Excerpts from A Review of the 1977 Season
(We are grateful to Albert Chapman's widow who found this interesting old document and sent it to Roy Storey.)
The Season started well enough when on a crystal clear day in mid-April we journeyed to that historic centre of cultural and academic endeavour, Cambridge University, for a match against Fitzwilliam College, kindly arranged by David Brook and his cleverer brother.
Although obviously in some awe of their hallowed surroundings, Shenfield did quite well securing an honourable draw, thanks mainly to a dashing 50 by Dave Sewell, who it should be remembered was educated at public school and lives in a big house on Hutton Mount. This, of course, is a perfect example of the values and relativity of one's character and background, and quickly brings to mind Graham Jones's 67 at Chadwell Heath.
Poor Graham, his declining form was as big a mystery to me as it was to himself. He arguably played the best innings of the year, hit some memorable shots but always got out when doing well, finishing the season with destroyed confidence and 5 ducks in this last 8 innings. However, he was the top league batsman and after all that's where it counts. I personally look forward to many a good Jones innings next year and expect to hear a great deal about them in advance.
Dave Sewell, who by not bowling so much had an improved season, was one of only three batsmen to reach 500 runs. He also had a remarkable series of thrashing knocks in the Ross 7 a side competition in which we excelled; winning 5 matches until eventually beaten in the area final by the old enemy Hutton.
David Brook can claim to be the most effective batsman of 1977, scoring over 800 runs at an average of well over 30 and all Shenfield will be delighted to know that he will be dedicating his winter in the nets to learning another stroke. Joking apart, his progress is phenomenal, his dedication exemplary, his fighting spirit an example to many and his verbal contribution equal both in wisdom and volume even to Graham Jones.
Albert Chapman impressed with his keeping as always, although I felt that his heading was the most spectacular aspect of his game this year. Whether from foot or bat Albert was equal to it, leaping to meet the ball with unerring accuracy. I know he will be thrilled to learn that he is to be presented with the medicine cabinet at the annual dinner.
Chris Wright bowled well this year and caught as brilliantly as ever, but I will always remember him best for a cold murky day in late September at Benfleet when the home side languished at 80 odd for no wicket and Chris was thundering through his 14th consecutive over having induced near misses, a multitude of unprofitable edges, plus a dropped catch (no need to own up, Sewell, the culprit shall be nameless). Poor old Chris, he tried every known ploy otherwise guaranteed to claim wickets; full tosses, wides, double bouncers, one off the wrong foot, but the entire repertoire was unsuccessful. His mounting frustration finally exploded into unprecedented fury as the unsuspecting opening bat played comfortably back to the 161st ball of the innings and remained motionless well within the sanctity of his crease. Having completed the delivery Chris followed through. Down the pitch he pounded, hair wild, eyes blazing, with an expression reminiscent of a berserk evangelist, he pounced upon the ball, now motionless at the batsman's feet and hurled it with every ounce of strength and hate he could muster, causing it to pitch and take off like a bazooka shell over the stumps, scattering a bewildered batsman, terrified slips and a horror-struck short leg. Albert tried to get a header in but the ball was eventually and bravely brought to a halt by Graham Bruce out on the fine leg boundary and the dust settled.
When the polite if rather hesitant question was asked as to what the hell he was doing he replied, with typical C. Wright logic, that he had been bowling for an hour and a half and he just wanted to see the stumps knocked over!
I think we all understood his frustration and readily forgave him as we have now become accustomed to watching Dave Brook take at least that long to get off the mark, whilst Pete Colgate has frequently taken even longer just to get back to his!
Talking of Peter, I am indeed sad to report that for business reasons he will be leaving us - again. Following six years of stalwart service he is moving to Beds or Bucks, or some equally appropriate erotic spot. Such a shame just when he seems to have got his run up sorted out! I understand that he will also be leaving his harem behind as he is about to enter the very reverent state of matrimony. This seems an excellent opportunity of recording our sincere best wishes to both he and Jane. I hope that we will be seeing them again very soon and I am confident that this talented if ageing cricketer has not yet played his last game for Shenfield.
I am sure we will all be pleased to learn that Graham Bruce has been stationed at Tilbury for all next season, with a possibility that this position may last through to the following year. I understand that his application to join the local cricket club has been rejected by an all canine committee, so we look forward to seeing him get in at least one full season at Shenfield until Spillers move him on elsewhere. Incidentally, the significance of Graham's choice of company did not occur to me until he got under a couple of high catches recently. But seriously, it will benefit the side a lot to start the season with him around. He is certainly one of our most talented cricketers and if he could only overcome his habit of treating even the most mediocre “up and downer” as he if he were Chandrasaka for the first few hours of his innings he would be of even greater value!
Mike Headon has matured this season - can anyone possibly doubt it! But I would seriously like to note congratulations on his big score this year. I am, of course, referring to his 63 not out against Old Easthamians.
That well known equal opportunity cricketer Mike Gunn failed to fulfil earlier promise as a batsman, but he will be attending winter nets during the closed season and once he gets to grips with a slightly altered technique (designed to stem the flow of blood) his natural flair will allow him to surface once again as an exciting and assiduous batsman. Incidentally Wugger's fielding has shown startling improvement and his speed and arrow-like throwing have lifted this aspect if his game to near average!
I have left Mike Wright until fairly late in the order which is exactly where he leaves himself, thereby achieving a distinctly superior average due to an unequalled number of not outs. Despite this, Michael has enjoyed a really good season, scoring over 400 runs and retaining the unique distinction of being the only Shenfield skipper to avoid upsetting our more sensitive members. Why, he's even popular at Hutton C.C.
Steve (Harpic) Moseley, so called because he's "clean round the bend" was "Bold", "Flash" and "Dazzling" with his "Ariel" shots, although frequently soft and absorbent in the field.
And so to absent friends with good wishes to Pete Wright out in Australia and to Ian George who is on his way there. Ian will be missed nearly as much as Peter. He was a good influence socially, whilst his powerful stroke play, fine catching and devastating bowling (mentioned regularly but seldom seen) will render us weaker next year. He took with him Ian Scott-Roger, whose brief appearances promised much and probably Alan Stewart who seems to have disappeared again! If only Big Al could keep his enthusiasm going that elusive 100 wickets could be his. He bowled very well this year.
I was sorry that Bob Gowlett felt that monopolising the second team with his undoubted skills was more personally satisfying than making his usual adequate contribution to the 1st XI. But people will always come and go and we have had some fine players join us this year, not least of which is Peter Myers whose wizardry earned him top spot in our bowling averages. I am delighted to report that he will be continuing with us next season.
We would also like to welcome Greg Kemp and Rob Hutchinson into our midst. These new members fit perfectly into the general character of the club. Greg, as you know, is a batsman who likes to hit the ball in the air; a little unusual when playing defensively. He is also a very good fielder and a specialist short spell bowler. Rob, on the other hand, bowls all the time but would give it all up for a couple of fifties at number four - ah, it's all so familiar. I am happy indeed to note the return of Ron Fleming to these shores. Keeping Lucky Bear for next season depends on his quest for career development through a job in law. The law, I understand, is equally anxious to make contact with Ron, but I believe this is over a different matter.
We won more matches than we lost this season, which suggests a successful year. However, as far as the league was concerned it was less than satisfactory with only two games won out of eleven and the dubious honour of holding penultimate spot in the table.