1939 – War Looms

War clouds were spreading rapidly across Britain in 1939, but for Radlett Cricket Club the season began an upsurge in fortunes which was to make it one of the strongest Clubs in Hertfordshire in the ’50s and ’60s.

Leslie King – future first team captain from 1950-63 – started playing and proved one of the Club’s best ever all-rounders. In his second game he scored 83 and look 5-33 against Mill Hill with his seamers, and later took 7-30 v. Harpenden, who totalled 65 to Radlett’s 58, 7-47 v. RAF Uxbridge, and hit 60 v. Old Blues.

He topped the bowling and followed Peter Woodbridge in the batting averages; but he was not the only successful bowler. Fred Green took 9-1 for the seconds against Old Albanians “and put the remaining batsman out of action”. Chas. Burton became a regular first-teamer, often sharing the new ball with Tom Down when King was absent in 1939.

Freddie Taylor, a fine gully field and currently the Club’s president for the past 25 years (in 1984), also joined. Mostly playing in the seconds he unfortunately had his first team debut at Cobden Hill in a debacle v. Hemel Hempstead, who rattled up 230-3 dec v. Radlett 57 all out. “I used to play better away,” he says wryly.


1938 – Golby Strikes Ton on Opening Weekend at Cobden Hill

A new untested ground, an unpaid-for pavilion, and a fresh war in the offing – these were the prospects, great and grim, facing Radlett Cricket Club on April 23, 1938, when the new pavilion was finally opened.

A simple structure made of red cedar wood and built on brick stilts, it was first reached by steps leading from just off the boundary to a verandah, two dressing rooms and a tea-room. There was no separate score-box then, just an enclosed ‘box’ in the pavilion, equipped with ‘tins’ – numbers on tin squares – and a huge wooden flap which was opened up during play. Tools and equipment were kept in a garage built in to the pavilion next to the kitchen and – at last – a bar.

Many months of hard slog on the ground, which was a ploughed field when purchased, led to the opening game on Saturday, May 30, only to see St. Albans soundly beat Radlett’s second team. The firsts fared no better at Clarence Park. But Ivor Golby – quickly in on the act – struck the club’s first ton (127 not out) at Cobden Hill next day in a drawn game against Mill Hill seconds.


1937 – The End of the Porters Park Tenure

Fortunes changed in 1937 when Bob Woodbridge took over as first team skipper. A fine all-rounder himself and a barrister by profession, Woodbridge led Radlett to 10 wins out of 21 played, its final season at Porter’s Park, including the Club’s first victory over Harpenden in 18 years. His son Peter topped the batting, blasting 106 and 119 against Stanmore and R.A.F. Henlow.

Well-known faces of more recent history began appearing at the Club for the first time. Golby was joined by Bryan Thompson who in his first team debut was not in long enough to live up to his later nickname, ‘Thumper’. Social events were still rare — just two dressing rooms and a long room — and no bar, though Club dinners were an annual event at the Red Lion Hotel. Ernie Hussey was the official first team scorer for 14 years until 1938. The Club gave him an inscribed watch, he was so neat.

But Radlett’s lease was rapidly running out at Porters, which the Shenley Hospital authorities wanted to start using for their own staff teams. And so to the end of another era, Porters Park had a special charm all of its own.


1935 – Something of a Run Famine

Runs were difficult to come by. The first team only scored 2,576 runs against their opponents’ 2,792 from 20 games. Even so players did go berserk occasionally. In a second team game against St. Columba’s, E. C. W. Tuke did a ‘Botham’: he hit 127 in 70 minutes and his second 50 came in 13 minutes.


1934 – New High Score

A total of 588 runs were scored in a day at Porters Park when RAF Henlow were the visitors in June 1934. Radlett declared at 347 for five after three hours, the highest score in the club’s history. Henlow fell short of this exceptionally untempting target, making 241 for eight by the close, consuming 54 overs to Radlett’s 52.4.

Philip Hill (113) and Peter Woodbridge (84) led the Radlett run spree, and Henlow’s most successful bowler was Aircraftsman Furber, whose figures were 23-2-142-3.

P. C. Hill, b Rich 113
R. A. P. Woodbridge, b Furber 84
J. G. Bland, c Robbins, b Furber 54
T. Down, not out 25
R. St. B. Emmett, c Keary, b Furber 5
M. J. Venning, b Clifford 40
Extras 26
Total (5 wkts dec) 347
Fall of wickets: 1-135, 2-238, 3-274, 4-280, 5-347.
Did not bat: R. Woodbridge, H. W. Williams, M. Brunton, H. Gillam, L. W. Inkpen.

RAF HENLOW: 241-8.

Match drawn.

R. P. Nelson, who was playing county cricket with Middlesex at the time, smashed 152 not out for Harpenden at Porter’s Park. The declaration came at 266-1; Radlett 112-7. draw.


1933 – A Season of Runs

The 1933 season saw the start of a run spree the Club has never known since. In another hot summer Radlett notched up six wins, eight losses and nine draws with a huge number of runs. The first team scored 3,891 runs against their opponents’ 4,296 from 23 games. Leslie Hosier, who topped the batting averages at 34.61, really found his form against West Herts hitting 97 in a two-wicket win, 91 against Aldenham School and 107 against Chorleywood. That year Cyril Pittman (105) and Arthur Grubb (111) notched up the only pair of hundreds in one innings the Club has ever known in a total of 281 -5 dec. against Hemel Hempstead, who were thrashed out of sight.

But despite nine scores over 200, only six first team games were won that year. There was just one official win in 1934, and Ivor Golby carried his bat in his opening first team match for 60, later to score his maiden Club ton against Bishop’s Stortford. That season P. C. Hill hammered R.A.F. Henlow’s bowlers for 113 in Radlett’s highest ever total of 347-5 dec.

Radlett lost their 1933 match at Bishop’s Stortford in bizarre fashion. Radlett’s last pair seemed to be playing out time comfortably, but three minutes from the close Bob Woodbridge launched a powerful drive at a half-volley and the ball struck Coyle, his batting partner, on the head. End of match, nearly the end of Coyle, who was taken to hospital.

On A pleasant Saturday afternoon at Harpenden in 1933, Radlett fielded through 69 overs while the home side amassed 301-9 declared; Radlett replied with 166-7.



1932 – Not a Good Year

One of the highlights in an otherwise abominable 1932 season with the bat was an unexpected win against Lye House owned by Jack Hall (Hall’s Distemper) at Bricket Wood. Hall’s side were all out for 48 with Radlett’s Tom Down, one of the Club’s main stock bowlers, taking 6-11 and Bob Woodbridge 4-33.

It was always a challenge to bat at Lye House, as it was customary for Hall to bring out half a pint of beer on a silver tray to be drunk at the wicket by any batsman scoring 50 and a full pint for a ton. Nothing was spared and the tables used to groan at lunchtime with full waiter service.

The records state: “So long as cricket can be played in the spirit in which Jack Hall and his friends play the game, England will not become a decadent nation nor need there be fear of such evil as communism”.


1931 – Radlett’s Yorkshire Links

Even in the ’30s Radlett had links with Yorkshire C.C. In 1931 Leonard Reid had Maurice Leyland and Wilfred Rhodes playing for him against the Googlies. Leyland was out for 19 and Rhodes for 39, while Reid stroked a superb 83 not out in 243-6 dec. The strong Googlies made a miserable 118 in reply but this was thanks largely to the Yorkshire pair.

Rhodes played at Porters again that season for former Radlett captain Cecil Clayden’s side in an annual fixture against the Old Blues. Rhodes took 7 — 90 and Clayden’s side would have won but for a dropped catch in the last over. Rhodes bowling to the last man arranged with Robert Woodbridge that he should walk backwards slowly from mid-on as Rhodes bowled until Woodbridge was fielding behind the bowler. Confident of getting his man, Rhodes bowled his last ball well up to the batsman for him to hit. Sure enough, the batsman took a dip and just managed to hit the ball straight over the bowler into Woodbridge’s perfectly placed hands — who promptly spilled it. The roar from the spectators could be heard for miles.

On such occasions, as of now, remarks in the changing room afterwards are unprintable except for Rhodes’ comment: “All I can say, gentlemen, is that much as I love cricket, thank God I don’t have to play with this side for my living!”



Thanks to the influence of Leo Reid, four minor counties matches were played at Radlett’s ground at Porters Park (picture left taken around 1931) 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.

At the end of the lease in 1937, the ground was required by Shenley hospital for the use of its own staff and the club was without a home. Miles Brunton came to the rescue by buying some land on Cobden Hill for £1,000 and letting it to the club for 99 years at a most favourable rent. A fair was held which raised £100 and enabled work to begin on a new pavilion. That rough field has now become our fine cricket ground, admired by the Australian test team when they played on it in 1993.

The early 30s were a lean period. Shortage of players had much to do with the 20 first team wins out of 99 games played — and only two wins in 1931 and in ’32. But this did not stop some players from blossoming, notably R. Postill, a master at Aldenham School, who was “the fastest bloke I’ve ever seen” according to a new recruit in 1934, 17-year-old Ivor Golby who in 1984 played his 51st season. And there were also the Woodbridges — father Bob and son Peter.

1930s Odds & Ends

Motor-cycle Hazard

IN THE 1933 match at Chorleywood, P. Kingsley scored 100 for Chorleywood, hitting several shots into the road.

Radlett’s A. L. Baucher fielding in the deep was positioned for the catch a few yards in from the road.

Sure enough, Kingsley hit a half volley out of the ground over Baucher’s head while the fielder with his eyes glued to the ball in mid-flight slowly back-tracked towards the road and failed to notice a motor-cycle parked in his way.

He was next seen disappearing head over heels over the bike with his legs in the air onto some hot tarmac. He slowly arose very much the worse for wear.