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Based in the leafy suburb of Merton Park, the Old Rutlishians Cricket Club offers one of the best membership packages in the whole of South London. To join, click here

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History

The Cricket Section, one is proud to relate, is the senior Old Rutlishians’ Association section now in existence although the ‘Rutlish Old Boys’ (as the association was first known) were holding meetings two or three years before either the Association or the football and cricket sections were formed. However the Athletic Section did not come into existence as a section until the early 1930’s whereas the Association Football Section was formed in 1907 closely followed by the cricket section in 1908 who in turn were followed by the Tennis Section.

It appears from the date of the inception of the section to the outbreak of the first World War there are no records of any sort available as to results of games played and achievements of section members. According to an earlier pamphlet entitled ‘Foundation and History’ prepared by D.C.Truckett (‘Trucks’) in 1950, the first games of the section were played on the school field, (Nursery Road) whilst the football section rented a pitch on Haydons Road Recreation Ground. Later it would seem the cricket section also rented a pitch there as Sinclair in the 1937 Year Book wrote ‘In the meantime each summer saw the Cricket XI spring to vigorous life on Haydons Road Recreation Ground.’

Some of the older members writing in year books have stressed the earlier difficulties of starting sections as cricket and football, pointing out that clubs already well-established and with good facilities had already grabbed their really class players. They pointed out that by encouraging the First XI schoolboys to join the sections and then keeping them when they became ‘real’ old boys, teams of first class material were gradually welded together. In view of the magnificent team spirit apparent in the members prior to the first World War, there is little doubt that the Cricket section would have advanced rapidly. Unfortunately the outbreak of war cut progress short. Most of the members went off to war whilst the Association folded up, leaving all its records and finances in the capable hands of Mr A.N Disney.

During 1914-1918 the Association and all its kindred activities were brought to an abrupt, but happily only temporary, end. In 1919 those members of the ‘Rutlish Old Boys Association’ who still lived in the Merton area set to in order to discuss the revival of the association; this revival duly took place with the name of the association being changed to the ‘Old Rutlishians’ Association’. The cricket section in 1921 once again ‘sprang to life’ with advent of summer, the person mainly instrumental in the resurrection being A.S Davidson who, as soon as he realised what he had done, sailed East to the British Legation, Bangkok, from where in 1922 he wrote for the benefit of the Association a news letter which was reprinted in full in the 1922-23 year book. The first skipper after the war was B.J.Call with Duncan Lofthouse as Vice-skipper and A.C.R Hill taking over that most onerous of all honorary positions, Section Secretary.

The inter-war years
It is from 1921 onwards when the first of the annual year books was published that our records become more complete, especially as Stan Dobson, who took over the job of Cricket Secretary in 1922, was keeping an O.R.A. scrapbook. The keeping of a scrapbook luckily became an association institution right up until May, 1945 and from these records numerous little points of interest have been gleaned.

From the re-birth of the section in 1920 it is a tale of steady progress particularly in the matter of fixtures and also up to a point in the aspect of members. Whilst on the question of membership it might be worthwhile pointing out that in 1921 when the Association was in the region of 100 the Cricket Section fielded one eleven and during 1907-14 when the Association membership was possibly smaller, it had always managed to turn out an eleven. In 1924 the section started a second eleven out of an association membership of something in the region of 400, whilst in 1931 a third eleven came into existence (this with an association membership of about 550). It was in 1924 also that another milestone in the section history was reached – at long last they started to play on their own ground instead of a rented pitch.

It is perhaps in the matter of playing strength that the greatest advance was made. In 1921 and 1922 the eleven was playing teams of the calibre of Merton III against whom in 1922 ‘Horry’ Bennett took 4 wickets in 4 balls. By a most strange coincidence the next time such a feat was performed it was also against Merton, but this time it was against their 1st XI, by John Bax in 1955 (he however went a little further by taking 5 wickets in 7 balls). From 1922 until 1926 it is noticed that the Old Boys 1st XI opponents were generally the 2nd XI’s of the stronger club sides. 1927 onwards the opposition played is generally stronger; each year right up to 1939 showing a slightly stronger fixture list, until at the latter date the Old Boys had a list that included the 1st XI’s of Roehampton, Barnes, Wallington, Streatham, Banstead, Ealing Dean, Indian Gymkhana, Hampton Wick, Malden Wanderers etc.

The war years
By the outbreak of war in 1939 the Association was in a position strong enough to withstand to a very large extent the vicissitudes of war with the help of course of the untiring efforts of such loyal members of the Association as Reg Platt, Tommy Coysh, Arthur Freshwater, ‘Tucks’ Tuckett, Don Luffman and last but by no means least Norrie Ellison. These stalwarts managed to keep most activities going during the war years and it really was a wonderful relaxation for anyone lucky enough to come home on leave to pay a visit to the club-house. Those members who so wished could always participate in a game of rugger or cricket over the weekends, although usually they would find they hardly knew another member of their team. Such teams always contained a high percentage of guest players and the writer can remember on a leave being requested about two or three hours before the game started to skipper one of these sides. On meeting the team I was amazed to find that I knew only one other member of the team and that was guest player Edgar Goodens of Merton C.C.

The post-war years
After the war it was a case of starting all over again, with a fixture list that was not quite as strong as pre-war. At this time the section was lucky enough to have such ‘old’ stalwarts as Charles Gale, Peter Breed, Basil Ericson, Alan Swann, Ernie Blake, Lew Kemp, all of whom in addition to turning their hand to the administrative side, turned out in various teams. At that time ‘Morry’ Almond was Chairman, Charles Gale, skipper and Basil Ericson secretary.


Since that time fixtures have again been improved gradually and are now back to the strength of the 1939 fixture list. During this period fixtures were arranged with Folkestone and Hythe for two or three years in order to give the section a weekend tour; the matches usually being Folkestone all day Friday and Hythe all day Saturday. It was a great pity that due to lack of support this innovation was allowed to lapse, as we enjoyed some really grand games – who, having seen it, will ever forget Bertie Booth’s 97 on the Folkestone county ground! In addition to this, occasional mid-week fixtures were arranged but these also have been dropped. One of the fixtures that springs to mind was against Horsham on the county ground there, where Basil Ericson played the opponents bowling whilst the rest of the team was simply poking around; at the finish Horsham were hanging on grimly for a draw.

In an Association such as ours where membership was restricted, the sections were quite often badly hit by experienced players leaving the neighbourhood for business reasons. Naturally enough one rarely reads of the return of such players. As the Association couldn’t recruit from outside, even if it wanted to, the loss of such players was felt more by teams such as ours than by other clubs who often found the loss of players was made up by the recruitment of an experienced man who had recently moved into the district. One is inclined to ponder, when in reminiscent mood, as to the strength of the cricket section at certain periods, if various members had not left the Merton Park area. When thinking on these lines various names spring to mind immediately, ‘Swev’ Evans (one who returned to the fold), Peter Francis, George Westbrook, Tony Billinghurst, the late J.R.K.Scott(‘Scottie’), Stan Peters (who made a most successful comeback after World War II) and Ron Richardson.

The Merton Charity Games normally appeared to have been graced with the presence of at least one O.R. and as often as not more than one. So far as can be ascertained, they never disgraced the Association and on a number of occasions in fact did extremely well. In addition to being represented at such games, members of the section carried the O.R.A. colours for the Surrey Association of Cricket Clubs selected teams (Dennis Lutman and John Bax being our representatives) at Club Cricket Conference trials, the above two plus Geoff Standish and Les Richardson having been chosen at times to represent the Surrey C.C.C. clubs – the last named admited, under pressure, that he came in as a last minute substitute, when finally Dennis Lutman became the first member of the section to represent the Club Cricket Conference; this he did in 1950 and 1951 and put up some most creditable performances. In 1952 Geoff Standish also played for a Conference representatives XI.

At this stage in such a short history one feels it is time to start quoting statistics which always play such an important part when commenting on the game of cricket. The difficulty is to know where to start and what to leave out. It is evident that one cannot mention the records for every year and consequently only a few outstanding seasons are quoted, together with either exceptional individual averages and/or performances.

The best individual performance that springs to mind is that of Charles Gale. It is not a single performance or even two or three performances, but one of hundreds of performances. Charles left Rutlish in 1922 and started to play for the Cricket Section in 1923. Year in and year out he played for the 1st XI and sat on the cricket committee; in 1946 when the section started after the war, he skippered the 1st XI and continued to play for the first team until in 1951 he felt it was time to drop down to the second XI, to whom he rendered yeoman service. Charles then went on to umpire, when he could find the necessary time, and in addition consented to act as Section Treasurer for a number of seasons. What a wonderful record of service.


The modern era
The club first considered league cricket when the Surrey Championship was formed in the 1960's but this did not have the support of the majority of the members. In 1972, however, with many old opponents going into leagues, the club finally joined the newly formed Surrey County League. In the first season we were runners up. Several players then retired and the rest of the 1970s was a struggle with the club bumping along the bottom of the league and struggling to turn out Sunday sides.

It was against this background that John Morley and Jim Gilby, amongst others, started regular Friday night nets for schoolboys. This began to pay dividends with players coming through from the school again. One of the highlights of the season used to be the matches between the Old Boys and the School, four fixtures played across the age groups followed by a buffet back at the club. Sadly the advent of league cricket and a full league fixture list on Saturdays ended this tradition.



Steadily the league performances improved, the club managing a highpoint in the 80s when putting out 8 teams on a Saturday! About this time the club hit a peak with a string of fine performances. We won the League Cup in 1985 and again in 1986 (before some memorable nights of celebration). The club also reached the Decca Cup final stage at the Oval in 1987 and in 1991. Notable names of this period were the two Keenes, Lance & Perry along with Zeddy Zediq and Chris Boiling who went on to earn full county honours.

After the reconstitution of the league structure in Surrey we applied and were elected to join the Surrey Championship Division. Not long later the first XI gained promotion to Division. In one of our best seasons we just missed out on promotion to the very top division. However, sadly, after highs there are often lows and after several players left and retired the first XI ended up being relegated.

Recent Success
Luckily, the story does not end there and the last few years have seen the return of great success to the Ruts. In 2006 the Second XI, led by Kevin Foster, returned to the Surrey Championship after a few years in the Fullers League. Having discovered a taste for promotion, they followed this up with promotions in the Surrey Championship in 2007 and 2008, hitting the giddy heights of the third division of the Championship as they enter 2009. Under the captaincy of Lance Keene, 2009 saw the Second XI promoted for the fourth consecutive season into Surrey Championship Division 2. The team has prospered ever since with consistent team performances, especially under the leadership of Peter Day and 2013 sees a new innovative venture with two young skippers taking the reins, namely Daniel de Leon and Jon Mapp.


The success of the Second XI appeared to galvanise the First XI. Not to be outdone and ably led by Sal Mohammed, the Firsts matched the Seconds by gaining promotion in 2007 and 2008 and entered 2009 in the third division of the Surrey Championship. Excellent performances were regularly supplied by Sandeep Ganguly, the skipper Mohammed alongside the youth of Steven Dolben, Sonny Cooper and Joe Riches.

The third XI still seek the consistency to challenge for promotion but have a good recent record in the tough second division of the Third XI’s league in the Championship, regularly finishing in top 6 positions. In 2009 the Third XI gained promotion to the Surrey Championship Division 1 and were three points off promotion to the Premier League in 2010. Commendations throughout this period should go to Wilf Thom, who led the side with great enthusiasm and drive. This team is where the stars of tomorrow learn their trade and much emphasis is placed here. Nasir Sayed takes on the challenge of promotion after the league reshuffle of 2012.

The fourth XI, after many years of playing friendlies, joined the Wey Valley League in 2006 and won the league. Lance Keene took over the side and led from the front scoring 151 in a memorable game at West End Esher. The side saw youth meet experience with many of the “old boys” passing on their skillsets to the up and coming colts section. After that, they became founder members of the new Surrey Championship Fourth XI league. A further sign of promise was the regular return of the Saturday 5th XI in 2005. We hope that this will continue and maybe, somewhere in the future, we will look to field a 6th XI! Not sure we'll get back to the days of putting out eight teams on a Saturday but it's a start.

As explained above, the club was originally for ex-members of Rutlish School and for many years the cricket teams featured a predominant number of old boys. However, a reduction in the number of school leavers coming to join the club, later worsened when the school lost it's sixth form, the cricket section widened its membership criteria and admits a large number of non-ex-Rutlishians'. The bulk of our players are still Ruts but we won't turn away new blood.

The club has placed great emphasis on increasing the number of young players produced since the late 1990s with the formation of the Colts section. Officially launched in 1996, a handful of kids playing Kwik cricket has subsequently evolved into our current Colts section of over 350 members, many of whom play for the adult Ruts. In 2006 our Development team won the Surrey Development League Plate Final against Purley at Beddington, quite an achievement for a club down in the pecking order of clubs within the Surrey Championship, a strong indication of our development and reliance on young up-and-coming players.

2012 saw the realisation of a dream. Under the captaincy of Sonny Cooper, the club defeated all comers and won the Surrey Trust League at Chessington CC, defeating a spirited East Grinstead side. This brought about an “All-England” Grand Final against the winners of the Kent Trust League, Blackheath CC. Against a well drilled Kentish outfit, the Ruts came up short however the club saw record numbers watching lining the boundary with Sunday cricket revellers, perhaps imitating the wonderful summers of pre war cricket detailed above. 




2013 saw the club complete its most successful season on the pitch with the First, Third, and Surrey Trust XI's taking centre stage. The First XI secured promotion back to Division 3 of the Surrey Championship after spending a couple of seasons in Division 4. Added to this, the Third XI went one better and finished as champions of their division. Both young and old combined to make this achievement possible and was many players' first taste of silverware. Following on from 2012’s groundbreaking achievement of winning the Surrey Trust League, the team went into the season with one aim in mind – retaining it. And retain it they did! After comprehensively winning all six of their group games and overcoming Streatham & Marlborough in the semi-final playoff, the boys successfully defended a below par score with a strong bowling performance against Valley End CC to get the club name etched on the trophy for a second consecutive year.