Tim Spelling (Horsley 1972)
It’s in the genes really. My Dad was a decent sportsman and so was my Mum so luckily theirsporting genes were passed on. My first introduction to Lynxes cricket, which was always the second week of August (coinciding with A level results), was due to the lovely man, Jack Edwards. I lived in Rolvenden, he in Tenterden and he knew I could play cricket and asked me to sign up for a few games in 1972.The next 31 years of Lynxes cricket were great. I loved every minute of playing and being up at Big Side, amongst those I regarded as my friends, Lynxes or the Opponents, always friends. That, I found was the essence of Lynxes cricket week, meeting old mates, making new ones and ensuring that wives, girlfriends and children all enjoyed themselves. Thankfully, I think they all did.Lynxes and the Windmill Pub are almost joined at the hip, with some of the best landlords you could wish for, Ron and Lynn Dawkins being the absolute best, accommodating us morning noon and night, with babysitting as well. Memorable long lunches and the odd bottle of Port, or Moscow Mules taken out on a wheelbarrow post lunch.So many names to recall, and we are talking legends here, all characters, but sadly, some now dead: Andrew Bond, John Henry Wybourn, J.D.J. Bluett, Terry Keefe, Jack Edwards, Sydney Prall. Who can forget Henry’s apples during the week and Terry’s laconic manner in playing cricket for one week a year (coming back from his home in Spain)? Then the fierce competitiveness of Andrew Bond. He was so sharp in his appreciation of cricketers and the bravest one I have ever met.There were tough opponents as well. It was proper cricket. I am sure that for many of the students that had recently left school it was a real eye-opener to see the standard of play. I was shocked in my first meeting with the Racqueteers for instance. This club, based around South Manchester, could bring down a strong side, dotted with a few professional cricketers from Lancashire League Cricket. I think they sussed I was a decent cricketer and at lunch they encouraged me to have a few pints, which I imbibed. I then fell asleep on a mattress outside the pavilion but managed to wake up enough to score 73 (still my highest Lynxes score, I think).There were so many good cricketers that we played against in the week (from Sunday to Sunday). That was a lot of cricket and not many could play all the games, Tim Barlow, that super athlete, apart. In good weather the week took its toll, but it allowed different people to play and meet up; all different generations as well. I can recall a game when a certain Mr Tim Wilson, circa 60 years old, fielding at first slip, managed to drop 4 catches off me before lunch. We kept at different tables for lunch but made up in the evening. Tunbridge Wells (away), on the Monday was always a nice game as it was at the Nevill and after the game we could go to the Duke of York and sample a few Harveys. We did not drink, and drive pleasenote! Gary Marshall getting absolutely drunk after a good score and making his debut for Lynxes was a night to remember as well.Saturdays saw the Scorpions visit Big Side, and yet again they would have one or two very good players, but the memory goes to the Judge, a formidable leg break bowler (he was not actually a judge but that was his given nickname). We had some great games on Saturdaysand, afterwards, we often had a club Barbeque that was well attended and saw the opportunity for fun around the large bath that was then in the pavilion.John Shepherd, the great Kent and West Indian cricketer, played for Scorpions one year and Ihappened to come in to bat against him. I was in awe of course, but settled into play a sensible knock, and got confident enough to play a lofted drive for six over his head. He said “Good shot”, but that was that. Two balls later I was plumb LBW with a tidy off cutter and trundled off to the pavilion.No Lynxes week was complete without the special teas and we were so lucky that during my time we had Mrs Smythe to serve up lovely sandwiches and cakes, with a plentiful supply for all the friends that came to support the days at Big Side. I think the highlight filling for the sandwiches was Marmite and Crisps - such an unusual combination but it worked well.I felt it important to try and take some days off from the cricket and, being in the bestcounty in England, there was plenty to do and see - Camber Sands, Rye, Bodiam Castle, Sissinghurst Gardens, Batemans and many more places. A highlight was going to Canterbury cricket week in the early 1980s to see the final days of a Knott and Underwood partnership,when my wife. Nikki read a book most of the day.We would book a place to stay (prior to Airbnb) for the week in Cranbrook if we could and would entertain other Lynxes. Barbeques were held and the Fisher, Jenner, Taylor and Philpot families would be regular attendees. Good times indeed.I ran a few games as an opponent and had friends come down to play. Many of my friends still refer to Lynxes week and what a great time they had. Their kids were learning to cycle, or playing in the long jump pit for hours and was just a great time to relax and enjoy the company and the views.Nicknames, always good fun that. “Tin Peach” Thompson, for example, How can someone be called “Tin Peach” for one week a year? And then the sons of “Tin Peach” being called “Apricot” and “Nectarine” - such originality!There have been many highlights of Lynxes cricket but one was outside of the week itself, and that involved the 1990 World Cricket trophy. Lynxes entered the competition with not much thought of doing well, let alone winning the competition, as it was challenging to get a balanced side out for the series of 4 or 5 games. However, that year Lynxes managed to perform quite well in the initial rounds and played in the semi-final vs Old Bedfordians. After a game that we thought we needed to win but actually lost the team disappeared into the changing rooms to shower up etc after our narrow defeat (I think I dropped a catch or three).When we came out of the shower, John Furminger was smiling. That is unusual, I know, but he said that we had gone through to the final on bonus points won! How, I still am not sure.The final was played vs Old Reigatians, and we managed to win by 60 runs, with Gary Marshall scoring 80 and sneaking the man of the match award. The Lynxes team was John Furminger, Martin Mills, Miles Richards, Gary Marshall, Hugo Youngman, Andy King, Tom Allen, Jon Honey, Tim Spelling, John Marshall and John Gurr, David Firminger umpired and Charlie Thompson scored. That was a truly great day and, as Captain, I was proud of every one of the team and our supporters. To win such a cup and play so well, having committed to quite a few Sundays throughout the season at venues dotted around the South East, was a great effort. I am pleased to say I am still in touch with all the team.I have enjoyed a lot of cricket in Lynxes weeks when matches have been played with passion and lots of fun. I finished my playing days circa 2004, with an ankle injury, but still went down to support the club and meet old mates. Yes, I was lucky that my mother was living in Tenterden, but we booked holidays to coincide with cricket and would not miss it if at all possible. It has been good to see the week continue to 2019, albeit a slimmed down week. Lynxes has suffered like all cricket weeks with the pressure of work and limited free time, but it is wonderful to see it continue and hopefully the club will now go on into a new decade. We have a Lynxes 75 th Anniversary to celebrate years in 2022 and it would be tremendous to see the weeks continue past this date.Special words should be said for past Lynxes, such as Jeremy Barham, who has been instrumental in making it a success over the past 50 years. Gary Marshall, again a legend of Lynxes, has given infinite time to organising the week and always seemingly in control. Jez Lawson has also regularly supported the week and created a new vision of T20 games that attract a new style of cricketer. John Taylor is to be thanked for his support, maintaining the club’s averages and contributing to the history of the Lynxes. The groundsmen, who have given their time wonderfully well over the years – especially when we played in August. It was well after the school term had finished and so required extra commitment. Thanks to you all.My record stands as a Lynx but I think that misses the point really. What Lynxes was, and hopefully still is about, is having the opportunity to return to Big Side to meet your mates,often with their families, and catch up on past times, whilst playing cricket and know that each year they will very likely be back again, God willing.I am hoping that 2021 can see a return to Lynxes cricket, I will be there supporting, Let’s get it done!