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  • Writer's pictureThe Hambledon Club

Guest Speaker: Dave Allen, Alan Rayment with Stephen Codling (our youngest member)

Updated: Jun 13, 2023

Due to a last minute engagement for Vic Marks to cover the 20-over game in Calcutta, Alan Rayment and Dave Allen were invited to entertain our members today.

Speakers: (from left) Dave Allen, Alan Rayment with Stephen Codling (our youngest member)


Before Grace, The President ask for a moment’s silence for two members who had passed away since our autumn meeting: Wilfrid Weld (please see the notice on our website) and Dennis Crump, who had loyally, and lovingly, supported the club over many years, along with his wife Hazel.

Our Chaplain, The Reverend David Brown, said Grace.

The President:

Douglas Miller, welcomed all members and their guests.

Apologies for Absence: John Fingleton, Peter Ryder, Michael Knox, Brian Ford, Derek Andrews, Kevin & Helen Beaumont, Robin Brodhurst, Barrington Lawes, Joseph Stansbury, Terry Johnson, Charles Wilkinson, Andrew Callender, Keith Ebdon, Roger Packham, Andrew Bruce, Mike Coeshott, Jo Kelliher, Robert Brooke, Mark Williams, Mike Gordon, Martin Davey, Julian Lawton-Smith, Chris de Mellow, Steve Toogood, Roy Birch, David Buckland and Dick Orders.

John Barclay was confirmed as our next speaker in the autumn. Members were reminded to put their place names in the containers provided for the prize draw.

The Treasurer:

1. Members were asked for outstanding subscriptions be paid by cash today; future subscriptions by SO only. See the Secretary for membership forms.

2. Ties are available at a cost of £15.

Draw in support of Hambledon Youth Cricket: Won by (Mike Coeshott), and raised £325. After admin deductions including speaker’s expenses, (tbc) was raised for Youth Cricket.

The Secretary:

1. Although membership is near to capacity, a waiting list will be put in place once we reach 100 members. 2. Dennis Crump’s funeral details were available upon request.

President Announcement: Sadly, the President told our members that this would be his last year in post as club president even though he had been cajoled by the committee not to stand down; not only because of his wit, charm and integrity, but because of the tremendous effort he has expended on the club’s behalf to engage outstanding speakers for our entertainment. Members now have a year to consider and elect the next club president.

Committee Elections: All committee officers were voted in unanimously: Stephen Saunders, the Treasurer – 1st Douglas Miller, 2nd John White Lou Allen, the Secretary – 1st Roy Birch, 2nd Jo Coulson Dick Orders, the Steward – 1st Dave Allen, 2nd Andrew Renshaw Douglas Miller, the President – 1st Stephen Saunders, 2nd Alastair Lack

The Toasts: The President asked members to be upstanding for our traditional Toasts:

The King; The Queen’s Mother; Hambledon Club; Cricket; The immortal memory of Madge; The President: (Dave Allen asked members to toast the President).

(The president observed these were given out in the wrong order, which probably reflected why he’s not fit for office!)

Cage Cricket: Dave Allen presented Terry Crump, Cage4A director, with a cheque for £1000 in support of Portsmouth Football Club from the proceeds of his new book, Forever Changes: Living with English Cricket.

The Speakers: The President welcomed to the floor Dave Allen and Alan Rayment. Due to a last minute engagement for Vic Marks to cover the 20-over game in Calcutta, Alan and Dave were invited to entertain our members today.

Dave Allen introduced this ‘opening partnership’ with the launch of his book Forever Changes, a chronicle of all the alterations to the English and international game since he first watched county cricket in 1959. Among the key changes he identified were the introduction of limited-overs competitions and then T20 cricket, the covering of pitches, two divisions in the Championship and floodlit matches with white balls and coloured clothing. But he also described the apparently constant tinkering with the structure and laws of the professional game, which with its frequency, sometimes bewilders even the most loyal of supporters.

He acknowledged that some of the many changes had been beneficial, particularly in bringing more money into the game, but he expressed concerns for the longer forms of the two innings first-class game and also in particular, how cricket is no longer firmly enmeshed in English (& Welsh) culture – particularly in the inner-cities. This is the other thread of Forever Changes in which Dave considered representations of cricket, especially in fiction with a broader theme. He cited examples from Dickens alongside Hitchcock’s film The Lady Vanishes and the novel/feature film the Go-Between. There are similar examples from television including Fred Trueman’s appearance in an episode of Dad’s Army and more recently, the cricket matches from Downton Abbey and Indian Summers. Dave suggested, however, that even in recent productions, it is almost always referring to a (mythical?) past. Cricket is rarely represented in contemporary fiction, which might signify its dwindling significance among the mass of the population. Dave’s book had a dedication to a young man, Spencer, who attended the lunch with his mum and dad and siblings, and there was a nice moment when he was presented with a Hambledon Club tie. Dave then introduced Alan Rayment, a Hampshire batsman of (predominantly) the 1950s when there were very few significant changes in the game, was also an experienced coach, and the author of an autobiography (Punchy). Alan wore his Hampshire capped players’ tie in memory of all the cricketers he played with and in fond memory of cricket in the 1950s and in particular “the spirit” in which they played back then – a happy time. Alan began by recalling a game at Southgate in 1946 when he played with DCS Compton, Patsy Hendren (his “original hero”) and other eminent men. Batting with Denis he wondered whether he might “run him out” so that he could also bat with Patsy but in the end the pair remained not out at tea! Shortly after Alan went into the RAF where he played quite a bit of cricket. Alan, living opposite a cricket ground in north London, and about the same age as Spencer, made a decision that he “must play cricket every day of his life” which he did for a while. Alan played a little for Middlesex 2nd XI and impressed in a match against Hampshire after which he came south. He recalled with great fondness Neil McCorkell, Gerry Hill, Desmond Eagar, Arthur Holt, the wonderful coach, and towards the end of his career, Harry Altham and Cecil Paris who supported him in the difficult years when that career came to an end after the 1958 season. He praised too Leo Harrison, and his saying “the game’s not what it was and never is” – suggesting it might have been a subtitle for Dave’s book! He complimented Forever Changes and recommended it as one of a trio alongside the film Death of a Gentleman and Stephen Chalke’s, Summer’s Crown. Alan took up the theme of changes, observing that we all experience key transitions in our lives. He described his six professional occupations, ten other jobs, two years at college when 40, and two at university when 50. With his parents he had lived in four properties and since then in 30 more, although he is now settled near the coast in the New Forest. He described acquiring a set of core values, thanks to caring parents, growing up in a lower middle class area of Finchley, going to Grammar School, living opposite the cricket ground which stood him in good stead through his life. After the war came the RAF, county cricket, and also teaching dancing with his wife – all part of what he described as a busy and interesting life. As a cricketer he earned £500 per year but dance teaching brought three times that much, enabling him to survive with a wife and three children while drawing on those “ingrained values and ethics”. These offered stability but also, they have made it harder for him to adjust to cricket in the post-Packer years and he told us he has no fondness for coloured clothing, commercial logos or the noise around T20, which obstructs the delights of conversation. But he added, what “really sickens me” is the “disease of sledging”. He described a couple of ‘encounters’ in his career, with Godfrey Evans and Fred Trueman, but he described that as “friendly” and “combative” not disrespectful, as modern sledging seems to be. On a more positive note, he was pleased with the size of crowds who watch some modern cricket and praised Rod Bransgrove “and his team” having built and equipped the Ageas Bowl for Spencer and his generation. On the theme of change he suggested that change has its own “balance sheet” and predicted that the county championship would be finished within six years. He described dancing to the great dance bands led by such as Joe Loss and offered an amusing tale at the May Ball at Southampton University when he and his wife/partner had had a disagreement in the foxtrot so that during the tango they performed with some ‘passion’, until he dropped her! He told too the tale of a game at Taunton when on the first evening they went to a ‘gig’ by Harry Gold, all wearing bow ties which was a day one tradition at Hampshire. He spoke about his first game at Cardiff, when he was surprised to be selected. Then they went to the Oval and young Derek Shackleton was omitted despite a good season to date, because “they thought he was getting a big head”, which astonished his teammates. Instead, they selected part-time and ageing bowlers but ‘Shack’ returned against Nottinghamshire at Southampton and then Taunton. They went to Taunton in a coach as few players owned cars, arrived at 10.30am and an hour later took the field. Shack’s second ball was hit by Harold Gimblett to mid-off but sadly through Alan’s hands which did not please the skipper. On the second day – during rationing of course – they were served soup at lunchtime but the helpings were modest, so “confident, cocky” Alan Rayment was allowed to approach the chef with the warning from Desmond “as long as you’re polite”. Alan approached him with some success, and was thereafter Hampshire’s Oliver Twist! On a damp day three, Gimblett was going well again and Eagar invited Alan to “have a bowl”. He paced out 14 strides and Gimblett, on 94 following his first innings century, despatched the first ball for six. Later Alan was sent to Johnny Lawrence’s school to learn to bowl leg breaks and by 1954, invited again against Warwickshire, his figures were 9.5-6-10-2. Eagar and Holt thought he might have some all-round potential so in the next game at Trent Bridge he had another bowl. Their opener John Clay was 99* and Leo signalled to bowl a googly. Clay played for the leg-break and Leo held the inside edge. Next came left-handed Freddie Stocks and another googly took the outside edge and he had two-in-two. So he was on the hat-trick with the fielders coming up and Bruce Dooland, the “best leg-spinner” Alan ever faced in next. Sadly, there was no hat trick. Playing as a capped player, for Hampshire v Australia in 1953 he lived up by the Sports Centre, and rode and pushed his bicycle and kit towards Northlands Road. Approaching the ground he engaged in conversations with the supporters - a contrast to sponsored cars and luxury coaches of today and after play he enjoyed a drink with the opposition and the members, which was the way in those sociable days. Alan concluded by recounting the first time he “addressed a group of people on the subject of cricket”. It was 1952, and the Rotary Club of Southampton invited Desmond to speak on the prospects of the season. The captain took with him Alan and Jimmy Gray, briefing them beforehand and allocating a strict ten minutes each. Jimmy spoke perfectly for ten minutes, then Desmond spoke enthusiastically about the young players, but for 17 minutes, leaving Alan just three! Alan smiled “the Finchley chuckle”, thanked the President for an excellent lunch, and praised “our esteemed captain’s speech” adding however, “he has occupied the floor longer than he usually occupies the crease and left this young uncapped player with potential, just enough time to get to the wicket take guard but not enough time to face the bowling or even get out first ball for a ‘duck’. Therefore, I retire” - at which Alan sat down, as he did, 64 years later, having entertained us!

AOB: None

Next Meeting: 25 March 2017

Newsletter 35: 2 April 2016

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