Little is known of the early ’20s, only that Leonard Reid, Herts captain for several years, joined the Club. He and Miles Brunton, both first team captains, were to see that the Club prospered.
Despite two changes of location, the club made great strides forward between the two world wars. It changed from being a modest village set-up to being one of the leading clubs in the county. Much credit for this is due to Miles Brunton (after whom the current ground is named), Leo Reid and Bob Woodbridge.
The old ground at Newberries which had been restored to use after the First World War, proved too small by then modern standards. In 1928, the club seized the opportunity of moving to a magnificent ground on the Porters Park estate.
The cricket ground had been built by Cecil Raphael in 1909 to the same dimensions as the Surrey Oval. The site is better known today as Shenley Cricket Centre. The estate had been sold to Middlesex County Council for development as a mental hospital. The council gave the club a 10 year lease of the ground at £10 per year. The ground had not been used since before the First World War and had deteriorated to little more than open pasture. However, club members set to work and amazingly it was in full use by mid-season, 1928.
Radlett’s captain, L J Reid, introduced the novelty of Sunday cricket and arranged the appearance of eminent players such as Wilfred Rhodes, Maurice Leyland and Patsy Hendren. Leo Reid, himself was prominent on the county scene and became the only Radlett player to regularly captain Hertfordshire.
Leo Reid, a free-scoring left-hand batsman, was a popular captain of Hertfordshire from 1923 to 1927; thanks to his influence, four minor counties matches were played at Radlett’s ground at Porters Park between 1929 and 1934. Other Radlett men to be honoured by the county included steady R H Baucher (ex-captain of Harrow), dashing Peter Woodbridge and R Postill, a very fast bowler who taught at Aldenham school.
Horse-drawn coaches were still the main transport in the early ’20s. Some used bicycles and would think nothing of taking their precariously balanced kit to Watford or St Albans. (John Clark remembers doing this in the 50s!)
Saturday working continued to produce problems and players had to take their togs to work, eat a sandwich on the train and then pick up the coach or wagon at the station. Pitches were still variable too. Cowpats had to be swept off the pitch at South Mymms and during the evening match at Hendon, there was a ‘bumping pitch and a blinding light’.
One of the sides to beat in the 1920s was Harpenden who had the minor counties player Titchmarsh regularly knocking up 4,000 runs a season, according to Harold Knee. And Knee it was who in the first season after the war took a hat-trick with his first three balls against St Albans ‘A’ who were skittled out for 17.
CHANGING facilities away were rarely perfect. At Leverstock, players changed in the farmyard and took tea sitting on faggots under a cherry tree. Someone asked, “Where do we play?” And a field was pointed to. Once up and down with the mower and play began. Needless to say, Radlett’s second team wicket-keeper lost a tooth that day.
At Boxmoor, teams had to change in an attic; Sid Watson had to sit down to take his shirt off. At the same ground, Reg Cooper’s brother, Doug, hit a ball to leg to see it disappear through an open top window. Seconds later it was returned – only this time through the bottom window which was shut. A bemused old lady was seen peering through the debris!
The Club used to hire covered wagons from Howard’s. Once on returning from Boxmoor, ‘Wiggle’ Lamb – always a joker – picked up the wagon’s floorboards and danced on the turning axle.
CRICKET at Newberries was always entertaining, especially If you had a habit of landing sixes on the old gate lodge at the Shenley Hill end. ‘Wiggle* Lamb, a real dancer down the wicket and a good wicket-keeper often broke a tile or two and you could guarantee that Old Brooker, the gate-house keeper, would come storming out, blue in the face and wave his fist, as yet another missile found its mark.