“Hello from a hot and steamy Dubai!!!” writes Ian Wellman who has used some down-time out there to select and send in his contribution to the Greatest XI series. Ian continues…
Good luck for the coming season for all the teams at Stoke. We at Valley End follow the results closely as you know, and hope that you enjoy further promotions to follow the successes of recent years.
At Valley End we face another challenging season, to put it mildly!Both the 1s and 2s are in their respective Premier Divisions, while the 3s and 4s are looking to improve on their positions of last year where they both just missed out on promotion. All to play for…I am hoping that there are enough 5th or even 6th team matches again so that I can get a game!
So, Nick and Steve, (my cricketing sons), have been urging me to put together a team of the best ever I have played with at Stoke, but only on the condition that I did to not include myself, the reason being that they did not want the crowd to fall asleep while I was batting.
So here it is. I apologize in advance to all current Stoke players who may not know many of these players, but they form an integral part of our heritage and our history and were certainly a big influence on me in my early days of playing cricket, and NOT just on the playing field as you can probably imagine!
I have added a short “pen picture” for each player. (A team picture featuring many of these players is below.)
1. Nigel Edwards
Nigel was instrumental in taking me to the Club in that he ran the Colts in the early 1970s. Adam Jolliffe, Simon Taylor, Gordon Trapmore and I all joined at the same time from Oxshott. In addition to this, Nigel was an exceptional opening batsman, a great fielder and also covered as keeper for Dave Willis, more of whom later…
2. Adam Jolliffe
Adam and I opened the batting for Stoke for many years, (a good old right hand/left hand combination), and the only way I can describe this partnership is to remember the words of our umpire, Bert Roberts, who always referred to us as the “Butcher and the Surgeon.” I will leave you to make up your minds who was who, but let me just say that on many occasions Adam would get out first having obliterated the opposition attack, while I had bored them with my inability to hit the ball off the square. I used to “cash in” after his dismissal and owe many, many of my runs to Adam’s aggression.
3. Phil Easton
Simply the BEST Cricketer I ever had the good fortune and privilege to play with. One of many Stoke players who seemed to perform best after a “good night “ in the Stoke bar. Phil had all the strokes, was a canny off-spinner/superb seam bowler and an excellent fielder, either in the slip cordon or the outfield. A true Stoke legend. My best memory of Phil is that he “talked” me through my maiden 50 for Stoke, against Oxshott. I batted number 4, went in at about 40-2 when Oxshott’s infamous Umpire “Percy” had removed Messrs D.Willis and Farenden Snr, (from memory.) Scorecard retrieved here : http://sdacc.play-cricket.com/website/results/254320
I walked to the centre to be met by Phil who simply said : “Don’t let the ball hit your pads and leave the rest to me.” They were not his exact words, this is after all a family website, but you get the overall meaning. Suffice to say, Phil hit over 150 not out, I benefitted from this to hit 50 and we almost bowled Oxshott out with a certain P.Worsfold taking a load of wickets. Phil talked about that day until he retired. I will certainly never forget it!
4. Dave Edwards
Again, a True Legend of Stoke D’Abernon cricket. Certainly, one of the quieter members of Stoke but again an exceptional cricketer. As a batsman he was very steady, but as a bowler could bowl, and did on a regular basis, the most ridiculous in swinger to a right-handed batsman. We used to have two leg slips on many occasions, something I have never seen since! If only I had been able to catch in that position, (I fielded there for a number of seasons), he would have probably doubled his wickets for the Club!
5. Dave Willis
What to say about Mr Willis that has not already been said? Terrific batsman, the BEST keeper I have ever played with and an inspirational team mate. Dave had an amazing ability to (a) wind up opposition batsmen especially while standing up to the wicket, and (b) to bring his team mates down to earth, (especially me), when we thought we were doing well. Two quotes spring to mind : I had managed to pull off what I thought was a decent catch in the outfield only to be met by DW stating that I had an uncanny knack of turning a “sitter into a half chance” and then on one occasion when we were batting together he said to me at the end of one particularly ‘uneventful’ over: “ Welly, do you realize that their extra cover fell asleep while you were batting!” Great team mate…also a great tourist.
6. Rod Tappin
Rod was a great character and a superb all-rounder. A hard hitting batsman and medium pace bowler with a great change of pace. After one over, Dave Willis claimed that the opposition batsman was still at the crease waiting for Rod’s slower ball to reach him! Another Stoke legend, a fantastic team mate, always bringing the best out of everyone.
7. Dave Moore
Another great all-rounder, seam bowler, aggressive batsman and athletic fielder. “Nod” was again one of those characters in the dressing room who would always see the bright and funny side of things, even if we had just had a nightmare on the pitch! Dave was, from memory, one of the instigators of the legendary and notorious “Stoke Tours” to the playing fields of Sussex and Warwickshire. I certainly cannot print any more details here, except to say “what went on tour, stayed on tour.”
8. Alistair McMillan
As much as it pains me to include Ali Mac, who took over my mantle of all-time leading run scorer for Stoke, (only kidding Ali, well done again!), it was clear from the very few games I played with Ali that he was one of the most naturally gifted cricketers we had, whether with the bat, ball or in the field. Again, quite quiet but very self-assured, a lynch pin for any side, especially this one!
9. Mike Cooper
“Coops” was one of the quickest bowlers we had at the club for a period of time, together with TV, (to follow.) I heard his pace described as “raw.” I was standing at first slip for a lot of the time and would term it “frightening” – if sometimes erratic – Coops will not mind me saying that. Many wickets for the club and important runs down the orders as a left handed batsman.
10. Paul Worsfold
Another who joined Stoke at about the same time as I did. Paul and I played many, many games together for Stoke and I still could not read his googly. I swear he never actually bowled one but it was just the normal leg break which did not turn. He “twirled” away year after year, a great Club man and a part of the triumvirate that included Messrs Willis and Moore as the “comics “ on the team.
11. Tony Vandensteen
Last but by no means least, Tony was by far the BEST Bowler I played with, and one of the best in the League in my opinion. Like all fast bowlers he was “grumpy” when batsmen played and missed or scored lucky runs, and especially if a team mate mis-fielded or dropped a catch. (Quite a regular occurrence!) But all would be forgotten in the bar afterwards. Many memories of TV, but my most vivid is of one Sunday afternoon at Albury when Dave Willis “goaded” Tony by standing up to the stumps. Tony’s response was to send down the shortest, fastest delivery I had seen him bowl, the batsman ducked at the last minute and almost felled DW, much to the amusement of all team mates. Standing up to TV was not an option and this particular episode lasted all of one ball.
So there it is. Who would captain the team? Probably Dave Willis.
Who would be our Social Secretary? Although not playing, (sorry Gudge!), it can only be Chris Gudgeon – what a tourist, what a Club man, what a great person.
I make no apologies again for writing about many players who will not be known to current members at Stoke, but they are important to our history and I would also encourage any older players to put together similar XIs.
I had a lot of fun doing this, it has been very nostalgic but also made me appreciate those players even more now than I did then.
So Welly has selected a side that, (to date), has scored a combined total of 80429 runs, taken 6184 wickets, held 1824 catches in the field, effected 24 run-outs and notched 288 keeping dismissals, (226 ct, 62 st.) Many are pictured here…
Welly himself racked up 11923 runs for the Club between 1971 and 1997 : http://sdacc.play-cricket.com/website/player_stats_widget/batting_stats/814638?rule_type_id=179
Do you have a team of your own to compare with this? (It can be a Greatest World XI, a Greatest Stoke XI…or both.)
E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll include you in the debate.