Throwback Thursday: Somerset Day Edition!
To mark Somerset Day we have put together a special Throwback Thursday which looks at some of the most memorable matches in the Club’s history that have been played all over the County.
Frome is a good place to start and is where on May 18th 1935 Harold Gimblett announced his arrival on the First Class cricket scene when he hit 123 on his debut against Essex to win the match for Somerset.
His 63 minute century was the fastest of the season and won him the Lawrence Trophy, that is still presented annually. The Bicknoller farmer’s son had grown up playing cricket for Watchet and had earned a reputation on the local circuit. Reluctantly the County bosses gave him a trial and decided after his fortnight was up that he wasn’t quite their style of player.
Gimblett was paid up and was on his way back home when one first team member cried off injured and he was drafted in at short notice. The following morning he missed the bus from Bicknoller to Bridgwater and managed to get a lift and met up with wicket-keeper Wally Luckes who was taking him to Frome.
The rest is history and marked the beginning of the man who went on to score the most First Class runs for Somerset.
Not too far away at Rowden Road in Wells, where apparently there was a lack of sight screens and a barely functioning scoreboard, Somerset played 11 matches between 1935 and 1952.
The ground became a great favourite of big hitting all rounder Arthur Wellard who played for Somerset between 1927 and 1950 and in that time scored 11,432 runs and claimed 1517 wickets.
Twice at the attractive enclosed ground Wellard smote five sixes in an over, a feat that is still talked about by the handful of those who were around at that time to witness the feat. The first occasion that Wellard hit his five sixes at Wells was in 1936 when Derbyshire’s Tom Armstrong was the unfortunate bowler to suffer. Two years later Wellard achieved the same feat against Kent, when the legendary Frank Woolley was the bowler, who retired gracefully from the attack after sending down two overs for 40 runs.
In 1969, when one-day cricket was still in its infancy, the 40 over per side Sunday afternoon John Player League competition was introduced.
Somerset took their games to a number of different venues that year and one of them was at Brislington CC ’s Ironmould Lane ground, where a young virtually unknown Australian Greg Chappell scored the first century in the competition.
Replying to Surrey’s 73 for seven the 20 year old remained unbeaten on 128, during which he shared an unbroken partnership of 170 with Roy Virgin, who made an unbeaten 42, to help Somerset notch up their first victory that season in the JPL.
Just a few weeks later Johnson Park in Yeovil, where Somerset played 12 First Class matches between 1951 and 1967 and two limited over games, Brian Langford made John Player League history when he bowled his allocated eight overs without conceding a run- a feat that is unlikely ever to be equalled.
After winning the toss Somerset bowled their visitors out for 126, Chappell taking three for 34, and reached their target off the first ball of the last over. Spare a thought for Essex batsman Doug Insole who came out of retirement to play in this game. He travelled down from Essex the day before and had to sit on his suitcase on the packed holiday train. He got a duck and on the return train journey sat on a seat where a child had just wet himself!
Sadly the noble city of Bath no longer hosts First Class cricket, but in 1977 it was there that Somerset triumphed over the mighty Australians for the first ever time.
Batting first Australia were all out for 232, Burgess taking five for 25 while debutant Joel Garner claimed four for 66, in reply to which the hosts made 340 for five declared of which Brian Rose hit 110, Ian Botham 59 and Phil Slocombe 55. Second time around the tourists were bowled out for 289, Botham taking four for 98, leaving Somerset needing 182 for victory, which they reached for the loss of three wickets thanks to Viv Richards, who made 53, and an unbeaten 39 from Botham.
At Clarence Park in Weston-super-Mare there is sadly cricket no more, but between 1914 and 1996 Somerset played 188 First Class matches and 22 limited over matches.
There was never any shortage of spectators at Clarence Park, where local supporters were swollen by a large number of holiday makers who took their holidays to coincide with the late summer festival. It is also the ground where Somerset would often give their younger players a taste of first team cricket.
The record crowd at Clarence Park was in 1947 when over 6000 people packed into the ground to watch Somerset beat Hampshire in the County Championship by nine wickets.
During that game both Horace Hazell and Johnny Lawrence claimed six wickets apiece, while Micky Walford scored 264, one of six times that the Sherborne School teacher passed three figures at Clarence Park!
The First Class game is no more at any of the grounds mentioned in this article, along with several others within the county boundary, but memories still abound of when Somerset brought Cricket to Town!Back to News