A Season’s Fame

Published: 1991
Pages: 24
Author: Winterbottom, Derek
Publisher: Bristol Branch of the Historical Association
Rating: 4 stars

There is only one candidate for the accolade of the most famous junior house match ever played. The teams were Clarke’s House and North Town House of the famous old English public school, Clifton College in Bristol.

Cricket, very possibly more than any other field of human endeavour, has a tendency to remember its heroes by their initials. Mention the name Arthur Collins to a cricket fan and he will probably look non-plussed, but replace his given name with his initials and there will be a smile of recognition.

Towards the end of this study Derek Winterbottom speculated as to whether the record set by AEJ Collins back in 1899, when he was just 13, would survive to see its centenary. We now know it did, and that a further 16 years on his record score for all cricket, an unbeaten 628, still stands. Collins carried his bat through an innings of 836, and Clarke’s House won by an innings and 688 runs. It is often overlooked that Collins also took 11 of the North Town House wickets with his medium pace.

After such a remarkable performance it might have been expected that Collins would have made at least some further impact on the game, but he never did. A career soldier he left Clifton and joined the Royal Engineers . By 1914 he had attained the rank of Captain and was part of the British Expeditionary Force that left for France at the outbreak of the Great War. Collins was killed in action during the first Battle of Ypres. He had married just a few weeks before, and his bride was to spend more than half a century as a widow. To underline the tragedy of the times in which he lived two brothers also died during the war to end all wars.

Derek Winterbottom is a historian and former Head of that subject at Clifton. An experienced writer he has, perfectly positioned to do so, made the best possible job of reconstructing Collins’ innings and filling in the details of the rest of his life. A Season’s Fame is a well written, splendidly illustrated and authoritative account of one of cricket’s legendary games. The booklet is not too easy to find, but worth a bit of effort as ultimately it is neither rare nor costly.

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