Walberton Cricket Club’s oldest former players treated to lunch

Walberton’s oldest former cricketers have been treated to lunch to celebrate the village club’s 150th anniversary.

A call was put out by the new Walberton Place Care Home in a bid to find the oldest former players from Walberton Cricket Club.

Celebrating Walberton Cricket Club's 150th anniversary at Walberton Place Care Home

Celebrating Walberton Cricket Club's 150th anniversary at Walberton Place Care Home

Steve Lockwood, Brian Bailey and Brian Varney, all 80, answered the call and were invited to lunch with their wives in the home’s bistro.

It was an opportunity to share stories and memories, like the beer match, where the prize was a gallon of beer, and the elm tree on the pitch, which they all remembered fielding under and said if you caught the ball after it fell through the branches, it was deemed not out.

They also remembered the trials of travelling to away matches on a South Downs bus, at a cost of two shillings, with one particular ground so obscure, even the bus driver could not find it.

Steve started playing in 1949 and is now the club president. He said he was once knocked out by a ball and had it been a few millimetres lower, it would have killed him.

Brian Varney was known as Buckets because of the size of his hands, while Brian Bailey was nicknamed Biffa because he batted down the order and when he came in late in an innings, he would attempt to whack the ball everywhere.

In neighbouring Slindon, records show shepherds played a version of the cricket on Slindon Common as early as 1741.

By 1892, Walberton was enjoying regular games with Slindon and the club became an important part of village life. It continued to thrive until the war years, when many players were called away for military service, but by 1948, it had been started up again.

Two of the club’s biggest names in more recent years were Roy Jackson and his wife Joan. Roy, who died last year, was a player, captain, chairman and president. Joan made the teas for 55 years and together, they were involved with the club for 70 years. They were fondly remembered during their lunch.

Peter Rolt, customer relations manager, said: “After lunch, they enjoyed a tour of the home, which left everyone very impressed. In fact, you might say they were bowled over by Walberton Place.”