Don’s Reply

Don’s Memories

Today, August Bank Holiday Monday, (31st Aug. 2009 Ed.) the weather being dull and cold, I set about doing some maintenance on my PC’s. At one point I had ‘tweaked’ the wireless modem and wanted to test whether I could still connect to the Internet.

I’ve never done this before, but I Googled my own name (don’t know why I haven’t, I guess most people have). Apart from hits that were about some businessman in Toronto, one hit was “Ken’s Tales”, and the initial words showing on the Google hit list showed that it was about me!

I clicked and was really chuffed to see not only that it connected to the HCC web site, that the Ken was dear old Ken Scolding, and that the event he described was my 21st birthday!

I played for HCC from the age of 15 (1961) through to my departure to live and work in South Africa, in 1973.

I had a wonderful time at the Club, really enjoyed my cricket, and met some great people, none greater than Ken. I was in the same class at school as his son Peter. I have the fondest memories of Ken, his wit and generosity. He was a real ‘gent’.

Of course, the events of that Saturday in September 1967 have always stayed with me, not least Ken’s generosity in putting me up for the night (although I never knew until now that he and his family stayed up all night to make sure I was OK).

I remember the scotches starting even before the match started, and fielding at long off, where I ran in for one catch to see the ball sail over my head, followed by running backwards for another catch which then landed 10 foot in front of me! The captain of the day decided I was too much of a liability in the field and the only solution was to put me on to bowl!

I also recall Ken, a few years later when he was coming to the end of his playing days, coming on to bowl his leg breaks. The first 2 balls were longs hops and were despatched. He then bowled a ball of good length but a yard outside off stump, and immediately commented “well, I’ve found my length, now I’ve just got to find my width”.

I was sad to read of Ken’s passing, but I guess we all have the innings allotted to us; his was one that was very fruitful and varied, and was always entertaining.

I’m now past my playing days (gave up playing for the Golden Fleece CC down here in Wiltshire a couple of years ago), but always remember my days at HCC with a smile.

One match I do recall is the one at Stondon Massey (have I got that right?), where we batted first. As the evening drew in and it was getting closer to opening time, the home umpire, whom we later christened as Peg-leg Jake, decided that he was getting thirsty, and the rate at which his finger went up at our appeals increased markedly. After we had won and were in the away dressing room, we could hear shouting and arguing next door in the home dressing room, which sounded more nasty as time went on. We decided a retreat was in order for our own safety, and those us who were passengers in the cars were referred to as ‘riding shotgun’ as we weaved our way out of the ground and then sped back to the safety of Hornchurch. ‘The Battle of Stondon Massey’ was thus born. I wonder if anyone still associated with the Club remembers that match?

Looking at your Who’s Who, the names of J. Balmford, C. Mitchell and B. Rose ring a bell; in fact J. Balmford may have been the Captain the day of my 21st, and I’d lay money that B. Rose played in the Stondon game and penned the ‘Peg-leg Jake’ and ‘riding shotgun’ epithets. One’s memory can really play tricks, so this may all be wrong!

Sorry this email has gone on so long, but once I started I couldn’t stop.

I can only thank HCC and the collection of Ken’s Tales for giving me such an enjoyable time on this dreary Bank Holiday.


Don Coote