1959 was the first of six remarkable seasons, and a sterling start to Freddie Taylor’s presidency of the Club. The firsts won 17, drew 15 and lost 9.
A new extension to the facilities at Cobden Hill included the Club’s first showers – this might also have had something to do with the arrival of new players and a dramatic improvement in results!
The firsts beat 15 clubs in 1958 losing eight and drawing 15 – its best season up until then. That they went on to greater heights was due both to an emerging wealth of playing talent and astute captaincy.
King was an introvert but one who inspired by example. He was probably the Club’s most outstanding seam bowler, but he sometimes let others open the bowling to give them a chance.
From 1958-64 Radlett had five Herts county cricketers – Colby. Dexter, King, Blackburn and Victor Wild, an all-rounder. Alan Brown joined c. 1958 and members used to come out to watch him bat in the nets, he was so good. Miles Connell could throw the ball to the keeper on the full from anywhere on the boundary (meaning the hedge).
Stan King who shared the new ball with Leslie King took 100 wickets twice in that period. Says John Clark: “He used to stand upside down in the pavilion, drink a half pint of beer, and talk while he burped!” Brian Standring was another Phillips signing who carried on the long tradition of first-rate Radlett keepers.
The transformation in the seconds was embarrassing – so weak in the early ’50s and so strong five years later.
A young Mike Dexter, son of Chris, began scoring prolifically for Radlett while still at school. He and school-mate Robin Johns – who later went on to play first class cricket – put on an hour-long partnership in an amazing game v. Mill Hill in 1958; Dexter scored 16 out of 21 all out, Johns 0 not out. In the interval the confident Mill Hill captain suggested a ‘beer match’ – limited overs game – afterwards. But Michael Robertson, another new recruit, opened the attack for Radlett with Ken Smith, and between them dismissed Mill Hill (though down to nine men) for 19.
Ivor ‘Ivories’ Golby and Chris Smith began their sing-song evenings in the ’60s – Golby on the piano, Smith on the trombone. Visitors ‘hacked’ their way home late at night with no fear of the breathalyser. Bar profits soared.
Selectors really felt the pinch in 1955 both in lack of players and transport. In a second team Sunday fixture at Southgate, Phillips had to transport a whole eleven – they had been four short in the morning – plus umpire and scorer in his car and on new player John Curry’s motor-bike to Southgate and back.
But a ‘five-mile rule’ which allowed anyone living within a five-mile radius of Radlett to play for the Club was introduced in 1955 and was to have dramatic results in the late ’50s.
There is little documentation on the first half of the 50s. In 1950 Leslie King became first team skipper and in 1951 John Cutts became captain of the seconds. There were then no club records of any second team matches until 1957.
In 1954 crisis hit the Club when marriages, retirements and removals led to a dearth of players.
John ‘Clarky’ Clark was Ian Phillips’ first ‘signing’ as match secretary, and became the second team’s most consistent scorer.
John Newton, previously the ‘tin’ boy – scorer’s help – made the transition to batting in 1954.
Jim Shields came from Luton in 1954 and played one season and then became an umpire.
The years 1950-63 were Leslie King’s as first team skipper. John Cutts captained the seconds from 1951-59, taking over from E. W. ‘Hutch’ Hutchings, who was promoted to first team vice-captain.
‘Hutch’ was the Club’s raconteur and leg-spinner. In his late forties he would wear shin pads to field as bending was a problem. And he was always immaculately dressed. Blazers were quite the fashion and players used to “dress” to go up to the Clubhouse.
His successor, Cutts, took his responsibility for match teas very seriously and often used to disappear at 4.30 pm. to check they were being made. If he did not return, he was making them.
The early ‘fifties recorded many draws and few losses (just three in 1953 out of 32 played).
Radlett’s bar, a large hatch in those days, was run single-handed by Evo Sanger from 6 p.m. until the last customer left on match days. She was a small woman and her head came just above the bar top. Musical accompaniments were provided by her husband Ronnie, vice-captain of the seconds and a dab hand at a rugby song.