both county triallists. Richard Trenchard, who founded the local estate agents, and his brother George, who took 53 wickets in 1930 at an average of 13, both played for Stoke regularly.
Another able cricketer, and well known local character, was Fred Bolton, a big-hitter reputedly able to clear the poplar trees at the railway end almost at will. Fred was a part-time fireman based at Cobham, who upon hearing the fire warning signal, would immediately head off for the fire station on the Tilt, even if batting at the time. In 1929 he scored 385 runs at an average of 25, a top score of 90 against West End Esher and also 35 wickets at 7.4 apiece. That season, Stoke played 20 matches, won 9, lost 7 and drew 4.
From 1933-34 onwards, the Club’s fixtures were arranged on a more organised basis, with regular First XI fixtures with other clubs and the seeds of the post-war fixture programme were sown. In the early 1930s the Club was offered what was then known as the Stoke Cricket Field free of charge by the Manor House estate, but because a way could not be found to regularly meet the maintenance costs, the Committee had to decline the offer. The field was purchased a few years later by Esher Urban District Council, along with the adjoining land, to form the Stoke D’Abernon Recreation Ground. The Council built the old pavilion the Blundell Lane side of the ground. It was used as changing rooms & showers and was where people watched the game until the new clubhouse was built. It was demolished towards the end of the 1990s.
During the 1939-45 war, the Club ceased to play cricket, however, some members were able to continue playing with Purefoys, the local engineering firm, who played on the ground during this period. The Club resumed in 1946 fielding two Saturday teams, and a few years later took over the Purefoys Sunday fixtures. Gradually the Club built itself up again, and the standard of fixtures improved once more due to the strength of the teams it was consistently able to field.
After the war, with the ground a public park shared with Purefoys and with no clubhouse of its own, the club seriously considered moving elsewhere, perhaps to the grounds across the road used by the London medical schools, now used for training by Chelsea Football Club. Never being a wealthy club, the club was often bailed out by generous local benefactors, and with the Council preparing the wicket at modest cost, the members again let the opportunity pass.
During the late 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, many fine players such as Harry Gowan, Don Weller, Jim and Horace Tappin, Colin Gosden and Peter Higgs, all helped in the development of the Club. Their fine example was carried on into the 1970s by David and Nigel Edwards, Phil Easton, David Willis, (brother of Bob), and many others. At the same time, others played prominent roles in the administration of the Club, notably Colin Gosden and Gus Gaskin.
The Club celebrated its centenary year in 1970 with a tour of Sussex, and a four-day cricket weekend in August, including a game played in period costume, and a President’s XI match with several County players in the opposition, including Mike Hooper of Surrey. David Edwards reached 100 wickets for the season in early August, with 7-39 against Thames Ditton.
The winter of 1970-71 also saw Bob Willis make the first of his 90 test appearances for England, only a short time after progressing from club cricket for Stoke to the Surrey staff. In 12 matches for Stoke in the 1968 season, the teenage Willis took 49 wickets at 6.47 a-piece. Club stalwart Bert Roberts, sadly no longer with us, recalls driving young Willis, a late replacement to England’s Ashes-winning side, from his parents’ house in Bray Road, Stoke, (a few doors from the home of a schoolboy called Chris Gudgeon), to catch the plane to Australia.
One of the most significant developments towards the future of the Club was the setting up of the Colts section, which was established in 1969 through the far-sightedness of Nigel Edwards and several other senior members. Since then, the Colts section has become an increasingly important part of the Club’s structure and is an essential element in its future. Looking back to the scorecards of Colts’ matches in the 1970s underlines the value and long-term benefits of running the section, with many of those players continuing to appear for Stoke in senior cricket, including Mike Cooper, Jeremy Dharmasena and the brothers Finch.
In 1973, after a brief participation in the South West London League, the Club entered the more localised Morrant Wey Valley League on Saturdays, as well as joining knockout tournaments and an annual six-a-side competition, and fielding two Sunday XIs.
There were also regular tours and wives’ outings to the theatre, the 1970s being a quieter era and with less to do on Sundays. Tony Vandensteen bowled all afternoon and impressed the girls in his MG sports car; young city slickers Chris Gudgeon, Adam Jolliffe and Stephen Finch made their debuts – Steve Bowman was a rebellious punk.
Alan Wiseman opened the batting for the seconds with declining form, a match at Chessington giving rise to the, (probable), apocryphal tale of him being clean bowled after a giraffe appeared behind the sight screen.
Stoke also hosted several benefit matches for Surrey players in the 1970s including Mike Edwards and Micky Stewart, though by this time England’s Bob Willis had understandably moved to Warwickshire because Surrey preferred to open the bowling with Geoff Arnold and Robin Jackman, and would not award him his county cap even though he was England’s opening bowler! On one occasion England Test batsman Graham Roope hit the ball into the railway.
By 1980 the League side had a youthful look to it, with an average age of 23, and many of its members formed the backbone of the side throughout the 1980s, including Ian Wellman, Dave Moore and later in the decade Ian Lipscombe, Steve Garner, Chris Hardy and Peter Farenden Jnr – Farenden’s father, also Peter, has the dubious honour of scoring the most runs for the club without having scored a century, but on the plus side effected 103 stumpings in his career, (next highest 48), for the club between 1958 and 1976.
After a shock relegation in 1985, Stoke bounced back as champions of the second division of the League under the captaincy of Paul Worsfold the following season. The match ball for the championship clinching match at Bramley, (Ian Wellman 104 not out, Mike Cooper 5 for 7), is mounted in the clubhouse.
In the late 1980s and into the 1990s, the bowling honours went to Michael Cooper, who took 100 wickets both in 1988 and 1989; while Steve Garner aggregated 1,000 runs in both 1989 and 1990. Cooper would also do the 1000 run/100 wicket double in 1993. The club had a good base of playing members and colts, and was fielding a regular Saturday 2nd XI in the Morrant League as well as maintaining a second team on Sundays.
Two eventful cricket tours to Somerset were enjoyed in 1989 and 1990, organised by Andy Ivory. Once again under Derek Wellman as chairman thoughts turned to improving the club facilities.
David Pappin had succeeded Dick Fairbairn as President in 1986. After much options appraisal and negotiation, planning consent was obtained for the present clubhouse in 1988. This inspired a major fundraising drive culminating in a Celebrity match on Sunday 9th September 1990.
Bob Willis, by now retired from the Test arena, but with fond memories of Stoke, returned to lead a galaxy of cricketers and personalities including John Lever, Norman Gifford, Dilip Doshi, Bill Franklyn, Nick Owen, Ian Taylor MP and that year’s England soccer hero, Gary Lineker, (who signed literally hundreds of autographs from the old Council pavilion window.) A huge attendance and superb organisation by club members notably Chairman Alan Wiseman and Secretary Alan Day delivered a significant boost of around £15-20k. This together with ‘buy-a-brick’ on the timber walls of the old shed, and various grants and loans, enabled construction work to get underway in summer 1992, with club stalwart Roy Johns to the fore as supplier of materials. Members themselves filled in the ditch beside the entrance road to create the necessary additional parking spaces.
The expanding playing membership as the Club passed into the 1990s included several long-term servants of the Club – former Chairman Tony Vandensteen, Roy Johns, the late Harry Harkett and Alan Wiseman. These ‘sturdy oaks’ continued to support the club long after the demise of the distinctive row of horse chestnut trees along the railway embankment, which fell victim to British Rail in the spring of 1987 due to ‘leaves on the line’ and left the ground with a rather barren look for several years.
In addition to the Player of the Year Trophy, the Bob Willis Cup, (most improved player), and the Vice President’s Shield, (club contribution); the England and Australia Cups were originated for the Saturday teams to vote for who they thought had made the best contribution to each team, (not necessarily in recognition of efforts on the field), throughout the season. The ‘Stoke Victory Song’ was also penned around this time by visiting Shell Aussies Peter Weston and Peter Jones.
The focal point of the life of the Club today is the Clubhouse, and it is difficult now to picture how the club previously operated from two different buildings on the ground up until 1992.
(The old clubhouse which was situated behind the present building, reputedly started life as a railwaymens’ hut during construction of the line in the 1880s. It later doubled as a ‘village room’ for local youth at one end and at the other as a shed for the Manor House Estate’s carpenter/handyman. Tom Fuller, who was a well-known local character who lived at 1 Clock Cottages – adjacent to the ground – was a staunch supporter of the Club for many years, both as a player and as an umpire. In 1952, the Estate was sold off and the Estate Shed and the adjacent L shaped plot of land was ‘purchased’ by the Club thanks to generous loans and donations secured from the then President Ivor Phillips, whose family were selling the estate, and from the future President Dick Fairbairn, other local benefactors and Vice Presidents including RJB Anderson. Gradually the club members fitted out part of the hut as a bar and social centre for the club, and cricket teas were also served from there. Access to Stoke Road was secured from British Railways via a now disused side gate. By the 1960s the club had use of the whole building, and nets – and a flagpole – were installed on the club’s land at the rear of the cottages.
The now-demolished council pavilion on the Blundell Lane side of the ground was used as changing rooms, showers and for scoring and spectating from shortly before the war until the end of 1992 season. In the 1960s the high fencing along the boundary with Blundell Lane was provided to prevent damage to the neighbouring properties, and a ‘local rule’ introduced to deter six-hitting at that end of the ground.)The new clubhouse was just ready for the first match of the 1993 season against Oxshott, but the bar licence had not been transferred, so drinks had to be purchased from the old shed for a few weeks! Described by Bob Willis as “suitably atmospheric drinking den” the club said its farewells to the old railway hut and Willis officially opened the new building at the end of May. That week the club also hosted the BBC radio quiz Trivia Test Match, compered by the lengendary “Johnners” commentator Brian Johnston, who died the following year. The late William Rushton and the still alive(!) Sir Tim Rice were on the panel.
The new facilities ensured Stoke were also successful in their application to join the Fuller’s Brewery Surrey County League in 1994. This higher standard of League cricket, with a 55 over first innings, bonus points and winning/losing draws, would test the club for the next fifteen seasons. Fuller’s cricket attracted some new players, but at the same time the local demographics began to impact on the number of younger players coming through. Although the colts section continued to thrive under Derek Wellman, many promising young players started to not return to the area after university or loss of interest in the game. The Sunday 2nd XI dwindled and some players moved across to Saturdays. On the plus side the club acquired new sightscreens, constructed by temporarily unemployed banker Chris Finch, replacing those lost in the 1987 storm.
In 1993-94 a threat to the ground – and indirectly the club – arose through the Council’s plans to develop the Evelyn Way end of the Recreation Ground for housing, with potential for further building if the club could be persuaded to move. The successful ‘Don’t Wreck Our Rec’ campaign, spearheaded by the redoubtable local residents chairman Heather Lee, with support from the club, headed off this proposal for good.
A little later, the club took on management of the square/wicket and signed a self-management lease with the local Council. Bob Spavin was engaged as groundsman and at last the club had the final say on whether the ground was playable – and when the season could begin and end. During more bureaucratic times, the club was often refused permission to play in April and late September by the Council, and admonished for rolling the wicket or cutting the grass itself! The Club are safe in the knowledge that we can add to our small number of October fixtures without reprise from the Council!
Gradually the playability of the wicket improved under Bob’s stewardship, and the club has had to absorb the maintenance costs from the Council, (who still maintain the outfield, ditches and fences.)
The pitch saw innings totals and the number of century partnerships increase. There was still reward for bowlers, though – Paul Worsfold recorded the only ever 10-for, registering figures of 16.5-4-63-10 against the President’s XI on the 22nd July 1994.
The new clubhouse bar also benefitted from Ingrid Reddick’s presence behind it during much of this time, before her retirement in 2002. The late Ollie Hood and Bert Roberts returned to umpire for a few seasons in the 1990s and sexagenerian Roy Johns continued to play regularly for the Saturday 2nds.
The club was fielding two Saturday teams of similar strength in Fuller’s Division 2, and by 1996 it was the Second XI who were first to secure a promotion to Division 1 in their competition as runners-up. Stoke stalwarts Roy Johns, Gary Harkett, Keith Watson and Rick Mustill formed the backbone of the team, captained by wily leg spinner and cricketing afficionado Logie Logendran, with other players drawn from his Sunday wandering club Magpies CC.
Logie endeavoured in vain to win the 1st XI promotion the following year, when they secured their best Division 2 finish of fifth in the table. Several comparatively lean years followed, when it was sometimes a struggle to get 22 players out on a Saturday, and the club had to plead its case to the League. Malcolm Dickson almost single-handedly completed the sides to ensure our survival in 1999 and 2000; only eight players made it to Chobham one year…but nearly pulled off a famous win.
The second XI maintained Division 1 status until 2001, and boosted by the return of Chris Hardy, Chris Gudgeon and overseas registration Ashok Kumar they finished as high as fourth in 2000 before being relegated the following season.
Looking back this success did create a degree of imbalance as the 1st XI were not strong enough to compete for promotion, despite some overseas assistance from Ranga Yasalal in 1998 and Thiru Madhavan in 2000. Malcolm Dickson, Alistair McMillan, Mike Cooper, Chris Hardy, Ralph Coleman and Andy Page were among first team mainstays through this testing patch.
Another loyal player player during this period was Simon Engelen. Arguably one of our greatest ever players, he graduated from the unbeaten colts XI and put a high price on his wicket in senior cricket. Success for Simon, as for the others named above, came late in his career. He was part of the 1st XIs 2007 promotion, averaging 112.00 in the League; and the following year he averaged 83.50 as the 2nd XI won the Fuller’s League. Outside of Stoke, he captained Harrow School’s 1st XI and his housemaster was former Premier League referee David Elleray.
In 2000 Chris Gudgeon took over the colts organisation as his own sons began to play, and became club Chairman the following year. Better links between the colts, parents and senior players were fostered as the sons of former captains Chris Hardy and Paul Worsfold followed in their fathers’ footsteps.
From March 2000 the club also benefitted from being one of the first to have a website courtesy of Andrew Hall, one-time Marketing Manager of CricInfo. Andrew also served as club secretary during this period and was a big loss when business demands proved too great.
In 2003 the ECB commissioned a Play Cricket software package for clubs to use. Whilst it was excellent for immediate results, fixtures and statistics, its limitations called for an improved club site, and other clubs are envious of the site you are looking at today, designed by Matt Gottschalk with input from the Committee and other contributors.
2002 was a watershed year. Playing strength over the previous few seasons meant the club had to seriously consider the option of a merger, but by mid-season it was obvious that was unnecessary as minds were focused on player recruitment and retention. A promising crop of new players arrived through a combination of networking and advertising, and the colts under 17 age group nurtured by David Burdett began to graduate to senior cricket. Another to answer a call to join the Club was Adrian Mills who joined after Temple Bar CC left the Fuller’s League.
Excellent links with Parkside Prep school at Stoke Manor House, and beer supplied by the Running Mare pub on the Tilt gave the club an improved local focus. A record 120 players, parents and guests attended the Annual Dinner; and on the 1st September Bob Willis returned to the ground where he “learned to bowl fast up against the railway cuttings fence” to open new practice nets amid a celebratory colts tournament and special day for this historic club.
From an unsustainable position of just over 40 senior players, a team of passionate volunteers assembled by Chris Gudgeon broadened the colts programme further so that it could feed future senior sides. More than 200 players were registered and thirteen teams were fielded every week.
Younger players always need older heads to mentor them and show them the way, and Stoke were indebted to Siddhartha Lahiri, who, after finding us via our website when he flew in from Bengal; played for the Club from mid 2003 despite overtures from clubs higher up the Surrey ladder. A former team-mate of Sourav Ganguly “Sid” now runs his own cricket Academy out of Parkside School, and a number of club players have graduated from it to raise the playing standard.
At the end of Sid’s first season in the league, where he scooped the League batting award, the Club held an end of season dinner in the Media Centre at Lord’s. One of the paying guests was Chris Tarrant, whose son spearheads the Club’s bowling attack today.
Over the next few years Chris Hardy worked with new Club Captain Andy Page, player coach “Sid” and others to bed in a new selection policy and integrate the younger players. Excellent man management skills were used to change the culture and composition of the sides. The mindset of the senior players needed to change, and it was a difficult time of transition; every senior player being asked to switch from thinking about his personal needs to those of the club, recognising that the day would come when they would be asked to make way for an up and coming player. Every senior player was brilliant in supporting the development of the next generation of players and accepted the squad system.
After a couple of lean years in Fuller’s whilst youngsters found their feet, (although the 2nd XI under Adrian Mills – guitarist in NME acclaimed band King of Spain – did regain Division 1 status), our very own golden generation emerged.
In 2007, a fourteenth year in Fuller’s Division 2, (with only one top half finish in that time), ended with promotion for the 1st XI. It was more than coincidence that the first of what would be back to back promotions was overseen by new committee member Drew Patrick, who took over as Chairman from Chris Gudgeon the following season after his business commitments took him to Canada – he is still a big supporter from afar!
A factor in this success was Stoke’s entry into the Surrey Trust League, an Under 21 League, (with the option to field a couple of mentoring seniors), playing hard 40-over cricket on Sundays in coloured clothing. In four of the five seasons we have participated, we have qualified for a semi-final berth from the tough zonal groups.
The following season, on the 30th August 2008 the First XI secured promotion from Division 1 at the first attempt under Andy Page, and the Second XI were crowned as Fuller’s Division 1 champions under Malcolm Dickson.
Eight of the eleven players in the 1st XI side that won at Sanderstead were under the age of 21, and four of them originally joined the club as Under 10s. On that day, overseas signing Hiken Shah was not in the side, having already returned to Mumbai to compete in the Ranji Trophy. Less than twelve months earlier he was playing against Andrew Flintoff’s England Touring side. Stoke is a much a part of Hiken’s life as the rest of us, and he was on the end of the phone in the small hours back home to share in our success.
Six of the victorious 2nd XI had played more 1st XI than 2nd XI cricket the previous year. A club triple was achieved when the recently formed Ladies section won promotion from their division in the Women’s Surrey Cricket League at a canter. Five players, including captain Amy Page, would represent the full Surrey Women’s 1st XI over the next two seasons.
Cause for celebration, and the Club celebrated in style at the Oval weeks later, a room in the newly built OCS stand secured by Duncan Howorth. Duncan’s connections led to Ali Brown presenting the awards that night. Jade Dernbach, Gladstone Small, Keith Medleycott and Alec Stewart have all attended club functions; Stewart handing over our Clubmark Certificate in front of a packed clubhouse.
So a new era of league cricket began in the Surrey Championship 2009. Andy Page secured the 1st XI’s survival, and the 2nd XI under Malcolm Dickson made a great start in the new format, losing a last day promotion decider to a side that packed its 2nd XI with as many eligible 1st XI players as possible.
On a warm day in May a club T20 match was played with the two Stoke sides bolstered by former England stars Mark Alleyne, Martin Bicknell, Dean Headley and Peter Such. Page’s XII defeated Coleman’s XII in front of a huge crowd.
The undoubted highlight of this 2009 season, though, was our run to Surrey Championship T20 Final. Wins against Premiership Weybridge, cup holders Ashford, Division One East Molesey and Premiership Cobham Avorians took us to finals day at Normandy. We caused another upset but defeating Premiership bound Pyrford in the semi-final; charismatic captain Gavin Gresse making the winning hit in the last over, before a Reigate Priory side including four players who had played 1st XI cricket for Surrey, including Jason Roy, took the shield after an early scare. Reigate Priory were later crowned Surrey Premier Champions, and would make it all the way to National T20 Final screened on Sky Sports – to think “little” Stoke were three matches away from being on telly!
The girls continued to be successful, trouncing all before them to win the Surrey Trust League T20 competition. Frustratingly county call ups often robbed the side of their best players and promotion proved too big a task, although Claire Trafford registered the club’s all-time record individual score, (213 not out), participating in the club’s only recorded 300 partnership with Amy Page who hit 98, caught off the last ball of the innings, (which closed on 406 for 3 from 40 overs!), trying to complete her hundred. Not to be denied she would hit a century of her own a few matches later. Sophie Pout hit 184 not out in one match, the second highest individual score by any Stoke player.
The following season, Siddhartha Lahiri led the firsts to the brink of promotion; Matt Gottschalk led the 2nd XI to the Division 5 Championship.
A sponsors’ match was played that August. Grant Flower and Paul Prichard were in the ‘sponsors’ team that defeated the ‘club’ side; former Essex captain Prichard enjoying his time so much he accepted an offer to play for the club for the following season. The following winter former England and Surrey player Mark Butcher brought his band to Parkside School for a club dinner where fund-raising began for the new clubhouse extension.
In the winter, Lahiri stepped down to continue his work at the Academy at Parkside School, a popular source of Stoke players, male & female, and Gottschalk took over the 1st XI, achieving a 3rd placed finish, narrowly missing out on promotion. There followed a season of transition in 2012 as Handel left for Premiership cricket, and Shah was recalled mid-season by the Mumbai Cricket Association for a trial tournament in which he cracked three centuries, earning a recall to the Mumbai 1st XI and ultimately Ranji Trophy glory at the end of the season.
The transitional period saw more opportunities given to popular youngsters, and by the end of the 2013 new names appeared on 1st XI scorecards with excellent results; notably Dan Douthawite, Nico Spreeth, Dan Gluckman and Marcus Mahne; all products of Reed’s School whose skills were nurtured by former Surrey Coach Keith Medlycott. “Medders” himself has found a new home for his club cricket and now enjoys regular games on Sundays where his son Baz also puts up good numbers in Sunday Friendly and Trust League cricket.
Stoke attract players from schools other than Reed’s, notably Cranleigh, RGS Guildford, Danes Hill, Wimbledon, St.John’s Leatherhead and Howard of Effingham. Midweek nets have a competitive edge to them which reflects in great team spirit and ultimately excellent results. The 2nd XI’s promotion in 2013 would not have been achieved without the blend of exciting youth mentored by older heads.
A new venture for Women’s cricket got underway in 2011 as Stoke Molesey Ladies CC formed; Stoke winning off a number of other possible candidates to merge with East Molesey Ladies CC, again due recognition for the way we commit to develop young talent and promote the game. Amy Page captained the side and led by example, averaging 173.00 with the bat. Early signs of our commitment to grassroots cricket were seen when the girls won a number of small tournaments; but took their learning to unpredictable heights by winning the Surrey Trust League in 2013.
So the Club remains in superb health, but is also realistic that challenges to attract & retain players. Continued growth requires help from all club members, not just the Committee. We welcome all new members and offers of assistance, playing and non-playing.
“Cheer Boys, Cheer!” as the famous Victory Song goes.