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Surrey in Print

The first major work in relation to the history of the Surrey club came just shy of sixty years after its formation in 1845. The magisterial Surrey Cricket: Its History and Associations was published in 1904. This substantial book is credited to Lord Alverstone (Club President, noted Judge and one time Attorney General) and Charles Alcock, although doubtless it was Alcock who did the bulk of the work.

The next attempt at a history was by the then well known writer Gordon Ross, whose Surrey Story was published in 1957. The volume on Surrey in the Helm series appeared in 1989 and was written by David Lemmon. Subsequently there was a 150th year celebration published in 1995, and a more ambitious and consequently more impressive volume last year to celebrate the 175th anniversary. Sandwiched between those two was the 2004 published Into the Second Century, written by Jerry Lodge.

As befits a county with such a long and illustration history there are a goodly number of biographical works on Surrey players who began their careers in the Victorian era, as many as fourteen altogether. William Caffyn and Julius Caesar both made their debuts for the county in 1849. In 1899 Caffyn’s 71 Not Out was a very early cricketing autobiography and, its author never having been the subject of a biography since, remains the definitive account of the life of a man who was a very fine all-rounder and played an important role in the development of the game in both England and Australia. Caesar, primarily a batsman, had to wait rather longer for the story of his life to be written, that task being undertaken by Geoff Amey in 2000 with Julius Caesar: The Ill-Fated Cricketer.

Like many of the top professional players of his era Heathfield Stephenson, usually known as ‘HH’, was an all rounder, being a decent batsman, fast round arm bowler and in addition he not infrequently kept wicket. He led a team to Australia in 1861/62 and later in life was coach at Uppingham School. HH Stephenson: A Cricketing Journey appeared in 2009, published by an Uppingham local history group and written by the unrelated Roy Stephenson.

Still the oldest man to make a Test debut for England (in the inaugural Test way back in 1877) James Southerton was also the first Test cricketer to die. A consistent bowler and useful batsman he first played for Surrey as long ago as 1854 and it is, perhaps, surprising that it was not until 2020 that an account of his life appeared. A Mitcham man, Southerton’s story is told by another son of Mitcham, Adrian Gault, in James Southerton: The Man of Three Counties.

Wicketkeeper Ted Pooley should have taken his place alongside Southerton in that inaugural Test match. That he didn’t is, as is fairly well known, because at the time the match was played he was in gaol in New Zealand awaiting trial in relation to what was ultimately decided by a New Zealand court not to be a confidence trick. A fine cricketer Pooley had problems with drinking and gambling and was not the only cricketer of his generation to end his life in poverty. His story was told by Keith Booth, a man who, as readers will see, we have to thank for a number of biographies on the subject of early Surrey cricketers. In 2000 Booth’s His Own Enemy: The Rise and Fall of Edward Pooley was published.

Booth is also responsible for Walter Read: A Class Act, one of the early releases in the ACS Lives in Cricket series in 2011. Read was an amateur batsman who first appeared for Surrey in 1873 and last played almost a quarter of a century later. He played 18 times for England, captaining his country twice.   

One of the shortest batsmen to have played cricket professionally Robert “Bobby” Abel first appeared for Surrey in 1881 and played 13 times for England. That fine historian whose areas of expertise stretch well beyond the game of cricket, David Kynaston, published Bobby Abel: Professional Batsman in 1982. The book was republished a quarter of a century later with the title Bobby Abel and is a genuine second edition. Unusually for professional cricketers of his time Abel had also been the subject of a book that appeared in his lifetime, Life and Reminiscences of Robert Abel in the Cricket Field, published in 1910 and authored by HV Dorey.

Amateur wicketkeeper and more than useful batsman Monty Bowden made his Surrey debut in 1883. Five years later he became and remains England’s youngest captain when he led his country in a Test match in South Africa. Staying on in South Africa after that trip Bowden was dead just three years later at the age of 26. A detailed biography of his short life, England’s Youngest Captain, was written by Jonty Winch and published in 2003.

Another Surrey and England cricketer who died young, coincidentally also in South Africa, was George Lohmann. A prodigious bowling record means that Lohmann’s name is much better known than Bowden’s. He is the subject of an extended monograph by Rick Sissons, George Lohmann: The Beau Ideal that was published in 1981, and later a full length biography by Keith Booth, George Lohmann: Pioneer Professional, appeared in 2007.

William Brockwell was another Surrey player of the late 1880s and 1890s who spent time in South Africa, although at least Brockwell lived to tell the tale. He was a batsman who, increasingly as his career went on, was also a more than useful pace bowler and he was capped seven times by England albeit his record suggests he was, perhaps, not quite up to Test standard. There is no book devoted to Brockwell but he was the subject of a lengthy essay published by historian James Coldham, initially in the Journal of the Cricket Society and later, in 1970, as a free standing private publication.

Coming into his own in the 1890s was Tom Richardson, a magnificent and prolific fast bowler noted for his speed and stamina. With more than 2,000 First Class wickets to his name at an average of not much more than 18 it is perhaps surprising that the game’s literature had to wait until 2012 for a biography of Richardson. That appeared from the pen of Keith Booth in the ACS Lives in Cricket series as Tom Richardson: A Bowler Pure and Simple.

Tom Hayward came from a famous cricketing family and was arguably the greatest professional batsman of the Golden Age, being the second man, after WG Grace , to reach the landmark of a century of centuries. 33 caps for England and almost 500 wickets with his not always easy to play right arm medium pace mean that once again it is surprising that it was not until 2018 when a biography of Hayward, together with his illustrious forebears, appeared. The Haywards was the work of Keith Booth and his late wife, Jenny.

Another Surrey cricketer who was an England captain, in each of his three Tests in South Africa in 1909/10, but whose playing abilities are such that he is seldom remembered today, is Henry Leveson-Gower. The man known as ‘Shrimp’ throughout the game penned an autobiography in 1953, Off And On The Field, and given his long service as an administrator as well as player it may well be that in the coming years a modern writer will revisit his life.

And finally amongst the Victorians we have Ernie Hayes, another relatively unfamiliar name, but a mainstay of the Surrey batting for a number of years and an occasionally useful bowler. His form was such that he did earn five Test caps over the years, although his performances in those suggest he, like Brockwell, was punching above his weight at Test level. His biographer is once again Keith Booth, whose Ernest Hayes: Brass in a Golden Age, appeared in the ACS Lives in Cricket series in 2009.

The first Surrey player from the 20th century who qualifies for mention here is the long serving wicketkeeper Herbert Strudwick, whose career began in 1902 and lasted for the next quarter of a century. His autobiography, appropriately titled 25 Years Behind The Stumps, was published in 1926.

A fascinating character is next, Jack Crawford, who played for Surrey and England before emigrating to Australia. He later returned to England and his life never lacked incident but despite that he still managed a slow descent into anonymity. That all changed in 2015/2016 when first Michael Burns, with A Flick of the Fingers: The Chequered Life and Career of Jack Crawford, and then Keith and Jenny Booth with Rebel With A Cause: The Life and Times of Jack Crawford published full biographies.

1905 saw the start of the career of Sir Jack Hobbs , one of the greatest of all England batsman, who was in the Surrey team for almost 30 years. Even during his career Hobbs was big business and unusually for the times produced two volumes of contemporary autobiography including his career closing My Life Story in 1935, a book that was reprinted in 1981. In 1926 he had been the subject of a largely instructional book, The Perfect Batsman, to which the old Lancashire and England captain Archie MacLaren had given his name.

In later life Hobbs was the subject of three full biographies, all entitled simply Jack Hobbs, from Ronald Mason in 1960, John Arlott in 1981 and Leo Mckinstry in 2007. A book not much removed from the genre, The Test Match Career of Jack Hobbs, appeared from Clive Porter in 1988.

The career of Alan Marshall was a little bit like that of Jack Crawford in reverse. An Australian he came to England and played for Surrey for three full summers from 1907 before returning to Australia. Tragically he lost his life on active service in the Mediterranean in 1915, albeit the immediate cause of his death was typhoid rather than enemy action. He is the subject of a deeply researched monograph by Duncan Anderson in his Victims De La Guerre series of booklets.

After four summers of modest achievement with Sussex Percy Fender arrived at the Oval in 1914 and continued to play for Surrey until 1935. He was an innovative captain for a decade and a hard hitting batsman and attacking wrist spinner. Fender was responsible for writing four of the most incisive tour accounts in the literature of the game in respect of the Ashes series of 1920/21 (when he was a member of the party), 1928/29, 1930 and 1934. There was no autobiography from Fender although an essentially instructional book, An ABC of Cricket that was published in 1937 contains some autobiographical elements. To learn a great deal more about Fender the man it was necessary to wait until Richard Streeton’s biography, PGH Fender – A Biography, that was published in 1981.

In 1921 Fender was joined in the Surrey side by Douglas Jardine, rightly now lauded as one of the greatest of England captains and certainly the most controversial. Jardine never wrote an autobiography but was the subject of a fine biography by Christopher Douglas in 1984. Douglas Jardine: Spartan Cricketer had a revised edition in 2002 and certainly gave the impression of being a definitive account, but it has recently been joined by a new biography from Mark Peel, No Surrender, another excellent read.

An interesting counterpoint to Jardine is the man who succeeded him as Surrey captain, Errol Holmes. Not at all keen on Jardinian tactics Holmes, a hard hitting member of a Surrey middle order who were known as ‘The Biff Bang Boys’, played for the county for more than 30 years albeit only, after his University days finished, in four full seasons. Holmes wrote an autobiography, Flannelled Foolishness, that appeared in 1957 and is a man who would benefit from the attentions of a modern biographer.

For 20 years from 1928 Alf Gover bowled fast for Surrey and, occasionally, England, in an era when pitches at the Oval were not by any means bowler friendly. After his retirement in 1947 Gover went on to be the proprietor of a famous indoor school that assisted many players, young and old alike, to overcome technical difficulties and improve their game. Gover wrote an illuminating autobiography, The Long Run, that was published in 1991.

The period between 1952 and 1958 was one of unprecedented success for Surrey, as they won the County Championship in each of those seven summers, a record that has never been approached either before or since. No less than eight men involved in those triumphs have been the subject of books, and indeed so has John Edrich, although his involvement in the record breaking run was limited to the final game of the 1958 summer.

One the greats of the 1950s, Alec Bedser, actually played for Surrey before the war, making two appearances in 1939. Without a wicket to show for them however there was no indication that the man who arrived back at the Oval seven years later would become one of the finest medium paced bowlers the game has seen. Bedser and, of course, twin Eric wrote two autobiographies in the 1950s, Our Cricket Story in 1951 and Following On three years later. In 1986 Alec wrote Twin Ambitions and the, to date, only biography, The Bedsers: Twinning Triumphs came from the pen of Alan Hill in 2001.

Spin twins Jim Laker and Tony Lock both embarked on their careers in 1946 and both have been the subject of a number of books. Laker’s first autobiography was Spinning Around The World in 1957, and that was followed three years later by the highly controversial Over To Me. Laker wrote a number of later books but none was autobiographical. There have been three biographies however. Laker, Portrait of a Legend by Don Mosey was the first, in 1989, and that was followed by Alan Hill’s Jim Laker in 1998 and Brian Scovell’s 19-90 in 2006.

As for Lock he also gave his name to an autobiography, For Surrey And England, which coincided with the first Laker in 1957. Subsequently there have been two biographies. The first, Put Lock On by Kirwan Ward was published in 1972, by which time Lock was an Australian, and a second and posthumous offering appeared in 2008 from Alan Hill, Tony Lock: Aggressive Master of Spin.

Two men led Surrey during their seven Championship years and the man who built the side was Stuart Surridge. There was eventually a book on Surridge, named simply Stuart Surridge. A somewhat disappointing book, it appeared in 2008 and was written by Jerry Lodge.

The team that Surridge built was inherited by Peter May, a man who some would argue is the finest of all of England’s post war batsmen. Again Alan Hill was May’s biographer, Peter May appearing in 1996. May himself had contributed an autobiography, A Game Enjoyed, in 1985. Years earlier a brief biography aimed at young people had been published by Robert Rodrigo, the title then also being a straightforward Peter May.

The man who went out to bat with the Union Jack trailing behind him, Kenny Barrington, first appeared for Surrey in 1953. One of the most popular men to have ever played for England Barrington wrote two autobiographies. The first, Running Into Hundreds, appeared in 1963 and is typical of the genre as it was in those days. The second, the 1968 Playing It Straight was certainly ahead of its time, seeking to deal with the mental stresses that so badly affected Barrington. Following his tragically early death in 1981 two further books have appeared. The first Ken Barrington: A Tribute by Brian Scovell appeared in 1982 and is just that. Mark Peel’s England Expects is much more of a conventional biography, and that one was published in 1992.

Mickey Stewart began his Surrey career in 1954 and stayed at the county for 18 years before involving himself with management roles with the county and then England. It was a long time before a book appeared, but Stewart had the very best biographer, Stephen Chalke, and Mickey Stewart and the Changing Face of Cricket was published in 2012.

Which just leaves John Edrich, whose autobiography, Runs In The Family, was written by David Frith in 1969. No other book devoted to Edrich has appeared since, although he, not unnaturally, plays a significant part Ralph Barker’s Cricketing Family Edrich, published in 1976.

Two men who first appeared for Surrey in the 1960s have been the subject of books, both are bowlers and both wrote autobiographies. Off spinner Pat Pocock called his Percy: The Perspicacious Memories of a Cricketing Man and published it in 1987, the year after his retirement. The Shoreditch Sparrow, Robin Jackman, waited rather longer, Jackers: A Life in Cricket being published in 2012.

Alec Stewart made his debut for Surrey in 1981, and retired in 2003. His autobiography, Playing For Keeps, appeared in his last season, as did that of his long time Surrey and England teammate Graham Thorpe, whose Rising From The Ashes was published in 2005. Another member of that Surrey generation was pace bowler Martin Bicknell, albeit his Test record was rather less impressive with just four Test appearances with ten years between the second and third. Bickers was published in 2008.

Which leaves just one last booklet to mention, a tribute to wicketkeeper Graham Kersey who tragically died in Australia on New Year’s Day 1997 following a road accident on Christmas Eve. Kersey was just 25. Graham Kersey: A Tribute was privately published by Surrey member Richard Williams. The 99 page booklet is essentially statistical, but there is an excellent, heartfelt memoir as well.

As far as other books on Surrey are concerned there is a Tempus 100 Greats book, and a collection of 50 Finest Matches from the same publisher. Both were written by Jerry Lodge, in 2004 and 2006 respectively. Another interesting collection of pen portraits comes in David Sawyer’s privately published Century of Surrey Stumpers. Also well worth reading in relation to less well known players is The 48, a thoroughly researched book by Philip Paine and Daniel Norcross that comprises essays on those Surrey players who lost their lives in the Great War, and whose names appear on a memorial in the long room at The Oval.

There are a number of diaries written about various seasons in Surrey’s recent history, a number of them by Trevor Jones. I am confident there is at least one of his books that I have not seen, possibly two, but those I have read are Pursuing The Dream, The Dream Fulfilled, Doubling Up With Delight and From Tragedy To Triumph, which appeared in 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2003 respectively. Jones has also contributed a slimmer book, 268, on the subject of Ally Brown’s remarkable innings against Glamorgan in the 50 overs per side C&G Trophy in 2002.

From a mainstream publisher Surrey’s 2004 summer was covered in Mark Ramprakash’s 2005 published Four More Weeks, and 2018: A Summer in Pictures is a nicely produced photographic record of a Surrey Championship victory.

Which brings me to my two selections for the future. The first has, I suspect already been largely written, and is a new biography of John Edrich. It is a project that I know David Frith has been keen to complete, and I hope that with Edrich’s passing earlier this year that, finally, he will be able to find someone willing to publish the book in the manner that he would wish.

The other is a trickier choice but, harking back to my comments about Errol Holmes, and having already raised the subject of Freddie Brown in the Northamptonshire in Print article, then a detailed look at the lives and personalities of all three of ‘The Biff Bang Boys’ would not go amiss. In addition to the forceful characters of Holmes and Brown that book would also cover the interesting life of the last of the three, solicitor Monty Garland-Wells.

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