PORTERS PARK cricket ground lies 100 yards up on the left of the drive leading from the bottom Shenley Hill entrance to Shenley Hospital. But in the days of its creator, Cecil Raphael, Porters Park attracted some of the best professional cricketers in the land.
You had to be a good cricketer to work for Raphael who employed the likes of Radlett heroes Grubb, Montgomery and Dumbelton before World War One. Raphael, a real fanatic, built the ground around 1909 on the lines of the Oval. It was one of the finest private grounds in the country and woe betide any side which began a game before Raphael arrived to watch. It had a huge pitch requiring a 90-yard throw from the boundary and was equipped with a superb pavilion still used today.
Eventually Raphael left the district and sold up to Middlesex County Council. Radlett moved in fast, as Newberries had become too small to entertain modern club sides, and negotiated a lease for several years at an annual rent of £10. Accommodation at Newberries had always been limited with teas served in the open air. Sadly the old thatched pavilion was promptly demolished by the ground’s owner without a ‘groat’ to the Club in compensation.
During the winter, club die-hards worked hard on the Porters Park ground which had not been played on since 1914, after which cattle had been given free rein. By mid season the table and outfield were in ‘perfect nick’. With a splendid ground, fixtures were increased and strengthened, scores generally higher and Sunday games started by Leonard Reid. And there was still not a bar in sight.
It is a pleasure to report a fine Radlett win over our old local rivals St Albans at Clarence Park by 68 runs in the first match of the season. The seconds played Radlett’s first game at home, where Wallace ‘Wiggle’ Lamb (25)—one of the village’s two fishmonger brothers — and Goodyear (31) helped Radlett to 101 all out before St Albans II’s scraped home by three wickets off the third ball of the last over.
Top class players again started appearing at Porters Park including the England and Middlesex player E. H. ‘Patsy’ Hendren who scored over 1,000 in each of 26 first-class seasons. His first recorded game for Radlett was on Whit Sunday in 1928 against the Googlies, a nomadic side comprising mainly well-known players. Hendren scored a perfect 50 well supported by Reid (46) although the rest of the side made only 38 in reply to the Googlies’ 182.
Later that year, Reid and Hendren played against each other, Reid’s side making 261 -9 and Hendren’s team packed with young professionals replying with 266-7 and a win.