Hampshire in PrintMartin Chandler |
The first bulky history of Hampshire, a county formed as long ago as 1863, appeared in 1957, from the pens of the men best qualified to write it, Harry Altham, John Arlott, Desmond Eagar and Roy Webber. The next history was in the Christopher Helm series, written by Peter Wynne-Thomas and published in 1988. One more writer to have tackled the subject is David Allen, although he didn’t go all the way back, dealing with the post war years in Hampshire County Cricket Club: 1946-2006 Entertain or Perish.
Without delving into cricketing pre-history the first Hampshire cricketer to be the subject of a biography was a military man, Robert Poore, always known by his military rank of Major. Poore enjoyed one stunning English summer with the bat, 1899 and, a sportsman of many talents, he must have been a fascinating man for author Jeremy Lonsdale to research. The Army’s Grace was published in 1992.
There were a handful of matches in which Poore appeared with another remarkable amateur cricketer, Hesketh ‘Hex’ Hesketh Pritchard. A fine fast bowler Hex was another military man and also an explorer and writer. He has been the subject of two biographies, one by Eric Parker, Hesketh Pritchard, published as long ago as 1924, and a much more recent and accessible book in the ACS Lives in Cricket series by Simon Sweetman. HV Hesketh Pritchard: Amazing Stories appeared in 2012.
A more permanent mark in the record books was made by Phil Mead, who began a career that lasted for more than thirty years in 1905. A prodigious run scorer throughout his career Mead was also, in the early years, a far from negligible slow left arm bowler. He was, finally, the subject of a biography, CP Mead, by Neil Jenkinson, a book published in 1992.
A long time teammate of Mead, George Brown, was one of cricket’s most versatile performers. A class act with the bat, behind the stumps and as a fast bowler Brown, who appeared in seven Tests was a notable character and, in 2018, the subject of a self-published biography by Michael Stimpson.
Hampshire cricket breeds characters it would seem, and the next man to be considered is the former England Captain Lionel Tennyson, son of the poet Alfred Lord Tennyson, who debuted for the county in 1913. A swashbuckling batsman and captain, and in his youth rumbustious fast bowler, Tennyson wrote two autobiographies and, in 2001, was the subject of a fine biography by Alan Edwards, Regency Buck. His autobiographies were From Verse to Worse and Sticky Wickets, published in 1933 and 1950 respectively.
Between 1919 and 1923 Harry Altham played for Hampshire. A modest batsman Altham is much better known as a cricketing historian, author and administrator and was the subject of a book, The Heart of Cricket, that was published in 1967. Neither autobiography or biography the book is a collection of writings on or about Altham that was edited by Hubert Doggart. Altham was also the subject of a slim monograph that was published by EW ‘Jim’ Swanton in 1960, and he is the subject of a new book just published by Christopher Saunders and written by grandson Robin Brodhurst, The Altham-Bradman Letters.
From Altham we move on to a cricketer with a famous name, but only four county appearances, all in 1933 and with no great achievement. The Reverend GLO Jessop was the son of the Gloucestershire all-rounder of the ‘Golden Age’, and in 2020 the story of his life, Jessop’s Son, was told by David Battersby.
Jessop was the only Hampshire player who debuted between the wars who has been the subject of a book, but there were a number written about those who began their careers in the years after World War Two ended. The first was Derek Shackleton, who bowled with metronomic accuracy from 1948 to 1969. A big hearted right arm medium fast bowler Shackleton, with 2,857 wickets, lies seventh in the all time list. His biography, On The Spot by David Matthews, was published in 1998.
Alan ‘Punchy’ Rayment made his first appearance a year after Shackleton. A modest batsman but interesting character who played for Hampshire for nine summers Rayment produced a bulky autobiography, Punchy Through The Covers, in 2013. Beware though those whose only interest is cricket as the book covers only that part of Rayment’s life that takes him up to the start of his cricket career. Sadly Rayment died last year at 92 without seeing a follow up volume into print but, Stephen Chalke assisting, it is hoped that the rest of Rayment’s story, including his cricket career, will emerge later this year.
In 1961 Colin Ingleby-Mackenzie led Hampshire to their first County Championship. Ingleby-Mackenzie was an old-fashioned amateur and a flamboyant character and it is something of a surprise that he has never been the subject of a biography. There is however an autobiography, Many A Slip, appeared the year after the county lifted the title.
From 1953 to 1972 a Barbadian, Roy Marshall, was a hugely popular and successful batsman for Hampshire. An opening batsman Marshall never held back and in 1970 published an autobiography, Test Outcast.
Bernard Harrison is an interesting man, and not one most would expect to have been the subject of a biography. A fringe player for Hampshire in the late 1950s and early 1960s he featured in only fourteen First Class matches. More noted as a soccer player he played, over the same period, just over one hundred professional games, mainly for Crystal Palace, before going into teaching. Kevin Smallbone published Harrison’s story in 2001, Brushes with the Greats – The Story of a Footballer/Cricketer.
In 1966 Richard Gilliat first played for Hampshire and between 1971 and his retirement in 1978 he led the county. There is no biography of Gilliat as such, but there is a chapter on him in a book about his family, The Gilliats, written by Ian Foster and published in 2016.
The next three men to feature here were, like Marshall, born overseas, and the first two of whom both first appeared for Hampshire in 1968. The first was a seamer who played for the county for five summers. John Holder has a decent enough record as a bowler but he never played Test cricket and his greater achievement was to reach the top as an umpire. Andy Murtagh, who made his Hampshire debut the year after Holder played his last game for the county, wrote Test of Character in 2016.
In terms of legacy and achievement the other member of the ‘class of ’68’ is one of the very best batsman to have played the game. Barry Richards thrilled county crowds for a decade. There are two books that concern the life of the great man, The Barry Richards Story, that appeared in 1978, and a biography by Murtagh in 2015, Sundial in the Shade. He is also the subject of a recent monograph from Michael Sexton, The Summer of Barry, that looks at his record breaking season with South Australia in 1970/71.
Richards long time opening partner was Gordon Greenidge. The Barbados born but Berkshire raised Greenidge played in over a hundred Tests for West Indies but gets a mention here by dint of spending the best part of two decades with Hampshire. His autobiography, The Man in the Middle, appeared in 1980.
Long time Hampshire captain and now accomplished broadcaster Mark Nicholas published his autobiography in 2016. A Beautiful Game is one of the best of the genre. Of his charges three have been the subject of books, Robin Smith, Sean Udal and Hampshire’s second Marshall, Malcolm.
Smith has written two books that are essentially autobiographical in nature. The first, Quest For Number One, published in 1993, is not exactly an autobiography, but the more recent, The Judge, appeared in 2019 certainly is. It is a thought provoking and engrossing read on the subject of a man at whom life has certainly aimed a few short ones over the years.
Shaun ‘Shaggy’ Udal was an off spinner and an interesting character who, very late in his career, won four Test caps against India and Pakistan. Udal’s autobiography, My Turn To Spin, appeared in 2007, coinciding with his retirement.
Leaving, perhaps, the best until last brings me to the Barbadian fast bowler Malcolm Marshall. During his fourteen years with Hampshire, in 1987, Marshall’s autobiography, Marshall Arts, appeared. In 2000, following Marshall’s untimely death, his collaborator in that book, Pat Symes, updated and republished the book as Maco: The Malcolm Marshall Story.
Which brings the biographies almost to an end, but no bibliophile could leave the issue of Hampshire biographies without a reference to the limited edition essays that John Arlott produced for Hampshire beneficiaries, booklets that are scarce, valuable and highly collectable. They exist, in varying limitations, for Jimmy Gray, Henry Horton, Arthur Holt, Derek Shackleton, Vic Cannings, Danny Livingstone, Roy Marshall, Mervyn Burden, Neville Rogers, Leo Harrison, Peter Sainsbury and David ‘Butch’ White, as well as two very similar publications for amateurs Colin Ingleby-McKenzie and Desmond Eagar.
And finally, a year after Ingleby-Mackenzie debuted Mike Barnard from Portsmouth made his bow and was a useful batsman over fifteen summers. Barnard also played league football for his home town club for half a dozen seasons. There has not been a biography of Barnard but in 2010 his old school, Portsmouth Grammar, published a polished twenty page monograph by Dave Allen.
As far as collections of biographical sketches are concerned Hampshire followers have several choices. First is Dean Hayes’ Famous Cricketers of Hampshire, published in 1993. There is of course a Tempus 100 Greats book, put together by Neil Jenkinson, Bill Ricquier and Dave Allen in 2003. More recently Dave Allen, this time on his own, produced a comprehensive book covering all Hampshire County Cricketers, which was published in 2019.
Allen and fellow historian Alan Edwards have also produced some interesting booklets. Milestones of Hampshire Cricket came from Edwards in 1983, and he also wrote Hampshire’s First Eleven 1864 in 2015, a detailed look at the county’s first match. As recently as last year Allen wrote Simply The Best, a tribute to Kyle Abbott’s match haul of 17 for 86 against Somerset the previous September.
Which brings me to my brace of choices. They are very similar, being biographies of a couple of all-rounders and contemporaries. Jack Newman first played for Hampshire in 1906 and over all but a quarter of a century scored more than 15,000 runs and took more than 2,000 wickets without ever getting a Test cap. Scot Alex Kennedy started a year later than Newman, but went on six years longer. Kennedy’s contribution to the county’s cause was more than 16,000 runs, and approaching 2,900 wickets. His reward was a trip to South Africa in 1922/23, where he played in all five Tests.