A BRIEF HISTORY OF CRICKET IN THE WEST WIGHT

A BRIEF HISTORY OF CRICKET IN THE WEST WIGHT By Graham Gosden.

Talking to Vic Clarke, born in Freshwater around 1916, I got some idea of the path of cricket in the West Wight, and how we have arrived at the current club, West Island C.C. and so wrote this brief history of cricket in the West Wight.

Vic was an avid player of all sports especially cricket and football.  When at School he was not only the captain but also in charge of selecting the team, and went on to captain the Island representative side.  In the winters he would play football, and he ended up being paid to play for Cowes football club.  Due to work commitments and having a job on the mainland he went on to play cricket for Cowes, before leaving the Island.

Before the war, he remembers cricket games taking place at Totland Recreation ground on a grass wicket.  One of his memories was that whilst they had stopped for tea one afternoon, the players glanced out across the wicket and could see a mound of earth rising from the ground below.  A mole in action.  From minutes taken in 1948, of a West Wight Cricket Club meeting, there is reference to an inquiry into the cost of having the moles removed from Totland Recreation ground.  They were obviously a major problem before and after the war and throughout the history of cricket in the West Wight.

Although Vic can’t remember the name of the cricket club through those years, I have been lent a book containing the minutes from West Wight Cricket Club.  Formed in 1948 they unfortunately finished in 1957. The minutes begin “That the Freshwater & Totland C.C be reformed under the name West Wight Cricket Club”.  SO before 1948 there was a Freshwater and Totland Club, that existed, but we are not sure if that was the original club that went back to before the war or quite when it was formed or indeed when it ceased to function, the history of cricket in the West Wight is not always straight-forward.

West Wight Cricket Club in 1948 was looking at various options of where they were going to call home.  They were looking into the possibility of playing at Totland Recreation ground, Mr Starke was offering a field at Brambles, Mr Ramsden of Kings Home was willing to plough up some of his land to make a wicket.  Miss Lewis of Camp Lodge also offered use of a field.  However, in August, the Club decided to set about laying a concrete Strip at Totland Rec.
Come Sept 1948, they had received an offer from The Norton Chalet Hotel, to use the grounds there.  This was accepted.  The team would play its usual fixtures there, plus on Sundays they would play a team made up from the holiday makers.  After the game, all of the players were invited to the evening meal, and encouraged to stay on for the Dance and entertainment that the Hotel put on.

Around this time, 1948, Mr Richard Hutchins, was lodging in Avenue Road, and having an interest in cricket he managed to find the cricket team and indeed played a few games.  He was an avid writer of letters to his fiancé and in them has recalled some of the games he played.
A photograph believed to have been taken around this time has been donated to me by his wife Mrs Elizabeth Hutchins.

history of cricket in the West Wight.

Mr R.Hutchins is second from the left back row, but unfortunately Vic Clarke could not identify anybody else from the photo.  It is believed that Mr Hutchins did not play any cricket after leaving the Island, and that is why it is assumed it is of West Wight C.C
Some other historical memorabilia has also survived, including two West Wight C.C caps and a large flag which was flown during home games at Stroud.

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The owner of the Hotel was very much into his cricket and there was talk about having a pavilion built, but things changed and soon the club was looking for another home again.  This time they were looking at moving to Stround playing field.

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The laying of the concrete strip, took place in September 1950, and Vic Clarke was one of the members who actually help to lay it.  On match day, the players would take out the mat from the store hut, and roll it out over the concrete and peg it down.  The mat was made of fibres what is latterly called a coconut matting.  Fibres criss-crossed which did tend to produce quite lively bounces.  Vic went onto tell me that there was a slight crack in the strip as well which made one end even more difficult.  Coupled with this the grass was quite often very long, and so it was very difficult to score many runs and boundaries.  The only way was over the top, the Arial route.  I have also been leant four scorebooks from the years 1953-56.  Whilst reading these one player stood out Mr J.Hobby, his scores were nearly always low, but every innings was always made up of fours and sixes, and not much else.  Mr Hobby was obviously somebody who liked to give the ball a good whack, and after hearing about how long the grass could be at Stroud it seems a good approach to have had.

Unfortunately West Wight Cricket Club came to an end in 1957, with a meeting held at Mr D.Stretton’s office where Mr G.Kelsey and Mr Kendrick agreed to suspend the club, and allow the sale of the clubs equipment to the Freshwater & District C.C. at a price of £30.

I have no information at all on the Freshwater and District C.C, and no idea when they ceased to exist.

West Island Cricket Club reformed in 1981, using Stroud as its home ground and the red Lion pub, as its base for meetings and after game refreshments.

*Note: in 2010 the club changed its name once again to Freshwater Cricket Club to complete the latest chapter in the history of cricket in the West Wight.

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