From The Archive: Membership Cards

Hampshire Cricket's historian Dave Allen looks at the archive's interesting collection of Hampshire Membership cards

In these difficult times, people have sometimes drawn comparisons with life during the two great wars of the twentieth century, and like those years – 10 in total – as I write there is no certainty what the future holds.

Back then, cricketers still played all kinds of games whenever and however they could. In the Archive we have quite a collection of Hampshire m=Membership cards going back more than a century, but the items shown in the photograph which I kept together because of their historic significance, suddenly resonate unexpectedly and uncomfortably with our present circumstances.

The first is a pale brown, hard-backed card with “MEMBER’S TICKET 1914” in gold lettering on the front and inside a fixture list which shows the final four matches to be two in the Portsmouth week, followed by two in the Bournemouth week.

In the event, Hampshire’s last visit to Portsmouth came in late July, after which the United Services Officers’ Ground was requisitioned for the war, and those two later matches were switched to Southampton and Bournemouth.

Hampshire, enjoying the best season in their history until 1955 won the final game, defeating Kent by an innings, with their captain Arthur Jaques ending a fine season with match figures of 9-86. One year and four weeks later he was killed in action in France – and as far as we know he had never played any form of cricket after that match at Bournemouth.

There is then another, darker brown card from 1919, the year that the Championship resumed, albeit with matches played over two extended days. This card contains what appear to be perforated members’ tickets for each day – adding that non-members needed to pay 1/- (5p) for entry.

The season did not start until 9 June and ended on 28 August and there were just 16 county matches home-and-away, plus a drawn game against the Australian Imperial Forces XI, captained by Herbie Collins. There was, nonetheless cricket.

On to the Second World War and we have a ticket for a match on a Sunday in late July 1941 when a London Counties XI met a Southampton & District side in a 12-a-side single innings match. The ticket says this was at the Hythe Sports Ground, although Cricket Archive shows it as being played on the County Ground, admission was 9d (about 4p) and the match was a thriller which the visitors won by just four runs.

The London side included notable footballing cricketers, from Arsenal, Ted Drake (once of Hampshire), Joe Hulme and Leslie Compton, plus Hampshire’s future Test umpire Lloyd Budd and Alf Gover of Surrey. The Southampton side included Arthur Holt and ‘Sam’ Pothecary, although their star that day was Jack Treherne (6-41). You might know Jack’s son Roger, who has been for many years a stalwart of the Hampshire Committee and Members’ Committee.

The Government organised such matches during the Second World War under the title “Holidays at Home, a scheme for entertaining people in difficult times – how we would love such a possibility in 2020. The final item in the photograph is the blue cardboard membership card for 1945, the first summer of peacetime but the summer before the Championship resumed.

The card, belonging to Gosport Athletic CC, lists seven Hampshire matches, each on a single day and against a variety of opponents including Sussex (home and away), Northamptonshire, Southampton Police, Aldershot Services and the RAF in late August at Bournemouth.

Hampshire won that match, thanks to 50 from Arthur Holt and four wickets each for spinners Stuart Boyes and Charlie Knott. Charlie would play an important part in the immediate post-war years as a bowler and subsequently as Chairman of the Cricket Committee.

Boyes was 40 when war broke out and a regular in the Hampshire side, but he would play no more for the county when first-class cricket resumed in May 1946, a year and three days after VE Day. Let us hope we don’t have to wait so long for cricket after victory over the virus.

Dave Allen

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