NCCC Supporters Club


The Official Newsletter of Northamptonshire County Cricket Supporters Club (Founded 1988)

Chairman: Trevor Bailey, 41 Debdale Road, Northampton NN3 2TR Telephone (01604) 409371 Email:

Secretary: Mrs Maureen Coles, Badgers Cottage, 8 Sywell Village, Northampton NN6 0BQ. Telephone (01604) 494160. Email:

Treasurer: Mrs Linda Fisher, 110 Denmark Street, Bedford. Email:

Membership Secretary: Dianne Ward, Flat 2, 13 Park Avenue, Northampton NN3 2BX. Telephone (01604) 635800 Email

Newsletter Editor: Bill Horsley, 10 Delamere Road, Northampton, NN4 8QG. Telephone (01604) 765780 Email:

Committee Members; Jim Finney, Michael Wells and Sheila Kent.



““Do not be angry with the rain; it simply does not know how to fall upwards.”  - Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977) Russian author.


It has certainly been very wet recently and I don't envy groundsmen trying to prepare pitches. Nevertheless a new cricket season will soon be with us with Northamptonshire due to begin their domestic pre-season build up before the end of March. I hope that the weather cheers up a bit by then!

So what can we expect from 2014? Defending the Twenty20 title will be tough for a number of reasons. Firstly we know for certain that at least two of the victorious eleven from last August will not be returning. Lee Daggett has retired and Cameron White cannot return due to current regulations...


Secondly the Midlands/West/Wales Group is no more and the County are back in the North Group. Thirdly the fixtures in this competition are spread over a longer period of time meaning that it's less likely that any county will be able to bring in overseas players exclusively for it.

The 40-over competition is also no more with the format changing back (again!) to 50 overs. There is no reason to think that Northamptonshire will not be competitive in the Royal London One Day Cup.

If the bookmakers are to be believed a tougher task will be staying in Division One, let along mounting a Championship challenge. Northamptonshire's two previous seasons in the top flight in 2001 and 2004 saw the side return immediately to Division Two. It will be very tough but if the spirit of last season can be recaptured I am convinced that the team can at the very least make a fight of it. Here's to a successful 2014!



The opinions expressed by the authors of articles in this newsletter do not necessarily reflect those of the editor or Northamptonshire County Cricket Supporters Club.



The Steelbacks were triumphant at the annual motor racing challenge against the Cobblers and Saints at a foggy Silverstone in mid-December. The team comprised Steven Crook, Ben Duckett, James Middlebrook, Phil Rowe and Alex Wakely. In addition to the Team Award Alex Wakely took the award as fastest driver.


One additional fixture that Northants will be playing in 2014 will be a friendly against Durham MCCU. This three-day match at the Durham Racecourse ground commences on Monday 5 May.


Northampton-born spinner Graeme Swann announced his retirement from all cricket just before Christmas, midway through the Ashes series. Swann played 60 Tests for England having made his debut in 2008.


Former Northamptonshire left-arm seam bowler David Lucas has agreed to cancel his contract with Worcestershire, ending his career. This follows the county informing him that his first team opportunities would be minimal in 2014. Lucas left Northants in 2012 having previously played for Nottinghamshire and Yorkshire.


Another fixture has been added to Northamptonshire's 2014 schedule. On Thursday 31 July the County will face New Zealand 'A' in a one day match at the County Ground. This match forms part pf the Kiwis build up to a triangular series also featuring Sri Lanka 'A' and England Lions. N.B. This tournament will be played at Bristol, Worcester and Taunton.


Northants Cricket and the University of Northampton have signed a local sports partnership. In addition to the University logo appearing on the Steelbacks shirts the two organisations will work closely on community engagement projects.


Former Northamptonshire, Yorkshire and England all-rounder Graham Stevenson has died at the age of 58. Stevenson played the bulk of his career with his native county but joined Northants for the 1987 season appearing in the tourist match against Pakistan at Manor Fields, Bletchley and the limited overs match against Lancashire at Tring scoring 21 and taking 4-55. For England he appeared in 2 Tests and 4 ODIs between 1980 and 1981.


Northants have announced their pre-season friendlies which will follow the tour of Barbados. The team will        be at Trent Bridge on 27th and 28th March to face Nottinghamshire. On 1st April they will take on Leicestershire at Grace Road before facing the same opponents at the County Ground the following day. The final match will be a three-day friendly against Yorkshire at the County Ground commencing on 8th April. County Ground entrance to these matches will be free.


All rounder David Willey declined the opportunity to enter the IPL auction in order to continue his recovery from back injury. New overseas signing Jackson Bird was involved in the auction as were Steven Crook and Mohammad Azarullah. However none of the trio were signed up.


According to Sky Bet Northamptonshire are the rank outsiders for the County Championship title this year. The side were recently quoted as 25/1. Nottinghamshire and Durham were joint favourites at 4/1.


Alex Wakely has signed a new two-year deal with Northants Cricket. Wakely is of course One Day Captain and Vice Captain in the County Championship.


The AGM of Northamptonshire County Cricket Club will take place at 6pm on Thursday 27 March. The venue will be the Thompson Suite at the County Ground.


Northants Cricket have had their plans for a new 900 seat permanent stand approved by Northampton Borough Council. The new stand will replace the temporary 1200 seater adjacent to the Indoor Cricket School.


Former Northamptonshire bowler Richard Dawson has been appointed Second XI coach by Yorkshire. Dawson also played for Gloucestershire as well as his native Yorkshire and has left his role as bowling coach with the former to take on his new job.



2014 marks the centenary of the start of World War One. Many young men and many cricketers lost their lives or were severely injured during the four-years of battles and conflict which ended in November 1918.

Tommy Askham was less than three weeks away from his 20th birthday when he was killed in action near Mailly-Maillet, France on 21 August 1916 during the Battle of the Somme.

Askham was born in Wellingborough on 9 September 1896. Hi parents kept the Crown Inn which then stood in Market street.

Tommy attended Wellingborough School. As well as cricket he excelled at athletics and was a very useful inside-right in the football team. Additionally he was a School Prefect and an active member of the Debating Society.

His debut for the School XI came in 1912.Wisden described him as “an exceptional boy cricketer who met with astonishing success as a bowler and is a fine bowler.” He made five first-class appearances for Northamptonshire during the 1914 season, several of these actually taking place after war had been declared.

His final Northamptonshire appearance came in the last County Championship match of 1914 – against Lancashire at Old Trafford which ended on the last day of August.

Although there was no county cricket in 1915 the schools did continue to play. Askham enjoyed what was to prove his schools cricketing swan song scoring 526 runs (including 149 against Dulwich College) and taking 62 wickets.

In October 1915 Askham joined the Suffolk Regiment instead of taking up a scholarship to Cambridge University. He was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the 9th Battalion and sent to the Western Front in 1916.

In August his battalion moved to occupy the trenches in front of the Mailly-Maillet Wood in the Albert section of the Somme. It was there, on August 21st 1916 that he was killed in action.

He is one of the 72,198 casualties commemorated at the Thiepval Memorial in northern France where a major ceremony is held each year on 1 July.

Tommy's brother Willie (William), a Captain in the Army Cyclist Corps also died during the War. He was 23 when he died in April 1918. (He too was a cricketer – appearing in Wellingbrough School's 1911 XI.)

One of Tommy Askham's Wellingborough School contemporaries was Don Denton, younger brother of the twins Billy and Jack who both played for Northamptonshire. Don was born at Rushden on 21 October 1896.

An extremely promising schoolboy cricketer Denton appeared in four County Championship matches in 1914 as well as for Public Schools against MCC at Lord's.

Whilst serving as a lieutenant in the Royal West Kents in France in 1917 Don was badly wounded and lost part of his right leg.

Despite this extreme handicap he practised with his brothers, overcoming his disabilty to such an extent that he was included in the Northamptonshire side to play Leicestershire at the County Ground in 1919.

Denton's comeback had been scheduled for the Northants' previous match – their first post-war match against Lancashire at the County Ground. Prior to this match the Club wrote to Lancashire to ask if Denton could have a runner. The Red Rose response was “If any fellow has been to the war and has had his leg off and wants to play he is good enough for me and can have twenty runners.”

In all he made three post-war appearances – the final one being against Sussex at the County Ground in 1920 when he made 37, sharing a partnership of 131 with Fanny Walden (111).

Don Denton died on 23 January 1961 in Higham Ferrers.

Two other Northamptonshire cricketers were killed during the First World War.

James Ryan was born at Roade in 1892. A Captain in The King's (Liverpool Regiment) 1st Battalion he died at Loos in September 1915. He is buried at Cambrin Military Cemetery in Pas de Calais, France. An amateur cricketer his eight County Championship matches for Northamptonshire came between 1911 and 1914.

Charles Tomblin a professional batsman born at Brixworth in 1891. A corporal in the Northamptonshire Regiment he was killed in France on 1 June 1918, leaving a widow Catherine  at Walgrave.  He is buried in Sissonne British Cemetery at Aisne, France. He had played two County Championship matches in 1914



The First World War brought to an end a relatively successful period in the history of Northamptonshire CCC. Having entered the County Championship in 1905 the side had finished as runners-up just seven years later. Although 1914 saw them finish in a more modest 9th position they still finished in credit with seven matches won as opposed to six lost.

It is fitting that one of the star performers of the year was George Thompson who scored 1047 runs and took 79 wickets in the County Championship. Thompson's regular bowling partner 'Bumper' Wells claimed 78 wickets. The other major all round performer was Sydney Smith who scored most runs (1193) and took most wickets (99). The only other batsman to score over a thousand runs was Bob Haywood (1015).

Of these major performers Thompson was past his best by the time first-class cricket returned in 1919 whilst Smith had emigrated to New Zealand. Smith was actually named in the 1915 Wisden as one of their Cricketers of the Year. He died in Auckland in 1963.

Haywood hit a club record 8 centuries in 1921 but appeared only infrequently after that season having accepted a coaching job at Fettes School in Scotland. The Club were unable to raise the money to keep him in Northamptonshire full time.

Highlights of the 1914 season included an innings victory over Gloucestershire at the County Ground with Wells and Thompson bowling unchanged to dismiss the visitors for 88 in their first innings. Thompson and Smith repeated this feat in the return match at Bristol as Gloucestershire were bowled out for 79 to lose by 143 runs.

Lancashire were also beaten by an innings at Northampton with Haywood (139) easily the top scorer in the match for either side. Somerset also lost by an innings at the County Ground inside two days.

Derbyshire became the fourth side to lose by an innings at Northampton in July with Thompson (11 wickets and 70 runs). N.B. Jim Horsley took 5-77 for the visitors – no relation I think!

Against Sussex at Hove in a drawn match Northamptonshire ran up 557-6 declared which was for many years their highest total. Smith (177) top scored.

The victory over local rivals was by a much smaller margin – just 4 runs. The visitors had led by 93 runs on first innings. At 100-8 it looked like Northants would suffer an easy defeat but then Smith (74) and Wells (39*) added 76 for the 9th wicket. Leicestershire, with a batsman absent – A T Sharp who had joined his regiment, collapsed to 79 all out with Thompson taking 5-39. (This gained revenge for a heavy defeat at Aylestone Road, Leicester when Sam Coe had hit an unbeaten 252.)

Northamptonshire defeated Essex by 156 runs at the County Ground in mid-August after War had been declared. Both Thompson (124*) and Wells (119 – his highest innings) hit centuries in this match.

That proved to be the last pre-war victory. The final day of the final County Championship match of the season was 31 August at Old Trafford, Manchester.

Even before the final match had taken place an earlier one – against Somerset at Taunton had been cancelled due to the War It was to be five long years before county cricket returned. Sadly for many cricketers and many other young men they would not.




There must be more to life than this

Said the bat to the cricket ball

In Summer we are beaten

In Winter do nothing at all


They unzipped the bag and crept away

The pavilion was dark and cold

There was no one about, so they went outside

It was soft and white and cold


What is this stuff? Wailed the freezing bat

Let's go back inside

The grass has gone and players too

Get back in the bag and hide.


So they hid away till April came

And blinked in the warm Spring sun

We won't ever come out again they said

Until the Winter's done.






When the news of Graeme Swann's retirement reached me, my first thought was, that's typical

of him. Never a shrinking violet, never half hearted, he has retired from all cricket during what has turned out to be one of English cricket's most difficult tours.

The reasons given seemed reasonable considering the problems his elbow injury had caused,

and better to make a clean break. than struggle on below full fitness.

However, in the context of the team's difficulties and parlous position in the series, the retirement

looked less wise. The Ashes had gone, but there were two tests which might have rescued

England's reputation and transformed the tour and the future. The superb bowling which had

cemented Graeme's place among the great spin bowlers of test cricket surely could not have

deserted him completely.As a senior player his positive and jaunty presence would surely have

been instrumental in reviving the team's fast fading prospects of making a fight of the rest of theseries.

I find it impossible to make a personal judgement of Graeme's action. I had a dream he would

return to his native county when his test days were over. Now I imagine a media career is his

most likely future activity. He has been a lively interviewee, commented while playing, cohosted

a radio show with James Anderson, and has Alec to consult about newspaper reporting.

Perhaps we'll finally see him speaking at a supporters' club lunch?




It was 2009 when Warwicks' were here at Wantage Road for a Sunday game, in the late Summer. The Bears had a short term pro' for the rest of the season's games, from a certain country, who used to open the bowling for his Test Team. His first three balls, in his first over, were all wides. Even I never managed that. I hear he has been in jail and is now banned for life (IPL the cause I believe). Cannot give a name for legal reasons. Does not take a lot of looking up though.

Later in the game a certain player from the same side fell over, flat on his face, on the bowling crease, twice in one over. Funny that eh? I never matched that either. I have also been told certain people have been asked to leave the ground here with mobile 'phones, more recently, there is a time lapse between here and somewhere else of 7 seconds, time to press a gambling button?

Non league football has also been implicated, and snooker. Horse racing... don't let me go there. Can we watch any sport in confidence in future? How about cycling? Athletics? Boxing? There will be a lot of scope in darts. Or am I being cynical?







Thursday 27 March



To book on a Lunch please call Linda Fisher on 07989844171. Price £11.50




Thursday 10 April



I enjoyed reading Michael Wells' two articles in the November issue of West Stand Story. I do have to take issue though on a couple of points. Winning the second division championship in 2000 does not really count as “silverware”. We were in that league because we were not good enough to be in the first division.

I have not been to a Twenty/20 final. We got “silverware” there, at Edgbaston, because in theory, we beat everybody else. I would imagine there is a strange atmosphere as most of the crowd are not really supporting any of the teams, and most of the losing semi finalists and supporters will have cleared off into the gathering gloom early in the evening. I wonder if drink had anything to do with most of the crowd and the way they amused themselves?

“Rea Bank?” they stopped calling it that just after the war (well perhaps a bit later?) The Rea is a ditch behind the new Eric Hollies Stand. I last went there in 2009 to see the test against Australia. There were two sets of Jumbo Jet Aussies. All wearing yellow shirts and caps. Merv Hughes seemed to be escorting one of the parties (he's put on a few pounds); one in the polite end and the other in the Hollies' with our mob. To see and hear the banter between supporters defied belief. Imagine 3 or 4 thousand supporters from the England side standing up and pointing at the Aus' fans and breaking into song, to the tune of The Beatles' “Yellow Submarine” “You all live a penal colony, a penal colony, a penal colony” Even the players were laughing. (there was also a song about Matilda .. and the Billabong...we won't go there...) The Aussie supporters replied with “Ozzie Ozzie Ozzie oi! oi! oi! Inventive mob aren't they?

At one point an Australian fan seemed to have had enough. He draped his flag over his shoulders and ran up to the England crew, one England fan wrapped his St George's flag around himself and they met half way and grabbed hold of each other. I thought “where are the stewards, there will be trouble here?” It was OK though, the two blokes started kissing. Only cricket.


PS Talking of Eric Hollies, he was the bowler who got Sir Donald Bradman out for a duck in his last Test Match, preventing him from getting a Test average of 100. Hollies though, I am told, was the worse ever County batsman, up there with a certain Nobby Clark. Guess who he played for? We were not very good then. Actually we were the worst!

Editor's Note: Nobby Clark's first-class career batting average was 6.25. Eric Hollies's was exactly 5. Jim Griffiths had an average of 3.33!



10 APRIL 2014 AT 7.PM


  1. 1.      APOLOGIES





Thursday 30 January




Thursday 27 February




Thursday 27 March



To book on a Lunch please call Linda Fisher on 07989844171. Price £11.50




In the next edition of West Stand Story we will give details of the date and time of the 2014 Supporters Club AGM. We are hoping to repeat the arrangement of 2013 when we staged our AGM immediately after that of the parent Club. But we will confirm this nearer the time.



The Supporters Club would like to say a big THANK YOU to Paul Baker of Watford (Herts) who has kindly donated a number of cricket publications to us. These include various Wisden Cricketers' Almanacks, benefit brochures, yearbooks and magazines. The Chairman and I collected this 'horde' in late November. Thank you again Paul.



Another job for our the Chairman and I was to get our shed ready for the rigours of winter (as best we can). This has involved re-covering the roof and giving the exterior woodwork a new coat of preserver. This work was achieved over two weekends in November.



As in previous years the Supporters Club will again be looking to run coach trips to away matches. However, as I have said before, we can only do this with your support. The 2014 Fixture list includes a number of instances where the first day of a Championship match falls on a Sunday and where a T20 match takes place on a Friday night. These offer a number of opportunities to run coaches and it would be nice to think that we can do this.



Tom Curran, the 18 year-old son of  former Northamptonshire all-rounder Kevin Curran who tragically died in October last year, has signed a new deal with Surrey which will see him join their staff full time when his education is complete. Tom played in the Memorial Match held for his father which took place at the County Ground last July.