Coddington Cricket Club

Early Days
Cricket was probably played in Coddington from the earliest times of its popularity. Surprisingly, Rolph Vernon’s book about Coddington School in the Victorian Age makes no mention of any physical activities - nature walks, games or organised sports. Possibly the subject was not considered appropriate for the logbook, which was concerned with developing sound minds.
John and Edwin Mills, born in Coddington in 1855 and 1857, both grew up to be professional Players for Nottinghamshire Cricket Club. John Mills, father of 5 young children, appears on Rev Frederick Taverner’s sketch map of the village, living next to John Roberts on Post Office Row. The family must have left the village because they are absent from the 1861 village census.
John Mills grew up to be a joiner who lived most of his life in Wollaton. He played with the Wollaton and Lenton United Club, trying out for Nottinghamshire in 1875, but his career was cut short by an accident in 1881. He was a right-handed batsman and round-arm fast bowler. In the 1881 census 26-yr old John was living at home with his 60 yr old parents and six brothers and sisters.
Younger brother Edwin grew up to be a lace machine fitter, who first tried out for Nottinghamshire in 1878. He was a left-handed batsman and fast bowler, who played a total of 43 first class matches – for Bolton, Nottinghamshire and Surrey. From 1885-7 he worked on the ground staff at the Oval.
We know of at least one other professional cricketer from Coddington. In 1901 the Census records the presence of professional cricketer John T Walster aged 22, the eldest 'child' at home on census night, in the home of his parents, George and Mary Walster of Church Lane (now Chapel Lane).
We currently have no any information about the Thorpe Families views on sport, but (given their public school background, involvement with the Volunteer Regiments and the number of the sons entering the army) it seems likely that they would encourage village sports as patrons, even though they might not themselves take part.
Godfrey Tallents’ (of Coddington House, 1848 – 1917) preferred sport was rowing – he was associated with Newark Rowing Club throughout his life and was also an excellent shot. Hugh Tallents 1885-1978, Newark Town Clerk who lived at Farndon Lodge gave his recreations as hunting and shooting. However his brother, Colonel Godfrey Edward Tallents (1883-1967) who was wounded at Gallipoli, was for many years the President of Coddington Cricket Club. His obituary in the Newark Advertiser records that John Kirton represented the Cricket Club at his funeral.
From the 1930s - Coddington Choir Cricket Club
Initially drawn from the choirboys, Coddington Choir Cricket team soon also included boys from Coddington Youth Group. The village had a senior team for the more skilled older boys, but those working outside the village might be poached by their work teams and National Service took others away. The team was often left with eight or nine players in the middle of the season when haymaking and harvest interfered with the recreation of the majority.
Gill Burgess recalls her mother Lilly saying that in the 1930’s Coddington had a ladies cricket team. Here is an undated photo, taken from Drove Lane, with a view of the Church and Rose Cottage, Chapel Lane.
A July 1939 Newark Advertiser article tells us that Coddington CC scored 63 runs against Balderton Scouts 80 runs. The Coddington players in batting order were:
Harold Thompson, Robert Kelham, John Naylor, Patrick Hough, Eddie Thompson, Frank Daybell, Herbert Maltby, Harold Handbury, Thomas Vessey, Bert Coddington and Jimmy Wright – a very fast opening bowler. Other people who played in matches in August 1939 against Beckingham and Balderton were: - Fred Fixter, Frank Thompson, B. Thornhill, Tommy Ward, Charlie Henton, Reg Leader, Owen Taylor, Frank Daybell, E. Barks, and H. Barber.
The club first played on Hollingworth’s field, behind The Green. Peter Campion remembers a walnut tree on the pitch there - if you hit the tree when batting it counted as 2 runs. Peter only played for the senior team for a few years – he was called up for National Service in 1946 and he played for Newark teams on his return. He remembers the vicar Rev. Cyril Bulley (a brilliant, kind and enthusiastic man) starting the Youth group, the Cubs and the Scouts and encouraging all members to take part in sport – football, cricket, tennis etc.
Owen Taylor kept wicket for the senior team before Bernard Mastin. The umpires at the time were – George Roland Walster, Bernard Wilby and Bob Everett. Christine Usher (nee Handbury) was scorer for the Choirboys team and the seniors as a young woman. She recalls the teams playing on Hollingworth’s field behind The Green, before moving down Drove Lane to Geeson’s field (Cow Close, Hall Farm). The senior players were then Frank and Ted Daybell, Pat Hough, Bill Phillips, Arthur Bowman (opening bat), Jimmy Wright (fast bowler), Owen Taylor, a good all-round cricketer (Captain).
This picture shows a boy’s cricket team, either on Hollingworth’s field or Geeson’s field, Drove Lane – does anyone recognise the buildings?
Christine and others recall having tea on the pitch at Hollingworth’s field and at Drove Lane. Among the ladies who helped provide tea were: Mary Handbury, Annie O’Brian, Mary Mastin, Joyce Phillips, Doreen & Mary Tomlinson.
In the mid-1940’s, Maurice Leyland came to Coddington and played against the RAF. He autographed the scorebook (does anyone know where this or other score books may be?). Mavis Kirton has an old scorebook, from 1947 – 1953, which belonged to her husband Derek.
The team played 8 matches in 1947 - one was stopped due to rain.
In their first match of 1947, Coddington batted first, scoring 40 runs - Newark Parish, scoring only 15 runs, thanks to the excellent bowling of John Kirton who took 7 wickets for 5 runs. In the next match Christ Church scored 36 runs, but Coddington scoring only 15 (with seven players out for a duck), though John Kirton took 8 wickets for 13 runs.
In seven matches, John Kirton bowled 55 overs, taking 36 wickets for an average of 1.8 runs. Ray Vessey was their best batsman, however he only played in one game, making 26 runs not out. Tom Campion battled in all eight matches, for an average of 12.3.
 The team played 8 matches in 1948, winning five.
Once again, the best bowler was John Kirton, with 24 wickets for 54 runs. Tom Knott closely followed him at 26 wickets for 84 runs; Tom Campion was the best batsman, making 81 runs at an average of 13.5.
1949 – 1953
John Kirton and Tom Knott continued to bowl extremely well, and that the outstanding batsmen were Ken Maltby, Ron Walster and John Kirton.
Players in the Choir/Youth Group team:
David Andrew, Keith Bakin, Ken Bailey Derek Bowman, George Bradley, John & Tom Campion, Cyril Checkley, Keith Coalby, Charlie Fixter, Alan Geeson, Gordon Gibson, John and Terry Hallam, Richard Hall, Ken Hazard, Alan Heath, John Hollingworth, Colin Horton, Derick and John Kirton, Tom Knott, Vic Lale, Ken Maltby, Frank Oxley, Alan Rawlinson, Geoff Sleight, Colin Smith, Ray Smith, Ray Vessey, George Ward, John and Ronald Walster.
Several of these played for the senior team when they were old enough but many left the village team.
Players in the senior team over the years:
David & Mick Andrew, Ken Bailey, Arthur & Derek Bowman, Frank & Ted Daybell, Peter Campion, Charlie, Fred & John Fixter, Alan Geeson, Jack, Terry & John Hallam, Harold & Tony Handbury, Derek Kirby, Derek & John Kirton, Bernard Mastin, Bill Phillips, Ken Spicer, Owen Taylor, Edwin, Harold & Frank Thompson, Denis Thorpe, Fred Tomlinson, Derek Tysoe, Michael Usher, Jimmy & Tommy Wright.
John Hallam recalls that during his short time as a Coddington player (before 1953, after which as an apprentice he joined the Ransome & Marles team) he opened the bowling with Fred Tomlinson, under Captain Owen Taylor. The Drove Lane pitch had its problems! Before play could start they had to remove the electrified wire fence around the square, push a very large roller up and down the strip and mark up the lines. Mr Geeson used to graze his cattle in the outfield, so they had to be very careful where they trod! He remembers some wonderful games, with a wooden hut serving as changing room, pavilion and tearoom. The pitch had very little preparation in those days, but John remembers volunteers having to spread a very large lorry load of marl, by shovel and wheelbarrow!
The Balderton Lane Pitch
Mr Geeson’s field was sold to Charlie Wooliams, so the team needed a new pitch. It was set up on one of Frank Daybell’s fields on Balderton Lane (late 1950s?). Gill Burgess was the main scorer then and Colonel Edward (Teddy) Tallents (the club’s President for many years, who attended most matches) would give Gill a lift to the away-venues in his car. A wooden hut which served as a changing room, pavilion and tearoom can be seen in this photo:
Alan Geeson recalled that they often travelled by bicycle to away matches. Alan and Bernard Mastin both remember the 1950’s and late 1950s Coddington teams as excellent. Opponents included Weston, Sutton on Trent, Leadenham, Brant Broughton, and Kelham SSM. In the late 1950s Frank Daybell was captain, Owen Taylor vice captain - the opening batsmen were Bernard Mastin and Harold Handbury or Bill Phillips and Harold Thompson, with bowling stars John Kirton (spin) and  David Andrew (fast). Other team members were: Mick Andrew, Derek Tysoe, Derek Bowman and Derek Kirton. After Bernard Mastin retired from cricket Derek Bowman or Derek Kirton took over as wicket keeper.
Harold Thompson made 100 runs at Coddington against Beckingham & Derek Bowman made his 100 at Winkburn. Eva Handbury tells us that her Tony husband made 50 runs on the Clumber Park pitch. Harold Handbury was a left hand batsman and right-handed bowler. Derick Kirton recalled the popular vicar, Michael Usher, "who lived at the Gables and was game for anything. He played cricket for the village, a very stylish batsman but only one problem he often missed the ball! He also missed choir practice if there was a match that night."
There was only one volunteer grounds man, Derek Kirby - Eva thinks that this was the reason the club dissolved. Terry Hallam was one of the members who on Boxing Day 1962 or 1963 prepared the wicket.
Of course some villagers were enthusiastic followers of the professional game. Charlotte Hackett recalls: “George Daybell’s wife was cricket mad and every summer when there was a match, no matter what was being done on the farm, she would get someone to take her to Trent Bridge and pick her up again at the end of the match.”
Others remember vivid incidents: Nancy Lamb recall: "The men played cricket on the on Drove Lane and Dad was once hit in the eye by a cricket ball and had to go to hospital. This had the children howling with terror."
The Club Revived
During the autumn of 2005, in the euphoria of England’s Ashes wins, Lee Parsons and friends at the Inn on the Green thought the time might be right to try to re-form Coddington Cricket Club. They launched a recruitment drive to assess local interest, and since then have recruited many players and secured a couple of shirt and sweater sponsorships for the club. Fund-raising activities have included: a huge family day – a successful wine tasting night, a couple of race nights and a Ceilidh. At the end of last summer (2008) they had completed their 3rd season.
The club is active all year round with social events throughout the year. In summer there are twice monthly friendly games played at Brant Broughton, and in winter they practice at the Indoor Cricket Centre in Grantham. They have recently introduced ‘Kwik Cricket Club’ aimed at local youngsters and involving Coddington C. of E. Primary School. They hope to development of a new pitch on Drove Lane in the near future. (Article initial date 12/02/09).
Coddington Cricket Club has its own website at
where you can find out a lot more about the club and its activities.
Sources for this article
The article is mainly based on oral histories (including those from Christine Usher, Eva Handbury, Gill Burgess, Bernard Mastin, Peter Campion, John Hallam, John Kirton, Mavis and Derick Kirton, Charlotte Hackett, Nancy Lamb and Steve Rowland)
CHG Oral History Team, assembled by Fred Reed and edited by Jackie Armstrong.