A Review of the 1985 Season

For me the 1985 Season will always be remembered for the day Chingford came up against the man destined to become the Best Batsman in the World.

It was on overcast day, a wet wicket and a Bertie Joel Cup Tie against Ilford with Chingford’s bowling attack comprising Bill Birch, Mike Higgs, Michael Blake, Frank Beckles and Steve Howe.I remember one Steve Waugh coming into bat with a floppy hat taking guard saying “2 thanks Ump”. At the time no-one knew who he was, other than he had just been selected for the Australia U21 squad. We had never seen anything like it as after 31 balls he had smacked all of us for 113 runs with balls disappearing over the houses in Victoria Road before Bill Birch finally bowled him.  Such was the reaction following the game that the match was featured in a 2 page article in the Sun – and I still have a copy ! A quirk of the Fixture list saw Ilford return to Forest Side a few weeks later when Dave Wilson dismissed him for 5 – caught in the slips by Richard Alston before he could do any further damage to the local houses!

For the first time in years our 1st Eleven acquired the tag “hard to beat” but we lacked that vital killer touch to finish off the opposition. As a result potential wins became draws and this reflected in a very disappointing League placing at the end of the season.

The new-found steel saw solid performances is the first three League games with no defeats, but significantly also no wins. This sequence looked set to end when some great bowling by Dave Wilson saw nine Buckhurst Hill wickets down - but that was as far as we could get and their last pair held on. Our best effort so far came in the clash with titlre challenging Gidea Park and Romford. Seamers Bill Birch and Michael Blake used a wet wicket to great effect and restricted Park to just 153-9. Chingford reached a solid 74-2 but did not have the time to force victory ending just 21 runs short.

The only hot Saturday of the year at Hadleigh saw Richard Alston smash 103 out of our 227-3 but our bowling wilted in the heat as our unbeaten record was surrendered. Dave Wilson then hit the form we all knew he was capable of as he snatched 6 wickets to limit Ilford to 175-9. Again we were within sight of victory through Beckles and Alston but finished 169-7. August was reached without a win following an abandonment at Walthamstow and a draw at Fives. A poor batting surface at Chelmsford saw us 15-5 and 60 all out and crash by 9 wickets. Finally a win was secured in our next match at Old Brentwoods thanks to 3 wickets apiece from Bill Birch and Steve Miell and 39 from Richard Alston. A five wicket haul by Dave Wilson saw Loughton score just 166-8 but County bowler Don Topley proved a handful and we succumbed despite a sterling 40 from Graham Hainsby. A rain affected draw at Woodford Wells was followed by another near miss against Hutton who were 140-9 in reply to 177-9 at the close with Steve Miell and Paul Cross taking 3 wickets apiece. The season was wrapped up in contrasting style with a nine wicket defeat ar Orsett followed by a win over South Woodford with Graham Hainsby contributing an impressive 72.

Our 2nd Eleven under Jeff Runciman went from strength to strength culminating in a purple patch of 6 wins in 7 matches between July and September.At last we had a side capable of bowling sides out with ten of our opponents finishing all out. Great performances came from Fraser Lasrence(8-68 v South Woodford, 5-47 v Hutton and 5-23 v Old Brentwoods), Terry Dennehy (8-43 v Orsett , 6-33 v Loughton), Michael Blake (7-49 v Buckhurst Hill, 6-63 v Walthamstow), Paul Cross (5-27v Old Brentwoods) and Richard MacGregor whose tireless efforts rewarded his teammates bowling at the other end more often than himself. Richard did claim one notyable scalp, the future England Captain Nasser Hussain in the match at Ilford. The batting never let us down with Phil Joslin, John Woodland, Malcolm Swinfen, Paul Pritchard, Jeff Runciman, Graham Hainsby and Steve Hart all making vital contributions. In the end we were disappointed to finish 4th, but at least we had the consolation of being just 2 points behind the second placed club

In the Third Xis (Red and Blue) both teams shared the League duties equally and four games were won. Paul Hart had an excellent season with the ball and finished as the Club’s Leading wicket taker.

The weather reached new extremes with the 1st and 2nd Elevens’ second matches of the season against Hornsey both being abandoned die to SNOW on 27 April !

In order to counter the high level of postponements and an accumulation of moss in recent years the Committee authorised a “sand slitting “ exercise on the outfield, which entailed contractors drilling holes all over the outfield and then covering the whole field in sand. This was followed by a brushing machine that brushed the sand into the slits. To facilitate this work cricket at Forest Side was curtailed at the end of the League programme with the final weekend’s home fixtures being moved to the Jubilee Ground in The Avenue.