Week two of the Sussex Cricket League brought silence to the Rye Cricket Salts so, whilst we await the return of cricket, here is a newspaper report from the Sussex Advertiser from 1896, when Rye travelled to play the Lord Sheffield Xl at Sheffield Park. The prose is wonderful.
At this time Lord Sheffield was president of Rye, but he was the great cricketing impresario, taking England teams to Australia, which led to Australia’s premier cricketing competition….The Sheffield Shield. At his ground at Sheffield Park, thousands would come to watch the cricketing greats, amongst them, W.G. Grace.
The image is of Rye Cricket Club in 1895, pictured in front of the pavilion, which was sited at the railway end of The Salts. We believe many of those involved in the game are pictured here.
“One might as well in the language of the Bard of Stratford endeavour to gild refined gold and paint the lily as to add one word of praise of a magnanimous manner in which the noble president of the Sussex County Cricket Club, The Earl of Sheffield has striven to foster our most manly pastime, not only in the county, but it would be scarcely an error of exaggeration to say, throughout the world.
Eloquence in silence
“There are times when there is eloquence even in silence. I am fully aware that the virtues of his Lordship have been extolled by the most gifted and distinguished literateurs and all the leading lions of the press. It would therefore ill become me to attempt an eulogy of those noble and honourable characteristics which have endeared the name of Sheffield to the heart of every lover of cricket in whatever station of life.
“My only apology for this scant is to require, in a too inadequate sense, the heartfelt feelings of gratitude entertained towards his Lordship – in the first place by the eleven which visited Sheffield Park on Saturday last, and secondly by the inhabitants of this antient town who feeling that the compliment was one in which they might share, took a lively interest in the doings of their representatives.
“It is quite true that up to the present that our team has had a run of ill luck, but this is more than counter-balanced by its undoubted successes of some previous seasons, when the Rye club has lowered the colours of some teams who had considered themselves invincibles. I shall however be much deceived if the season’s record is one which does credit to the wielders of the willow.
A very early start
“It will surprise not a few of my readers – as it certainly somewhat amused and pleased his Lordship – to hear that in order to arrive at their destination betimes, our cricketers were astir soon after three o’clock. An hour later we were hospitably entertained for breakfast by Mr G H Elvidge (The Hon Sec) whose untiring labours in connection with the match were deserving of the highest praise and Mr Councillor Hinds (The Hon Treasurer) than whom the club never boasted of a more ardent supporter.
A delightful and exhilarating drive to Hastings followed and we entrained at seven o’clock reaching Sheffield Park Station about two hours later. His Lordship’s private conveyances were awaiting our arrival, all being on the ground so intimately associated with our cricketing annals at 9.30am. Those of us who viewed the magnificent panorama for the first time were almost enchanted with the beauty of the spectacle – a perfect Elysium.
The extensive and well tended grounds were in the pink of perfection, the cascades imparting a picturesqueness to the scene rarely met with. Soon after 10 o’clock Lord Sheffield appeared on the ground, and remained until the match which he followed with the closest interest was concluded, his urbanity and bonhomie charming all those with whom his Lordship held converse whilst to all the members of the team a kindly intimation was given that the mansion and grounds would be open to their inspection.
Present day dilatory cricketers
Cricket as she is played at Sheffield Park would furnish a most instructive and useful handbook to many of our present day dilatory cricketers to whom punctuality is a watchword unknown of their vocabulary. With military like precision the bell rang at 10.30am to the minute and with the exception of 45 minute interval for Luncheon play was continued until 6.45pm. The hour fixed for the termination of the game.
Again there is only one boundary on the ground, thus obviating many elements of chance which otherwise enter into the game besides proving the staying power of the players. T.G.Sharp who was in his old and proper place of captain – having had the misfortune to lose the toss led his men to the field, the attack being opened by the Clark brothers.
After one run had been scored Alfred smartly caught and bowled Mr Blackman and 15 runs later lowered Lieut Tomkin’s stumps with a beauty. Charlwood then joined Butcher, a prolonged stand resulting, bringing on several changes of bowling. Both batsmen showed excellent form and carried the score to 109, when Charwood was stumped by Bowen who kept wicket first class style.
Worger came in, but runs continued to come freely. W.Jeffrey ultimately took the balland from one of his deliveries Worger was caught at 133. Five runs later Butcher was snapped at the wicket by Owen, after making 57 by most careful and patient play. Mr Blincowe not out 20 was the only other batsman who seemed likely to stay, the innings closing for 235.
The Grand Old Duke of York . . . .
W. Jeffrey was the most successful trundler taking five wickets for 33 runs ; J.Body 3-56 and A.Clark 2 -52 whilst Will Clark whom all regard as the best of the bunch, failed to find the stumps. On reversing positions J.Adams and W.Jeffrey emulated the journey of the famous Grand Old Duke of York, but P R Bowen was soon busy; his play gaining the praise of all of the spectators.
He undoubtedly gave the best batting display of the day, hitting freely and with confidence. His career was cut short at 50 when he was stumped by Lieut Tomkins. Only two other batsmen, Hemmings and Body 10 each, got into double figures, but the play of W E Fuller elicited the warm admiration of the opposing team.
He was at the wicket for nearly an hour, and although he only scored 5 runs his stubborn defence and correct form gave evidence, it is hoped, of better things to come. The innings closed by 117, necessitating a follow on. The second venture was opened by Igglesden and Bowen, the former adding nine to his previous praiseworthy not out innings, before he was caught by Bean in the long field.
Bowen again played admirably and he put together 39 when he was also cleverly caught low down by Bean, whose fielding was deservedly applauded. W.Jeffrey and Hemmings gave little trouble, but A.Clark played a plucky not out innings of 37, four wickets being down for 102 at the call of time.
Highest credit to the Band
The fight made by the Ryers against such a thoroughly representative team being considered one of which they need not be ashamed of. During the afternoon the band of the Newick and Chailey Industrial School was present, and considering that none of the players were over 15 years of age, they performed in a manner reflecting the highest credit upon their instruction.
The late arrival on the ground after the termination of the Sussex v Middlesex game, was the veteran Alfred Shaw, who together with Mr Blackman and others said it would give them delight to to pay a visit to old Rye during our cricket week in August, when the return match would be played.
The return journey was not accomplished until the small hours and although we would not be righteous overmuch, yet we opined the sleep of a labouring man is sweet. At least thought one of the team.
Appended in the news:
Sheffield Park: A.Blackman c&b A Clark 1 Lieutenant Tomkins b A Clark 5 C F Butcher c Bowen b W Jeffrey 67 J.Charlwood st Bowen b Body 55 F Worger c Hemmings b W.Jeffrey 57 E J Marwick b W.Jeffrey 6 E.Bailey b Body 12 W.Blincowe not out 20 J.Bean bBody 0 A P Wills b W Jeffrey 5 Colonel Dawes c Hemmings b W.Jeffrey 0 Extras 4 Total 235
Rye: P.Bowen st Tomkins b Bean 50 J.Adams b S Butcher 0 W.Jeffrey c Blackman b Bailey 1 H. Hemmings b Butcher 10 A.Clark c Dew b Miller 9 A E Fuller c Charlwood b Bailey 5 J.Body b Blackman 10 W F Clark c Charlwood b Blackman 9 T G Sharpe b Bailey 8 W I gglesden not out 8 G.Jeffrey c Worger b Bailey 5 Extras7 Total 117
Second Innings: Bowen c Bean b Bailey 39 W Jeffrey c Dewe b Bailey 0 Hemmings b Worger 6 A.Clark not out 37 Fuller not out 4 Igglesden c Bean b Bailey 8 Extras 6 Total 102 for four wickets”
Image Credits: Rye Cricket Club .