Penn & Tylers Green Cricket Club was founded in 1909, currently in its centenary year it is captained by the tactical mastermind Andy Francis, who is undoubtedly the greatest player to represent the club in its 100 year history.
Cricket is very much a country game with its roots buried deep in country places and this truly rural game has been played in Penn and district for over 150 years. Many clubs played in and around the area, but Penn & Tylers Green became recognised as a club in 1909 when their games were played on the Back Common, the land behind the doctors’ surgery, which was until recently the Horse and Groom. Following complaints about the standard of the Back Common wicket the Club moved in 1921 to its present ground. The man responsible for instigating this and then playing a major part in the ground purchase was Mr Wigram, who resided at Yonder Lodge and also played for the Club. At about the same time some of the village players were given further opportunities to play their beloved game by a lady enthusiast, Mrs Becher, who ran her own side. Other players were invited to play games on the private ground of Rayners, where the school is now based.
However, the club began to thrive and develop in its new surroundings, and Penn rapidly became a much sought after venue. Early press cuttings reveal the ground as being described as one of the best in the High Wycombe and District Cricket League of which the Club was one of the founder members. In the early years of the League the teams fortunes had fluctuated with most of the time being spent in the lower divisions, but finishing Div 3 and Div 6 champions in 1927 and 1933 respectively were the early high spots. In 1938 fortunes changed when the 1st Xl won the Div 2 quickly followed by what was considered the Club’s beat season when the 1st Xl won the 1st Div in 1939.
Through the years many notable players and personalities have served the Club well, and Nobler Ayres once represented Bucks in the 1920’s. The Long brothers featured in the teams of 30s/40s and William Long was a ‘giant’ of his times having many inspiring seasons as club captain, batsman and bowler as well as representing the High Wycombe and District League.
During these times other ‘towers of strength’ were Walt Page and Arthur Spicer who selflessly served the Club as Secretary and Chairman, and the Rev Gerald Hayward , Vicar of St Margaret’s, made his presence felt when other duties permitted. Two other characters, Jimmy Craft and Ted Birch, dutifully carried the collecting box at all home games, and Ted Birch along with Sid Syrett were honoured with Life Memberships, the first in the Club’s history, for outstanding service over many years.
One man, who has been a vital link between past and present, is Alan Sturgess, now the Club President. In 1944 he was elected vice-captain of the first ever youth team, and since then he has witnessed many changes in the Club. His father, Walter, used to cut the grass on the ’square’ with a mower drawn by a horse fitted with leather shoes to protect the ’table’. On some occasions the grass in the outfield was so long that lost ball had to be called, but then players started mowing the outfield on Mondays and then spending some time each evening doing a little more until Friday. Their compensation was to have net practice each evening under the guidance of a professional coach, Mr C Baldwin, a former Surrey player.
Apart from ground preparation being long and arduous transport was a problem in the early years. ‘Shanks Pony’, the horse and trap and bicycle all played their part, but difficulties were eased somewhat with the coming of motor vehicles. Slades, the coal merchants, were contracted to take the teams to away venues, and for some players Saturday mornings were spent outside the Horse and Groom cleaning coal dust from the wagon and installing beer barrels as seats. The Horse and Groom was always the focal point for the Club. In early days teams changed there before going to play on the Back Common and later walked between houses on Elm Road to the present ground. The landlords always gave good support to the Club. Mr S Saunders, was President between 1949 and 1969, and Neville Redway is still a Vice-President.
The Club has been blessed by having generous and long serving presidents in Sir Robert Evans, 1929-1945, and Sir Oliver Millar, 1973 – 2007. Sir Oliver had also been a committee member and Chairman as well as player, and hosted annual matches against his invitation Xl with lunch and tea at Yonder Lodge, and it was in his time that the club achieved further notable successes, namely the 1st Xl won Div 2 in 1954, and then followed this up by winning Div l in 1958.
The Club became founder members of the Mid-Bucks League in the 1970s, and in 1980 reached their first ever knockout final losing a close encounter with Great Kingshill only to beat them in the final the next year. In 1981 the Club also reached the last 64 of the National Village Competition eventually losing to Winchmore hill in the Berks and Bucks Area Final.
It was during these years that Terry Uphill emerged as a highly respected all-rounder representing the High Wycombe and District League on many occasions, and Gilbert Knight and John Daniell gave and continue to give loyal and unstinting service to the Club. Many other members, too numerous to mention, have served Penn & Tylers Green Cricket Club well over the years and it is due to their consistent efforts that the Club has developed into one that has a worthy tradition behind it as well as holding a much respected place in local cricket.
The future is full of promise. Links have at long last been established with the Football Club, youth cricket is being developed and current members have determination to put Penn & Tylers Green Cricket Club prominently on the cricketing map of Buckinghamshire. In 1950 Mr G Hobday, Vice-President,said at the Annual Dinner that the recipe for a successful cricket club is to have a fine tradition, sufficient funds, a gallant and sportsmanlike spirit, a good wicket in perfect surroundings with a good local. Penn & Tylers Green has all these ingredients, and can confidently look forward to a future full of promise.
In the late 70’s and early 80’s the strong intake of members such as John Pratt, Richard Powell, Brian Francis, Mike Townshend and Nick Crichton both improved the quality of the cricket being played and helped develop the colts cricket with as many as 70 colts taking part in practice on a Thursday evening. This led to the early fulfilment of the promise anticipated, when the above history was written at the time of the celebration of the first 75 years of the Club, with the unprecedented successes of Penn & Tylers Green Cricket Club over the next 25 years.
After being a member of the Mid-Bucks League since it was founded, the Club was invited to join the Morrant Group Chilterns Cricket League in 1992. Both the 1st X1 and 2nd X1 had been winners or runners-up in their respective divisions on several occasions in the Mid-Bucks League and also the Club had been winners or runners-up in the KO competition. The Club won the Rapid Recall KO competition on the High Wycombe ground in 1987 with Terry Bentley hitting a four off the last ball in the dark to win, and also won the Thermalite Indoor Cricket League in 1988.
This success was largely due to a combination of senior experienced players providing capable captains with a strong influx of young players such as Richard Mikurenda, Nick Parry, Andrew Wheeler, Paul Francis and others, who had come through the Colts system, and this success was maintained when the Club joined the Morrant Group Chilterns League with 1st X1 winning the 1st division in 1994, 2000 and 2004, and the KO Cup in 1993/4/5 and 2004, and the 2nd X1 winning their division in 1999 and 2006/7/8. Both teams were also runners-up on several occasions. A number of our young players have represented Bucks in their age group, and some have gone on to play for more senior clubs.
The formation of the Sports & Social Club bringing the Football, Cricket and Tennis Clubs together enabled the Cricket Club to enjoy better changing facilities and better viewing of the matches enhanced by the large patio adjacent to the tennis courts. Mike Townshend was Treasurer for many years, and brought in systems that enabled the Sports & Social Club to fund an extension, where teas are now served, improve the Clubhouse and tarmac the car park. This also meant that the Cricket Club no longer went over to the Horse & Groom, which was recently demolished with the doctors surgery having been built on its site.
Sadly we have lost a number of Vice-Presidents in the last 25 years, and since the Millenium also two stalwart supporters in our longstanding President, Sir Oliver Millar, and Harold Beeny, who for many years could be seen on the tractor cutting the outfield in the vain hope that eventually it would look like Lord’s. Sir Oliver very generously left a bequest, which has been used towards the electronic scoreboard, and a naming ceremony will take place on Vice-President’s Day this summer. Alan Sturgess, who has been associated with the Club for well over 65 years latterly as Chairman, succeeded Sir Oliver as President.
The success of the Club has been due to the contributions of many members, both playing and non-playing, but things cannot be allowed to stand still if the Club wishes to progress. The playing facilities continue to be improved with the Chairman, Steve Coleman, spending many hours tending the square and countering the moles in the outfield, new sightscreens were purchased in 2008, and the Club’s Constitution has been rewritten to enable the Club to become a Sport Charity and set a proper standard for the running of a Cricket Club. Due to initiatives by Derek Smith the old net was replaced by two new ones, covers were constructed for the wicket, and some of the major undulations in the outfield were levelled. Club members have attended and passed examinations in umpiring and scoring, and Gilbert Knight, the Club Treasurer for almost 50 years, has scored on occasion for the England Ladies Cricket Team and at Lord‘s for a one day international.
Thanks go out to all those who help in the administration of the Club, those who are organising the Centenary Ball on 17th July, and those who spend much time with our colts. Also we thank our Vice- Presidents and supporters, who help maintain the financial viability of the Club. We look forward to continued success in the years ahead, but judging from the quality of opposing teams so far this year this will be no easy task. However, everyone, who plays on our ground, expresses the view that we are fortunate to have such wonderful facilities in a glorious setting and yet still remain a Village Cricket Club. Long may it continue thus.