The Founding of St John Fisher Cricket Club

1. Introduction

This history is based mainly upon such documentation, which remains in existence at the present date (i.e. autumn 2003). This is rather sketchy for the formative years and relies heavily upon the memories of Vincent Cosimini, whose assistance is acknowledged in piecing together the early parts of the story to form a coherent narrative. Particular attention is drawn to all of the attached appendices which give far more detailed factual information than contained in the text, and from which alone can the reader obtain much of the bare historical information sought.

2. Formation

From the early 1970s the Parent Teachers Association of St. John Fisher School in Hazelmere Road, St. Albans had run a badminton club in the school hall on term time evenings. This was enthusiastically enjoyed by many people, but in particular by the then head teacher, Bernard Higgins and Vincent Cosimini, whose children attended the school at that time. Both of these gentlemen were sports fans, and were mindful of the social aspects and other benefits to the school, both financial and in terms of its reputation in the city that such activities might bring. In the mid 1970s, the PTA started to organise outdoor football on a similar basis and then in 1979, Bernard suggested to Vincent that he might try to organise a few cricket matches. Vincent contacted the PTAs of some of the other Catholic schools in the area and a few games were arranged (although no records remain). In March 1980 the then head teacher of Nicholas Breakspear School (one of the largest comprehensive schools in the area), Malcolm Eastham (a Lancastrian, very keen cricket enthusiast and no mean player himself in his day), whose school had very good facilities, called a meeting to discuss a possible cricket competition between the parents of all the Catholic schools in the area. This was attended by representatives from Nicholas Breakspear, St. John Fisher, Ss Alban and Stephen, St.Adrian’s, St. Dominic’s, Loreto College and St. Columba’s College. In the end St Columba’s College along with St. Teresa’s and St. Bernadette’s decided not to participate, but a league type structure was agreed where matches would be played between each of the six remaining schools with all matches being played at Nicholas Breakspear using their cricket equipment. Matches would be played over 15 overs a side, with retirement at 25 for batsmen and a maximum of 3 overs a bowler to give every player a reasonable chance to take a significant part. A match fee was set at 10p (!) per player, but there is no record of what happened to this sum. Presumably it went into the school funds of Nicholas Breakspear. Although a few matches fell by the wayside (probably due to rain), the effort was generally successful and St. John Fisher arranged a number of extra games. There is no record of any results, but judging by the additional fixtures, the St. John Fisher players must have enjoyed the experience. Regular players that season were Bernard Clark, Vincent Cosimini, Pat Curtis, Ted Eacope, Gerry Foster, Bernard Higgins, Dave Jordan, Pat Lacey, Andy Lewis, John Melville, James O’Hare, Steve Potter, Pat Roe, Richard Waldron and Paul Watkins. The following year (1981), Vincent organised another 9 matches for Wednesday evenings during June and July playing at Sandridge against the same opposition plus new fixtures against Sandridge School and the National Westminster Bank, of which Pat Curtis was a local branch manager. This was so successful that at the end of the season, the players agreed that it was time to establish a properly constituted club. The inaugural meeting of the St. John Fisher PTA Cricket Club was held at Sandridge CC (Bernard Clark being an active member) on 29 July 1981 (coincidentally the same day as the wedding of HRH the Prince of Wales and Lady Diana Spencer), at which a draft constitution was accepted and officers elected. Life membership was set at £10,which 11 of those present agreed to pay, so that basic equipment could be purchased. In addition to the original committee (see Appendix 1), Pat Curtis was elected to be the Honorary Auditor (and in fact kept this duty for many years). The constitution incorporated what was considered to be a vitally important clause defining a principle that was to be central to the club’s philosophy for its entire existence. This was that team selection would be on the basis of availability (not ability) with the aim of, as far as possible, giving each member an equal number of games and the opportunity to participate in both batting and bowling. The constitution laid down comprehensively how the club should be managed and also included a clause on discipline giving the committee the power to expel a member who misbehaved! The first management committee meeting authorised the purchase of 2 bats, 4 pairs of pads, 3 pairs of batting gloves, stumps, balls and scorebook; and arranged a match in September and a cheese and wine social evening in October. All seemed set fair for the future. The records show that a single wicket competition was held in September, which was won by Bernard Clark who beat Pat Curtis in the final At the end of the first year the accounts show that the club was just in the black thanks mainly to the profits from the cheese and wine social. This was boosted further prior to the start of the next season by another profitable booze up!