BENEFIT MATCH 1964
Since the 19th century a professional cricketer could be compensated for long service by playing special matches in a “benefit season” granted to him by his club and organized by a committee on his behalf. The player would receive all the profit from these matches.
The year 1964 was such a season for the cricketer Ken Barrington and one of his benefit matches was played in Effingham.
Kenneth Frank Barrington was a prominent cricketer for the Surrey County Cricket Club and for the England cricket team. In the 1960s he was living with his wife Ann at 19, Fowler Road in Mitcham.
The Surrey club decided that 1964 would be Barrington’s benefit season. One of the benefit matches they proposed was against Eastwick Park Cricket Club (EPCC) on their home ground, the King George V Playing Fields at Effingham. EPCC had been founded in 1960 and in 1962 began negotiating with the KGV Committee of Management (CoM) for a five-year agreement, as proposed initially, to make the playing fields their base and to construct a suitable cricket square there. These arrangements came formally into operation in 1963.
The club’s wish to hold a benefit match for Barrington in Effingham may have been made known to the CoM later that year, or perhaps not until early 1964. Whichever the case, at a meeting on April 2nd 1964 the CoM Secretary reported that he had received a long letter from the match organisers giving an outline of what was being planned. In particular there was an invitation to all the village organisations represented on the CoM to put in bids for sites for marquees where, if they were interested, they could secure reserved positions of advantage for their members. The match was to be held on 23rd August.
Ken Barrington photographed in 1966.
A good overview of how the match proceeded is given in a newspaper article published in the following week. An original clipping exists in the Barnes Wallis 80th Birthday Album but, now half a century old and much damaged by the underlying adhesive, is barely legible. A transcription of it is shown below.
SUNSHINE AND STARS
ATTRACT A 5,000 CROWD
Barrington benefit is £400
By CHRISTOPHER ROBINS
Celebrities clowned, signed autographs and cricketed. The crowds basked in the hot sunshine and adored their heroes at closer quarters than usual. And Ken Barrington received over £400.
The King George V Playing Fields, Effingham, were transformed on Sunday for a cricket match in aid of Ken Barrington’s benefit between two teams sparkling with stars from many walks of show biz.
The fields, which have no pavilion or other cricketing comforts, were blessed with collapsible lavatories, refreshment tents, seats, enclosures and people.
A crowd of 800 before lunch swelled to an estimated 5,000 at the height of the afternoon. They poured out of their cars in a steady stream with their picnic tables, chairs, knives and forks, their synthetic picnics, their dogs and their autograph-hunting children.
In the unaccountable summer clothes of the English, they watched, laughed, consumed tons of ice cream and slaked their thirsts in an ever-open beer tent.
They were given a commentary by Alan Curtis, television producer. During the afternoon amid his continual stream of wit and information he broadcast this message: “Calling Mrs. Steele. Tommy wants her in the dressing room.” The crowd went wild.
In an enclosure hopefully reserved for players and members, celebrities were confused with ordinary beings in the mad rush for autographs.
Doug Padgett, Ray Illingworth and John Hampshire from Yorkshire were unable to arrive on time and three players from Eastwick Park, the host club, substituted. When they came off the field one of them, Martin Warner, signed his autograph 12 times.
Eastwick Park Sunday skipper, Jim Berry was mistaken for Geoff Boycott, who was not actually present. Anyone in white who looked reasonably athletic, was a star.
The cricket was a mixture of fooling, chestnut tree strokes and patches of sheer skill. Eastwick Park President’s XI batted first and scored 296 before declaring.
They faced a barrage of slow bowling which enabled their opener John Edrich to score 58 in 35 minutes, Eric Bedser 53 in 25 minutes and John Smith of Eastwick Park 32 in 20 minutes.
The bowling was shared by Bobby Robson, Tony Fayne, Michael Willett, Tommy Steele, Ken Barrington, Ray Illingworth, John Hampshire and Jimmy Binks.
It was entertaining. Tommy Steele’s first delivery rolled gently to the batsman along the ground.
Later, he managed repeatedly to pitch the ball wide of and behind the leg stump. Twice wicket-keeper Arnold Long and leg slip Michael Willett had to get out of its way. On one occasion they threw themselves to the ground.
Tony Fayne, who incorporated a little side kick in his run up, bowled stylishly. After one of his deliveries had mysteriously shot under Eric Bedser’s bat a seasoned Eastwick Park spectator was heard to murmer: “Good old Effingham pitch playing up again.”
After the 200 was up, and just before Yorkshire wicket-keeper Jimmy Binks took over the bowling, an over-excited partisan in the players and members enclosure yelled: “Out with the new ball.”
But to no avail. The same ball was used for the slow deliveries tossed by the Eastwick Park XI to Ken Barrington’s XI.
Tommy Steele opened the batting with John Hampshire. Tommy was soon dealt with but not before he had clouted a doubly slow one from Micky Stewart for four.
The pattern was similar to the first innings, Doug Padgett knocked a quick 40, Ray Illingworth 57 in 35 minutes and Ken Barrington 102 in 51 minutes,
The bowling was shared by Micky Stewart, Eric Bedser – his brother umpired after tea – Martin Warner, Roger Harman, Ron Tindall, John Smith,
Peter Day, Mick Edwards, Jim Berry, Bill Smith and John Edrich. There was [sic] 13 men to a side.
When Ken Barrington came in, a gambling school developed. An anonymous syndicate offered two shillings for each of his sixes and the idea soon gained patronage.
Alan Curtis at the microphone was soon calling the odds, and about seven or eight pounds were eventually won for the benefit fund.
The match was easily won by Barrington’s XI, but no-one seemed to notice. The crowds were by this time mesmerised by the sun and their idols.
Mr Brian Downing, organising on behalf of Eastwick Park CC, said that the crowd and takings were some of the largest ever to support a benefit match. He was delighted with the response. On Tuesday he received a letter from the committee organising Ken Barrington’s benefit year congratulating him on his club’s achievement.
Eastwick Park President’s XI
Stewart st Long b Hampshire 21
Edrich c Willett b Illingworth 58
Edwards c Binks b Robson 2
Smith (B.) st Long b Steele 31
Bedser (E.) c Barrington b Steele 53
Tindall c Hampshire b Padget 35
Harman c Hampshire b Barrington 2
Day b Barrington 23
Luetchford not out 1
Smith (J.) b Barrington 32
Packer b Fayne 22
Berry c Barrington b Binks 10
Total for 11 296
Ken Barrington’s XI
Byrne c Smith b Edwards 53
Padget c Edwards b Warner 40
Binks b Tindall 25
Illingworth b Berry 57
Hampshire c and b Stewart 8
Barrington c Day b Tindall 102
Long not out 8
Robson not out 9
Steele b Bedser (E.) 8
Fayne c Edrich b Tindall 20
Total for 8 336
The Barnes Wallis album contains several newspaper photographs of the event as well. Again, these are now in poor condition and only partial restoration has been attempted here.
“Three scenes from the fantastic Barrington benefit match at Effingham on Sunday, watched by a crowd of 5,000. Above: Johnny Byrne, West Ham and England international centre-forward, signs autographs. Left: Ken Barrington tosses watched by East Park President’s XI captain, Peter Day. Below: Opening batsmen for Eastwick, Bill Smith and Mick Edwards (right), both of Surrey, take the field.”
An interesting detail in one of these pictures is the glimpse it affords (see red arrow) of the farm buildings which then stood at the northern end of Browns Field. This is the only image we have ever seen of them. They were located almost opposite Howard Court, the site of today’s Barnes Wallis Close, but have since been demolished.
Here is another picture from the album, this one captioned as follows: “Spectators were kept warily awake by the six-hitting cricketers at Effingham on Sunday. All eyes watch the flight of the ball as it rockets into the trees.”
We are fortunate that in 1964 a 19-year-old Effingham resident was already a keen photographer and took her camera to this event, taking a small number of colour slides. Now over half a century old, their colour balance has gone somewhat awry, as for most slides taken in that era. Below are shown the best restorations we have been able to achieve.
The first two show the singer and actor Tommy Steele, already internationally famous, signing autographs.
Here is a glimpse of Steele
(just left-of-centre) in one of the catering marquees.
Click on each of these for an enlarged view.
Finally, a panorama of the match in progress. Click the button for an enlarged view.