Memories 3 - 6th July 1957: Ealing v Brentham
The annual fixture against Ealing at Corfton Road took place on Saturday, 6th July and was a local derby in every sense of the word. I have to say that there was a certain added significance for both my brother John and I because we had both been scorers for Ealing 1st and A XIs for several seasons when we were aged 12-14. The encounter was enhanced by the number of cricketers on view with both 1st and 2nd XI County Cricket experience - Frank Ahl, Horace Brearley, Bob Felton and John Swann for Brentham and for Ealing, Ken Hinge and Eddie Ingram.
I cannot remember who made the most runs or took the most wickets, but I remember the totals. Ealing batted first and at tea they had been bowled out for 90. Brian Mead bowled 15 overs, 5 maidens, taking 4 for 34. Unbelievable, I thought, as we did not have a great record against Ealing, and recall saying to my brother in between sandwiches and cakes that “we can win this”. To which he replied, “let’s wait and see.”
Just after 6pm we were 72 for 9 when our last man Conrad Smithers emerged from the pavilion. He was only 19 years of age but kept wicket very well. A slim, bubbly personality, he had joined the club through Brian Waters. However, he could not really bat at all and he joined Brian Mead, who had only a marginally better reputation.
The crowd, and there were very good crowds at this time, were very excited and became even more so, as the score edged along until, against all the odds, the scores were level. The great Eddie Ingram bowled to Mead, who stroked the ball into the covers where there was a single to be had. Confidence by now was abounding and, unaccountably, he refused the run. He apparently wanted to finish this tense occasion with a boundary. It was not to be and he was bowled next ball. The captain was less than pleased!
It was a somewhat bizarre encounter, as indeed local derbies often are with low scores on a good wicket but with the most exciting of endings.
Note: In Brian’s defence, 1957 was his annus mirabilis, at least in other ways, as he took 117 wickets in the season.