Jeremy Barham (Crowden 1960)
I have come to realise that I have enjoyed Lynxes cricket for all but 10 years of the club’s existence – as a player, as an administrator and now as an enthusiastic on-looker. I probably have more memories than most Lynxes players and it will be difficult to summarise them.My involvement goes back to the summer of 1957 when I made my debut against our arch rivals, the Old Suttonians, on Big Side in the middle of August. I was in the company of Guy Shearburn, Dick Nye, Jack Edwards and Andrew Bond – surely all to be in the Lynxes Hall of Fame – and I met with several founder members. My contribution with the bat ended when I was stumped by Evans (not Godfrey) off the bowling of the O.S. legend “Tubby” Craven for 20. Fortunately I had enjoyed a good season in the School XI and managed to take 3 wickets with off-spin as their last wicket pair hung on for a draw, although they were still 80 runs behind the Lynxes total. The following day brought more success with an 8 wicket haul against Geoffrey Smith’s Quorum – it remained my personal best performance for the club.I can picture now the old traditional wooden pavilion (to be replaced some 6 years later by the Evans Pavilion); at its side the old flagpole, sporting the Lynxes flag (designed by Robert Overy , art master and cricket enthusiast); the huge, black scoreboard at the “Windmill end” (with “Joe’s” car in its usual place nearby); the green benches dotted around the painted boundary line; the unbelievably heavy sight screens. All these were symbols of traditional cricket played to a good standard on a sound wicket and a much cared for outfield. I had three more summer terms at school enjoying these surroundings and in August each year I then played with many O.C.s returning to the school out of affection for Alma Mater and the opportunity to meet up again with their contemporaries. Some were established club players, others came for the banter. Several stayed for “The Week” in Crowden House. The matches, usually against other Old Boys clubs were relaxed but competitive. I remember fondly the gentle stroll across to the Windmill pub for the extended lunch break. Did we all wear blazers? A pint of bitter and then upstairs for ham and salad – probably with strawberries to follow. And after the match the bar would be full with both teams sharing their love of the game and quite substantial amounts of Kentish ale.As the club’s first President, “Joe” ensured everything was administered “properly”. Fixture cards were printed, invitations to play were issued to those who had previously declared their availability, annual subscriptions were paid and the Committee debated at length the merits of candidates for election to the Club. With “Joe” in the Chair, the A.G.M. was held with almost solemn formality, although most motions were passed on the basis of “Nem con”.I was taken in and swept along – by the cricket and the post match socialising. In 1964 I was asked to join the Committee. In 1968 I was elected Chairman and over the next 20 or so years worked with a sequence of hardworking Secretaries (the late David Winterbottom, Mike Jenner and Jeremy Philpot) to keep the club active. Over time, attendance in the week became more varied and the fixture list had to be tweaked as Old Boys clubs around the country began to falter. The ethos of the club was unchanged but already it was clear that much depended on the strength of the school cricket, the attitude of the master in charge and the influence he had on each successive cohort of leavers. In the 1970s the Headmaster, the late Peter Rowe, and several other members of the school staff played regularly, which was a huge bonus. As Chairmen through the 1990s and onwards, Messrs. Taylor (John), Youngman (Hugo) and Spelling (Tim) did huge amounts of work to keep the club alive and active.When “Joe” died in 1979 Peter West became President of the club, handing over to me after about 20 years. Gary Marshall took on the rôle in 2015 supported by a number of keen young players. Their task is harder but the aims are the same: to bring together O.C.s of all ages (especially recent leavers) to enjoy cricket in familiar and friendly surroundings and at a reasonable cost. In a total of nearly 500 there have been so many great matches played since 1947. A match such as when Bluemantles (311 for 3 declared) beat the Lynxes (299) in 1963 or when the Lynxes (283 for 3) overhauled the Fleet Street Exiles score (280 for 6 declared) is indeed a great day’s cricket. Perhaps the most dramatic was when, in 1970, the late Tony Todman and Roger Morgan more or less beat the Scorpions on their own, with the former hitting the last over for 6 0 4 6 6 6. I would have watched this from the pavilion end when the early evening sun was shining right down the ground. Typically this would be the time for some “flighted filth” to be delivered by our own wily leg spinners – John Townsend and Tim Barlow come to mind.I do not know how many matches I played altogether but the club averages indicate that I went to the crease 59 times in all. On many occasions it was for a very short passage of time such as when the Lynxes were bowled out by the Scorpions for a meagre 31 runs in 1981. I think my last game might have been against the Bluemantles in 2003 (aged 62). Needless to say I was rubbish, aiming to play a ludicrously ambitious shot against a ball coming out of the aforementioned evening sun, I think I was stumped - a neat parallel dismissal to the one in my first game.Much has changed in recent years – the move to fixtures being played shortly after the end of term; a reduced fixture list with a trend towards more local opposition; matches played in a limited over format; a more casual approach in general. The Lynxes have had to adapt andstalwarts such as Jeremy Lawson deserve much credit for introducing new ideas – such as the “Lynxes Lash”. Who are the real heroes of the club? It is perhaps unfair to pick out names. There have been so many good performers on the pitch but many others have contributed in equally important ways – helping with administration, umpiring or teas. filling in for a team at the last minute or just being a regular supporter on the boundary (and in the pub in the case of the late, super loyal John Wybourn. Philip Thompson and his sons, James and Charlie, have done so much for the club. The stand out batsman is Gary Marshall with an unbelievable number of runs (nearly 5,000) in over 150 innings and Tim Spelling is our own version of Jimmy Anderson with over 250 wickets. Well over 500 O.C.s and guests have played for the club – every single one made a contribution to our history.I sincerely hope that missing Lynxes cricket in 2020 (due to Covid-19) will not affect the future of the club. Another big Anniversary year (the 75 th) is two summers away. Let us ensure that we get together, celebrate and share lots more memories.