1973 – A Great Year for the 1sts

Richard Hutton, formerly Yorkshire and England, rejoined in 1973 for a second season while working as an accountant in London, and schoolteacher Steve Walford, a recent Durham University captain, arrived on the suggestion of his brother Chris, a former player. These two classy all-rounders strengthened the team considerably, and the presence of off-spinner Chris Corbett from Sevenoaks Vine was another happy coincidence. Dawson took over the captaincy.

Hutton and Walford were not available frequently enough to carry the bowling, but there was depth to the seam attack, usually led by the former Letchworth bowler Howard, accurate off a short busy run.

Taylor, now chairman and retired player, was enthusing about Radlett’s forthcoming season at the Duke of York in Harrowby Street, his Marylebone local, and the landlord said he would buy the entire team a foreign holiday if they won every match. As this would be virtually impossible, he assumed he was on safe ground, but when Radlett started the 1973 season with victory after victory, he began to get worried and Taylor’s smile grew wider. After rare successes over Hampstead and Stanmore, the winning sequence rose to 13 straight games before rivals St Albans ended the fun at Clarence Park with a three-wicket victory in the final minutes.

The whole 1973 record was 23 wins, eight draws and nine defeats, which should have been much better as only four of the last 17 games were won. The final league placing was fourth, which reflected the strength of fixture lists of other clubs more than results. Old Finchleians, the eventual champions with weaker fixtures, were beaten by five wickets, and the points system seemed inequitable.

Bowling relied almost entirely on seam, besides the off-spin of Chris Corbett. Mike Dexter, Randall and Dawson all hit hundreds among the first team’s 23 wins; they only lost nine. Richard Hutton and all-rounder Steve Walford followed Dawson in the batting averages; Pat Howard topped the bowling.

But success on the field meant ‘suffering’ afterwards. The morning after a match at Cockfosters and subsequent revelry, one Radlett player was found sleeping against a lamp-post outside another player’s house, and next to a car then occupied by that other player — his engine was still running.