Sodbury Cricket in the 1890s
[LENGTH:6mins Reading Time]
The opening match of the 1893 season was played on May 6th against the Wotton-under-Edge Alliance Club at Wotton. Chipping Sodbury (for whom Alfie Grace opened and his younger brother, Arthur, went in first wicket down) totalled 55.
"The Wotton team made a poor show after the first wicket fell for ten runs, some of the best men making no score at all which was no doubt due to the able bowling of Messrs. A. H. Grace and J. Rowe" stated the "Gazette" account of the match.
Wotton's ninth wicket fell with the score on 26 but there was a dramatic last wicket stand which gave Wotton a win by two runs. "Both the batsmen were congratulated and cheers given for the winners" concluded the report of the game. For Chipping Sodbury, Alfie Grace took five wickets (all clean bowled) and J. Rowe took the other five.
In a 12-a-side return match at Chipping Sodbury on May 27th, 1893, Wotton secured an easy win, scoring 113 runs. Chipping Sodbury replied with only 43 and made 35 in their second knock, three of their players being marked down as "absent" in the scorebook. In Wotton's innings, Arthur Grace bowled three batsmen and caught another.
J. Mills captained Chipping Sodbury in the I894 season and in the home match with Wickwar on The Ridings on May 26th, Chipping Sodbury scored 56 in reply to the visitors' total of 115. Chipping Sodbury's team on that occasion was: H. Perrett, J. Rowe, Dr. T. C. Leman, W. A. Fanning, J. Trenfield, E. Freeman, R. Iles, T. H. Ratcliff, J. Iles, G. Eyles and S. Turner.
In the match between Wotton and Chipping Sodbury at The Ridings on June 2nd, 1894, the home team had the choice of innings and opened with J. Mills and W. A. Fanning. It is recorded in the "Gazette" that runs came freely for a few overs and the score had reached 17 "when Stout upset the captain's wicket." Stout made an excellent running catch at third man to dismiss E. Maidment and with other batsmen going rather cheaply "the end soon came". J. Iles carrying out his bat for a useful ten. Chipping Sodbury totalled 55.
When Wotton went into bat, Reuben Iles soon proved his worth as a bowler dismissing, Pearce, Stout and Pennington with only 7 runs scored. Other wickets fell and when the eighth wicket pair were at the crease, Wotton still wanted 20 runs to win. Amid great excitement the score rapidly rose and Hine made the winning hit. Wotton eventually reached 67. Reuben Iles bowled so effectively that he took eight wickets, two batsmen being run out.
"The Chipping Sodbury skipper brought a very strong pick up" (it is recorded in the "Gazette") for the return match at Wotton on June 30th, 1894. Chipping Sodbury seem to have been guilty of bad time-keeping because the "Gazette" account of the match records that "owing to the late arrival of several of the visiting team, their captain, after winning the toss, was compelled to put Wotton into bat first." Their innings, according to the cricket correspondent of the "Gazette" called for "little comment," the batsmen failing miserably against the bowling of E. Maidment who took six wickets at a very small cost. Wotton were dismissed for 35 and Chipping Sodbury replied with 62 thanks to the batting of J. Rowe (not out 17), J. Mills (13) and A. Sowler (11). This was Wotton's first defeat in the 1894 season.
At Wickwar on July 21st, 1894, Chipping Sodbury were dismissed for 34 in reply to Wickwar's total of 50, R. Iles taking five wickets and Arthur Grace, three. Five Sodbury batsmen failed to score and top scorer was J. W. Trenfield with 10.
Among the matches arranged in the 1895 season was one with old opponents, Wotton-under-Edge Alliance Cricket Club, but this fixture was not fulfilled through Chipping Sodbury's inability to get a team together. "This was very much regretted by the Wotton men who were most anxious to try conclusions again with their only victors of last season" stated the "Gazette" cricket correspondent in the issue of June 22nd, 1895.
Wotton, Wickwar and Thornbury Castle were included in the 1896 fixture list. In the away game at Wotton on May 16th, 1896, Chipping Sodbury could only muster 49 in reply to Wotton's total of 140, E. Maisey (16) and J. Mills (10 not out) being the only Sodbury batsmen to reach double figures. For the losers, Alfie Grace took four wickets.
Wotton also gained the verdict in the return game at The Ridings on August 22nd, scoring 91 for 8 in reply to Chipping Sodbury's total of 84. Leading run-getters for Sodbury were Alfie Grace with 20 and J. Mills with 16, although "Mr. Extras" turned in the best performance with 28! In Wotton's innings, Alfie Grace took four wickets and J. Rowe, three. Wicket- keeper J. Ball stumped two batsmen off Rowe's bowling and held a catch off Grace.
At Wickwar on May 8th, 1897, Chipping Sodbury scored 61 (G. Eyles 22, J. Rowe 12) and Wickwar replied with 113 for 6, George Eyles getting three wickets. On June 12th, 1897 (the year that he qualified as a doctor and commenced practising in Chipping Sodbury), Alfie Grace opened Thornbury Castle's innings against Wotton and scored 106 out of a total of 200.
There was a low scoring match at Chipping Sodbury on July 3Ist, 1897 when the visitors were Wotton. Chipping Sodbury made only 32, C. Ponting being top scorer with 6 and Wotton replied with 49. For Chipping Sodbury, C. Hewett clean bowled six batsmen and B. Freeman bowled three more, the other wicket falling to S . Hacker. Six Chipping Sodbury batsmen failed to score in the home game with Wickwar on August 7th that year and it was thanks to an undefeated knock of 20 by J. Ball and 21 from B. Hassell that they reached a total of 57. Wickwar made 86, B. Freeman getting five wickets and G. Eyles, three.
Chipping Sodbury gave a poor batting display in their home match with Tytherington on June 11th, 1898 being dismissed for a mere 25 in reply to the visitors' total of 46. On Monday, July 18th, 1898, Chipping Sodbury played Thornbury and won by 109 to 63, G. Truebody clean bowling five Thornbury batsmen. Leading scorers for Chipping Sodbury in this match were C. Ponting (31), J. Mills (20), B. Fugil (19), W. Coombs (15) and F. Holborow (10).
On May 27th, 1899, Chipping Sodbury entertained Wotton and won by 47 runs. Dr. Alfie Grace was top scorer with 23 in a total of 87 and G. Eyles took seven wickets. The Doctor was also in good form with the bat when he opened Chipping Sodbury's innings at Wickwar on June 3rd, 1899 and scored 46 out of 85, five Sodbury batsmen failing to get off the mark. But despite this fine innings and good bowling by G. Eyles (five wickets) and F. Lester (three), Chipping Sodbury lost the match by 21 runs.
In the return match with Wotton on June 24th, 1899, at Wotton, Chipping Sodbury batted first after winning the toss but were all out for 43. Dr. Alfie Grace was top scorer with 13 and took six Wotton wickets, the home side totalling 83.