Lincoln Christ's Hospital School

Lincoln Christ's Hospital School
Educating in Lincoln since 1090


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                                                                                Jack Hobbs at Lincoln School

                                                   From the Garton Archive: Item of Interest No 13

 Item of Interest 13 1

This priceless photograph of a cricket match between Lincoln School first eleven and Captain Webb’s eleven was taken on the Lincoln School playing field in 1938.

The star visitor, playing for Captain Webb’s team, was Sir Jack Hobbs, seated on the middle row second from the left. Also in the picture are Captain Webb himself, seated in the middle of the row, the School Captain, Frank H Arscott, seated to his right, and Reg Woodward, featured in Occasional Paper 29 from the Garton Archive. Reg is the smiling third cricketer from the right on the back row, sporting a cravat. The umpire on the right is Mr W Widdowson, a former professional cricketer who travelled from Nottingham to coach the School 1st XI.

Sir John Berry "Jack" Hobbs was a world-famous cricketer who played for Surrey and England between 1905 and 1934, representing his country in 61 Test Matches. Known as "The Master", Hobbs was regarded as one of the greatest batsmen in the history of cricket. He is one of the leading run-scorers and century-makers in first-class cricket, with over 60,000 runs and almost 200 centuries to his name. He was also regarded as one of the finest fielders in the game at cover point. In 1938, Hobbs had retired from first-class cricket, but still played many games for charity.

The July 1938 edition of The Lincolnian magazine recorded that the annual match with Captain Webb’s X1 had an added attraction since Mr Jack Hobbs was a member of the visiting team which included several other notable cricketers. Mr Hobbs, batting first wicket down, treated one of the largest crowds ever seen on the School ground to a fine innings of 89, which included 24 runs off one over from ‘one unfortunate bowler’. The above photograph, which hangs proudly opposite the Headmaster’s study at LCHS, also recorded that he put one six onto the Assembly Hall roof, and that it was the only time he ever played in Lincolnshire. According to The Lincolnian article the School team was by no means disgraced by defeat from so strong a side. In the event, the School made 110 all out, with Ken Paulger (seated on the ground third from the right) and Geoff Spalding (standing on the top row to the left of Mr Widdowson with his arms folded) gaining scores in the 30s. In reply Captain Webb’s eleven made 163 for 4, presumably batting on to ensure that the crowd had the benefit of seeing Hobbs bat. Spalding was also the pick of the bowlers, returning figures of 2 for 31, including the wicket of ‘The Master’, who was caught by Paulger.

The Garton Archive contains an article about the match published in either the Lincolnshire Echo or the Lincolnshire Chronicle. The article pointed out that the School had an annual fixture with a team recruited by Captain Webb, who came from Louth and was a former minor counties cricketer. It also reported that the team contained John Harrop of Trinity College, Cambridge, Major Henry Clarke of the Lincoln gentleman’s X1, J R Fox of Eton School and the Lincolnshire Gentlemen, and W N Jones of the Lancashire League.

In an interview with the reporter after the game Jack Hobbs complimented the Lincoln School batsmen on their defensive technique, but encouraged them to develop the confidence to play their attacking strokes. He also praised the groundsman, Mr Albert Kent, for the quality of the wicket. Mr Kent, a well-known figure in local football as a full-back with Burton Road FC, lovingly tended the playing fields at Lincoln School, The Lindum, and Clayton’s for many years. Being the consummate professional, Jack Hobbs concluded that he was disappointed not to make a century! The bowler who ‘bagged’ his wicket, Mr Spalding, must have dined out many times on his notable achievement!

The earliest reference to cricket in the School magazine may be found in the Garton Archive in one of the earliest editions of what was originally called Lincoln Grammar School Magazine. The article on cricket in the May 1888 edition reported that only five of the 1887 eleven were left. The team was captained by HG Watkins. It was regretted that many of the Sixth Form seemed to have had a repulsion for games, which resulted in difficulties for the selection committee. An appeal was issued for players to adopt ‘steady play’, and for the Captain to encourage this practice in the nets. ‘Hitting’ should be left to such players as Watkins and Drage, with Harrison first wicket down. ‘Weak’ was apparently the only word to describe the bowling department, but confirmation of this awaited the results!

The fixtures list was not completed by the time the magazine was printed, but a match with Ruskington was regarded as a welcome change from the usual school fixtures. The only result recorded in that magazine was of a match against Bishop’s Hostel, in which the School team was dismissed for 91, and the Hostel made 134 for 7. The July 1888 edition, however, recorded results with match commentaries against Ruskington CC, Boston Grammar School, King’s School Grantham, Gainsborough Grammar School, and De Aston School Market Rasen. The School won three and lost one of these matches, with the game against Boston being abandoned because of heavy rain. Market Rasen, the ‘old opponents’, were dismissed for 14, with Watkins taking 6 wickets for 7 runs and Boulton 4 for 4! Perhaps the bowling was not as ‘weak’ as predicted! In those days the School was housed in premises on Lindum Terrace, now occupied by the Lincoln Minster School, and home matches were played on the Lindum Cricket ground. One wonders how the teams travelled to away games. By train perhaps? Practice nets were held on Monday and Thursday afternoons, and games were arranged on Tuesdays and Fridays between 5.45 and   7.00 pm, and on Wednesday and Saturday afternoons.

The remarkably well-preserved photograph below is one of the earliest we have in the Garton Archive, and shows the cricket team of 1895. The rather solemn looking gentlemen was Revd Canon William Weekes Fowler, who was Headmaster of Lincoln Grammar School from 1880 to 1900.

 Item of Interest 13 2

 The Captain, G Jennings, is seated on the left of the middle row, and is wearing a cap. To his right is one of the masters, Mr Boulton, and to the right of the Headmaster, also wearing a cap, is Mr Humphries. The smartly dressed youngster must have been the scorer, as the scorebook is clearly visible in his left hand. One wonders why some of the boys were wearing ties. Perhaps they were prefects, ‘scholars’, or possibly had been awarded their ‘colours’? The photograph below shows how little the view has changed over the years. The building is now part of the Lincoln Minster School campus.

 Item of interest 13 3

 It is remarkable how similar the pattern was some 70 years later in the late 1950s, when we played against the same grammar schools, with one or two additional ones, on Wednesday and Saturday afternoons. House matches were played in the evenings after school. We travelled to most matches by coach in those days, but we went by train to Mundella School Nottingham, carrying the large and heavy cricket bag from the station down the side of the River Trent to the school. Although the City School in Lincoln began its life in 1928, and was formerly known as the Municipal Technical Day School (formed in 1896), the first recorded ‘needle’ match against the City School was played in 1945 The match was won by the City School, who scored 77 runs to Lincoln School’s 62. ‘Lol’ Thompson top scored for the School with 28, and Frank Richardson made 23. Reedman took 2 wickets for 13 runs for the School. The following year Lincoln School gained its revenge by beating the City School by 85 runs, and the rivalry began in earnest.

Contrary to much biased and ill-informed opinion, competitive games, including cricket, continue to thrive at LCHS, as indeed they do at the overwhelming majority of secondary schools and academies in the UK. Cricket matches continue to be played against other schools at Under 13 and Under 15 levels in the Lincoln District League. Students are also encouraged to play for local clubs, including The Lindum, Bracebridge Heath and Cherry Willingham. Competitive cricket at sixth form level is unfortunately no longer possible because of the pressure of examinations. A couple of Under 15 cricketers have represented the County at cricket, so there may well be a budding Jack Hobbs among them.

Meanwhile Steve Thompson, the present groundsman, tends the grounds with the same loving care and expertise as Albert Kent and others did before him. The School still boasts a cricket ‘square’, now on the second field where the Under 14 square used to be, and where Steve’s work is ably supported by Mike Savage who has served the Old Lincolnians Cricket Club with loyalty and dedication for several decades.

Peter Harrod

Assistant Archivist at LCHS

March 2013