Excerpts from A Review of the 1978 Season
(We are grateful to Albert Chapman's widow who found this interesting old document and sent it to Roy Storey.)
Our biggest hope for next season is in the emergence of new players of real value and the improvement of existing ones.
This immediately brings to mind David Brook. Considering that the first eight matches on the fixture card provided him with only 18 runs, Brooksy had a superb season. His 1,263 runs shattered the club record and produced an average of 34, whilst his bowling too was useful. Sometimes very fast and occasionally straight, he can look forward to providing real value in this department next year after a winter's coaching during which he has promised everyone that he will be working to improve his action. Dave's fielding too was an example to us all as he covered the offside like an overweight greyhound and earned the top spot in the catching table whilst gaining the remarkable distinction of running out a one legged batsman at Orpington. Yes, he's made a great contribution scoring two centuries, one of which broke the Club's records for the fastest time and also the highest ever score and he added a further record by accumulating 8 half centuries. Given another year or so he will probably have smashed every record previously held by Graham Bruce, whereas last year the only record that seemed in danger to him was Paul Biddlecombe's.
We must also thank Dave for introducing Chris Biggs to the club. He is a player who will be of great value to us as a batsman and an understudy wicket-keeper to Albert Chapman who, rumour has it, is likely to be retiring from the game around the turn of the century.
Talking of Albert; what a great season he had with 28 victims including 11 stumpings (at least one off Alan Stewart) plus 412 runs at an average of over 20. Unfortunately his heading was not so much in evidence this year, although Richard Pryke did his best to help him recapture his old form down at darkest Hutton.
As it was, Roy Storey took up the mantle when, at Old Ilfordians ground, he positioned himself nicely under one of Tony Smith's moon shots. All seemed well for a time but the missile was obviously subjected to a little turbulence during its re-entry to the earth's atmosphere and avoiding the cupped hands below, plummeted directly upon Roy's unsuspecting cranium. However, the pain suffered was only equal to the writer's embarrassment when a few moments later a similar one went up and would probably have been caught but for a slight misjudgement of around 8'4".
Thinking of power batting reminds me of Dave Sewell's marvellous attack upon the West Essex bowling in an early league fixture. Sewell, who spent most ot the season concentrating on getting out in a progressively more hideous manner, finally came good, thanks to his carefully practiced technique of shutting his bloodshot eyes, opening his sturdy little legs and lustily propelling each good length ball in the general direction of either the Milky Way or the Plough - the latter being his favourite due to it's rural connotation. Anyway, it all worked very well for an hour or so at West Essex during which time "Super" accumulated 97 and nearly won us a memorable game.
I'm fed up with reporting on Graham Jones's verbal contribution. Perhaps it will suffice if I mention how nicely dressed he always is.
Roger Hardaker joined us this year and was of great value scoring nearly 500 runs in only 19 innings. Roger, by the way, is a left-handed number 3 who comes from Yorkshire and has no bat. However, despite these three distinct disadvantages he put together some fine scores and was largely responsible for our first league win at Wickford. Both he and his wife Val love cricket and we look forward to seeing them again next season.
At this stage of the report I am filled with guilt for not having given more space and comment on Graham Jones - still, perhaps I can overcome it.
Dave Anderson had his best season for Shenfield scoring many runs in his fluent, elegant manner whilst his fielding was as sharp as ever and his bowling extremely average. Unfortunately he did not begin playing until the football season finished - finished when the football season started - and went away on holiday some time in the middle without so much as a chorus of the "Black Velvet Band".
Mike Wright is still without a "Cock" by the way, although consideration was given to him being awarded one for his wicket at Fives and Heronians. His viciously spinning delivery proved too much for a batsman more used to conventional bowling and the ball was lofted to square leg where Big Al, although emotionally moved at the prospect of helping his old friend take his second wicket in only a quarter of a century, held the catch with a sigh of relief - or was it some other appropriate utterance. Quite apart from this feat Michael was as valuable as ever, accumulating nearly 400 runs and cunningly disguised himself as a tailender by batting at number 8. Actually with his technique very few people have ever seen through this disguise - still somehow it works.
Chris Wright did well this season, opening the bowling in place of Peter Colegate, taking 5 wickets on three occasions and finishing up with over 50. Wickets that is, not runs for in 39 appearances he totalled precisely 39 runs which has to be some sort of record. However, to put this in perspective he spent almost the entire season at number 11, only had 7 completed innings (most of which required a last over thrash) and found the situation funny! Bearing in mind that he loves his cricket and is as competitive as anyone in the club I wonder how many others would see the joke if they had to spend their season in a similar position and before the obvious answer is uttered, I should point out that it's only four years ago that he made 450 in the season. His level of selfless clubmanship is a lesson to us all - mind you - if only to save his embarrassment - I reckon he'd gone off something awful!
Jones scored a 50 by the way, and quite a few other runs as well.
Rugg - assiduous - Gunn had an unusual season. Like many others he relies heavily on his confidence and traverses regularly between blissful exuberance and deep melancholy. His start to the year's cricket was rock bottom, but by mid-season it had worsened. However, being a public schoolboy and extra smart at that, he recognised that the answer to his problems lay in the recapture of his confidence which could in turn be regained, together with his once haughty air of the gifted and nicely brought up, if he could acquire from somewhere a material reminder of his privileged background. He thus despatched me to Sherborne School from whence I purchased, on his behalf, a cap, the like of which he had won and worn in those halcyon days of his youth, when he wouldn't have even spoken to the likes of you or I. Now bedecked by this elegant reminder of his superiority he strode jauntily to the wicket looking for all the world like a mixture of Ted Dexter and Lord Snooty and promptly got bowled for a 2. Fired by this relative success he took the field, whereupon he dropped two catches, one of which was no doubt due to his cap slipping over his eyes. But he's shrewd is Wuggers and not easily daunted as successive scores of 45, 35, 50, 16, 1 and 59 indicate. By the end of the season he was batting with the crisp elegance of his station (Harold Wood), and striking the ball with the clean freedom that is only apparent in gentleman players. Now, in an effort to retain his form in 1979, Mike is hoping to enlist the services of a fag or valet to act as permanent reminder of his dignified breeding and to clean his cap, calculate his scores, catch his bat and join his master in self applause. Big Al has offered, but has been found wanting (wanting what we're not sure), whilst Erika has been offered the position but has chosen to remain in the one which she shares with Mike Headon. Applicants will be considered.
Incidentally, Jones bowled 14 overs for 20 runs against Benfleet, but the pastoral quiet of the stalemate situation was disturbed by his shrill inter over summaries - so we took him off!
Earlier mention of Alan Stewart brings to mind our most memorable match of the year in which the Little Totham Tornado was destined to star. The event, as you will have guessed was for the Benefit of Ray East and the opposition was (barring Deness and Lever) the full Essex County side which got off to a totally expected start as Turner and Hardie put on 141 for the 1st wicket in 54 minutes. However, Phillip and Pont failed and a partnership between Gooch and McEwen thrilled the crowd of 500 and ended when Alan Stewart bowled the England opener for 52, which helped dismiss the County side for an incredible 313 in 2 ¼ hours.
In reply Shenfield openers Peter Brown and Graham Jones did well to hold out against the pace of Philip for a while and I'm sure Graham will never forget the pleasure of sharing a half-century stand with ex-England captain M.J.K. Smith, who had travelled all the way from his Warwickshire home to help make this occasion so successful. However, with the Shenfield score at 153-9 anti-climax had set in and despair wafted like smoke from a dying bonfire as we tried desperately to win some pride and respect from the inevitable defeat.
Big Al strode to the wicket!!! He cover drove the first ball for 4 and having shared a number of singles with Albert who stood as dependably firm as ever at the other end, he smote Brian Hardie for five sixes in the space of nine balls before going the way of all heroes - stumped - with 50 runs to his credit.
The half century was timed at 16 minutes which cut by half the existing club record. Only when you consider Al's usual smart walking pace, do you realise that most of that 16 minutes was spent just getting himself out to the wicket.
Graham Gooch went from strength to strength following this match and was eventually chosen for England where he made many runs. Whether it was being de-castled by Big Al which tightened up his defence, or by emulating the Little Totham Terror's stroke play which helped him bring Richard Hadlee to heel one can only guess. But seriously, Alan did do very well and continued the season in similar vein, being only two short of the Club's sixes record whilst accumulating 54 wickets.
Jones fielded and caught well this year but on summer evenings his throw still doesn't carry beyond the length of his own shadow.
Mike Headon emerged in mid-season to play some splendid knocks, but the record which he will remember best is the one currently filed away at Brentwood County Court.
Of those not mentioned already, Bob Gowlett popped up now and again from his self imposed exile in the 2nd XI and proved that on his day he is still the best bowler in the club, whilst one of the few who could dispute that, Peter Myers may have faded away following an embarrassingly poor fixture at Canvey Island. Judged on that game alone, I can't say I blame him. However, with an ever improving fixture list I keep my fingers crossed that he will return.
Graham Sammons showed a lot of ability in the few games he played for us, not least versus West Essex where he held out for 80 minutes against the Griffiths brothers whilst Graham Bruce made a brief return and although not in his customary form put together one lovely innings. He's gone for a spell with Spiller's in Switzerland now. Should be no trouble finding a slope to bowl up there, Graham.
Of the youngsters, Nick Morgan, Martin Perry and Nigel Stewart all had their moments and, cricket apart, they are good club members, willing to work, help and support the club in any way they can. As to their game, well, it was encouraging to see their progress and their eagerness to improve.
That great wit Derek Wilmott has now completed his first year as Club Secretary. His cheerful encouragement of new ideas at committee meetings has kept these evenings alive with sparkling optimism. Seriously, Derek, well done. It's a difficult task and one made even more so by the knowledge that your predecessor was so much better looking!
And so to our leader, Chairman John Burrows, who retains his cool on all occasions which is surprising when considering all he has to put up with. For whether it is being dragged out on a frozen winter's morning to examine a break in, being pressured by the local constabulary to close the bar on pavilion lettings, to slag off the entire board of Courage Breweries, or to convince Alf that it must be someone else's duty to empty the chemical toilets when he is entertaining the captain of Essex in his city suit, John retains an air of unruffled calm and reflects the pensive character of a Condor smoker. Long may he reign!
On behalf of all 1st XI players I want to thank two people who have filled gaps in our team as crucial as opening batsmen (especially our opening batsmen). To the man possessing the fickle finger of fate, umpire extraordinaire, Bill (You've all let me down) Dixon, who stood in practically every match and in practically every weather, a sincere thank you from us all. And to Debbie, our heartfelt thanks for all that scoring this year.
I almost forgot to send our best wishes to those Shenfield players who have crossed the sea to spread the good name of the club to that impoverished nation down under. To Choirmaster Peter Wright (you owe me a letter, you bum), Doreen and baby, to arch rammer Ian George and Janine, and to lumberjack, ace parker and seed sower Ron (Lucky Bear Flemming and Marilyn. Our greetings too to other ex-Shenfield men from distant days, whom I hear are getting up a new Shenfield Cricket Club in Adelaide. If you could only link up with the guys in Perth you could almost get a full "old boys" team together. What a tour we could organise then!