Blue Ball cricket in the early 1980′s was a pretty casual affair made up from an eclectic mix of individuals from Cambridge and surrounding villages. Pete Brauer was captain though we always called him Pete “Man” because when he first turned up to play when asked his name replied “Its Pete, man.” He skippered for quite some time as he was the only bloke sensible enough to co-ordinate 11 people to play. This was pre-mobile phone times so it wasn’t so easy to get hold of enough players. Many of us had previously played for the Panton Arms as well as the Blue Ball, but the Panton team folded following a falling out with the new landlord. Pete, the landlord of the Blue Ball at the time was much more pleasant, unless that is someone mentioned that he was the spitting image of the Greene King Abbott pictured on the beer pump. That usually sent him into one.
Someone from the team managed to pinch the Panton kit bag which included some paper thin pads with no straps, two old Jumbo cricket bats, some old white batting gloves with those green knobbly bits on the back and the wicket-keepers kit included some sawn off batting pads and a pair of thick oven gloves. Most games were played on a wednesday evening either on Parker’s Piece or at Emmanuel. Occasionally we also played on the fabulous strip at Clare and on Sundays at Trumpington Rec or at the beautiful ground at Jesus, where the team photo was taken. One highlight of the year was that we always played King’s College groundstaff on a temporary strip on the lawn between King’s Bridge and the Backs. Little James, who worked at Trinity Punts would tie up behind the bowlers arm so we could retrieve the ball when it landed in the river. I (Chris Allan) particularly remember scoring my first hundred in a game against Cambridge Sri Lankans. I scored 132 in a twenty over game, batting number 10 when we were 30 odd for 8. This was my only hundred for nearly 20 years.
We also played teams such as Robert Sayle’s, who were always amusing in that they tried to retain their shop floor hierachy even on the pitch. Mr this and Mr that. We played the Cokenach Estate team, NAIB, New Chesterton Institute, Fulbourn Institute, The Free Press and the British Antarctic Survey where curiously we always got ice cream for tea.
Other players at the time included Stuart Duncan, A Scotsman who ran gangs of oat pullers in the summer months so could always be relied on to drag some poor Polish chap along if we were short of fielders. Ben Travers played when he wasn’t on his barge on the Canal du Midi. Nod or Noddy, who lived on a boat near Sutton Gault always turned out with his dog as did Tom who lived in a house near the telescopes on Pembertons Cantaloupe Farm estate. A chap called Phil, who worked for NIAB on Huntingdon Road was our excellent wicket keeper and could often be relied on to bring his brother along if we were short of good batting. Jem who lived on Trumpington High Street, imported triumph motor cycles from Arizona and bowled like the wind. Bill Rusted, the old Perse headboy occasionally would turn out for us as would Tony Gittins who always arrived with a brown leather suitcase dressed up as Harold Larwood. Luckily, he could also bowl like Larwood so we had a pretty decent team for a decade or more.
An evening game with a cycle back to the Blue Ball afterwards for a few beers and a chat was always a joy in those days. ” Did you hear Geoffrey bloody Archer on Desert Island this morning saying he was captain of Granchester 3rd XI. Idiot, they don’t even have a second XI any more”. Of course it never rained back then and was always blisteringly hot when we played.. or has my memory finally gone!
Chris Allan (Now of Barley Cricket Club)
Editor’s Note: Can anyone name the players in this photograph? Please email in your responses.