Looking at the new Ilminster website you recently displayed, I accessed the cricket club's site. It showed a picture of the club's ground - the old grammar school sports fields. Back in the 1950s the town team played in the Rec. at the side of the football pitch. At this time we Summervale boys spent so much time in the Rec, either playing cricket or football, or watching the town teams play. We used to arrange all our own "matches " there, but when I was 13 I started to operate the scoreboard for the cricket club during their matches. Soon after some of us would hang around the nets when the men were practising; this gradually led to us being asked to bowl at the men. Eventually I got a chance to bat against the men, but some of their bowling could be a little bit quick!
The next season, when I was 14, I was delighted to get a late call-up to play for the town 2nd XI at Staplegrove, Taunton. When Ilminster batted they had a bad day and looked like being out for well below a 100. I was stuck in as last man and the fielders immediately crowded in on me, as they often do with small youngsters. This soon changed when I hit a couple of 4s and I ended up 19 not out. Walking back to the pavilion, I well remember the applause and encouragement, and I felt rather pleased with myself! And it was enough to get me hooked on cricket for life! (Incidentally, I have only just retired from the game last year, aged 68!) Anyway, after the match, we all repaired to a local pub where one of our players asked me what I wanted to drink. Well, of course, I had no idea! We didn't seem to know anything about drinks and drinking then! Someone suggested a cider shandy (what on earth is that, I thought) and I ended up trying a rough cider shandy. Ugh! I don't think I had an alcoholic drink after that for a few years!!
After that game I was asked to play regularly for the team. Soon after I got invited to the County Ground at Taunton to receive coaching from the Somerset players. A great moment for a 14 year old! I travelled up on the bus and had a long session in the indoor nets. I recall Brian Lobb, a very quick bowler for the county, letting go a few express deliveries at me. Wow! Yes, it was a bit nerve-wracking! A good test nevertheless.
At the Rec. our heroes in the Ilminster team were John England and Cyril White, both good batsmen, and the Crockett brothers, Roy and Derek. We loved it when John England whacked sixes out into Wharf Lane and we wondered if we would ever be able to emulate him.
We liked our football too. John England and Cyril White played for the town team and Sid Garland in goal was a great favourite. I liked watching Arthur Paull ("good old Arthur"), a dashing centre forward with brylcreemed hair and a centre parting. You don't see them like that any more! Peter Lee was a very promising young goalkeeper and later on he was to marry one of our Summervale girls, June Wakeham of course. (I wonder where they are now?)
Sometimes there would be big crowds at the matches. This was in the days before most people had cars, televisions and all the other leisure activities that we engage in nowadays.
For F.A. Amateur Cup matches the crowd might be all around the perimeter and packed into the grandstand too. On match days the club would close off the entrances to the Rec and would charge for entry. Often we boys didn't have the money to pay so we soon found ways of by-passing that obstacle. The best method was to arrive at the Rec. very early, well before the barriers went up. We'd set up our own games ,then as soon as the Town started playing we would sneak over to watch them! A bit unethical I suppose ,but we weren't too keen on paying. I think most people did pay, but we boys felt it was an injustice to be charged for using what we rightly felt was "our Rec".
Great days they were! Best wishes Summervalians!
That has awakened a few memories for me too as Tony, my brother was a keen sportsman and,in fact, played at one time for Somerset colts before going into the RAF. He also played football but I’m not sure if he played for the town team. The name Sibley comes to mind in connection with the football – am I right?
I remember going to watch him play at Chard; it was a very hot day and, as we went into the tent for tea, I was sick! I never did get to tuck in to the cucumber sandwiches or the homemade cakes.
June Wakeham remained in Ilminster and is still there as far as I know. She used to work in the Chemists just along the road from Dyers – can’t remember the name but I do remember buying my first lipstick there – aged 11.
Here is a photo of June ( on the right) with Maureen Kearney
Today is John Satchell’s birthday and we still keep in touch. Here is a photo of him as a trendy Mod back in 1961.
Happy Birthday John.