Old Suttonians C.C.
We thank Desmond High and Neil Richards of the Old Suttonians, who write:

During our combined time at Sutton Valence School (early 1960s to early1970s) Cranbrook School was our closest sporting rival, with rugby, hockey, and cricket all intensely fought contests. At the time SVS was about 80% boarding with pupils from across the county and beyond but many of the day pupils amongst us knew Cranbrookians from junior school or latterly as teammates or opponents as members of local sports clubs.

The cricketers amongst us had the opportunity to continue the rivalry in the second week of every August. This coincided with festival weeks at other local clubs and we both hosted touring sides who worked their way around the cricket fields and pubs of rural Kent.

As is right and proper, the rivalry on match days started at the toss but ceased as soon as the game was over, and the sides would adjourn to The Windmill or The Queen’s or King’s Head in SV. For many years OS Cricketers would stay in the School Sanatorium for several days during the week so the socialising would continue long into the evening.

In fact the Lynxes’ very first match was at SV in 1947. The OS had started a cricket week in 1912, which was interrupted by the war years. After a series of scratch matches in 1946, 1947 saw the re-emergence of touring sides and the local clubs. The OS hosted a Cranbrook side, and with customary OS generosity not only let them win but then entertained them in the Queen’s Head. It was clearly a success and became an annual fixture until 2003, after which
Lynxes moved their week to July. The fixture renewed in 2017 to coincide with the Lynxes’ 70 th birthday celebrations, OS winning a low scoring contest. The plans have been to renew the fixture, but it has so far proved difficult for both clubs to get sides out because of clashes with other events like World Cup Finals (football and cricket).

2020 has had different challenges, of course. Remarkably, when Jeremy Barham prepared the statistics for the Lynxes’ 70 th year his records revealed that 177 Lynxes had played against OS, whereas 178 OS had played in those matches. That said, the OS have been less democratic than Lynxes and had a greater dependency on certain players. Prior to the 2017 fixture the outstanding performers for the OS had been Andrew Scott, who batted on 23
occasions and scored 1,088 runs in the fixture and Neil Richards, who took a staggering86 wickets. The best Lynxes performers have been Miles Richards with 597 runs in 13 innings and Tim Spelling with 49 wickets.

Old Boys sides are unique and differ from club sides. Although there is usually a mix of ages, the Old Boys sides have the bonds of shared educational experiences. When we first played OS cricket there were invariably some very senior pros, along with players who were near adults when you were a humble first year pupil. To find yourself playing alongside them was initially daunting but soon you realise that they are decent and sociable human beings. For us (even allowing for the six years or so between us) it was people like John Gray, Robin Hearn, Neville Harrison, Philip Goddard, Colin Hart and David Bunker in the OS Fraternity. And for the Lynxes – Andrew Bond, Dereck Penfold, Sydney (Micky) Prall, Tim Barlow, Jeremy
Barham and David Winterbottom. Latterly we regularly crossed swords with more recent Lynxes legends such as Mick Jenner, John Marshall, Tim Spelling, Hugo Youngman, James Thompson, Miles Richards, of course, and the other run machine that was Gary Marshall.

And in spite of the rivalry, we found out that they were all decent and sociable human beings too, which added spice to the matches but has made them lifelong friends. Desmond writes.“I first played in the fixture in 1973, a match which saw Miles score 56 for Lynxes and Neil taking 8-46 for the OS. Whilst there was probably always the inter school rivalry element, I’ve referred to earlier, there was the extra layer of intensity with the Richards’ family subplot. Both are exceptionally talented players but appeared to reach even greater heights in
this fixture, as the numbers above show and it was a rare match when one or other didn’t make a considerable impact. Neil later took 9-69 in 1976, the best bowling by an OS, with thenine including both of his brothers. He even got Miles out caught and bowled for 80 odd. OS will testify that Neil taking a c&b was seen about as frequently as Halley’s Comet. Despite that he wasn’t on the winning side as Lynxes, batting second, held out for the draw.

For my part, I also achieved a personal best for the OS in the Lynxes match in 1977 (7-52) and on a couple of occasions I played for Nigel Wheeler’s Scorpions side so have fond memories of the matches and the camaraderie between the sides. That was helped by John Taylor, a former pupil of both Schools, putting together a combined side to play an away fixture at Old Merchant Taylors in the mid-1980s.

Latterly, the fixtures did become attritional on occasions, sometimes not helped by indifferentwickets at both grounds. Although the SVS ground (Upper) has generally been seen as a batsman’s wicket, for a period in the 1980s it fell under the control of a groundsman, who was described as a gardener. Andrew Scott memorably described it one year, after being given a going over by a belligerent Tim Spelling, as a “minefield”. That became an OS catch phrase and used to describe every indifferent wicket since, wherever it might be.Neil recalls, initially from his early days. “John Bluett was particularly obdurate and seemed reluctant to chase runs but so difficult to get out. During evenings in the Windmill watched
on as the adults of each side enjoyed the beer and each other’s company. I believe I was present in the Windmill when the Peter West joke about “wearing plastic pants” was told.

Peter was certainly enjoying the post-match celebrations at the time. Since we did not have TV at home at the time, I knew nothing about him presenting “Come Dancing”. The ground at Cranbrook, always “a minefield”, if Tim Spelling got Andrew Scott for a low score and the SV ground a batting paradise (bar the 3 years in the 1980s we referred to above) - provided many a memorable game with neither side giving the other an inch on the field. I also recall Phil ‘Tin Peach’ Thompson scoring his 100th run for the Lynxes off my bowling
at SV. It was a big moment for him and all their team as I recall.Neil also has a mea culpa. “Sorry John Taylor, I now confess. That appeal for a catch behind
in one of your first Lynxes games v the OS at SV, which John Higgins gave not out, and prevented an OS defeat, was a wrong decision. I was later embarrassed in the pavilion soon afterwards, as dear John said to me “I know you always walk, Neil”. I felt about 2 inches high and have never forgotten the event.

He also refutes the claim by Tim Spelling to this day, that he, Tim, did dispatch Neil back over the SV pavilion. An incident which is debated whenever they meet in the Warner Stand at Lord’s.
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