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Happy As Larry

No Place like Gomes

By Adelaide
January 13 2012

Adelaide reports on one of his early cricket memories from 1975. A thrilling B&H semi at Egbaston. The drama started on his journey and continued throughout this classic match. Some interesting names come up that are blasts from the past that may jog our memory. A compeling read. 

Not my first match by more than a decade, but the first match I went to on a Seaxe Club coach – the Benson & Hedges semi at Edgbaston in 1975.

First problem was having to pick up the coach in Hendon.  I made it by the skin of my teeth at the due time, but – of course – the coach was late, so I was worrying that I had missed it.  The coach driver had presumably not been to Edgbaston before as he took us round the M6 and down the Aston Expressway.  At one point I swear that the coach scraped its sides on a narrow flyover that was probably intended for cars only.

By the time we got there, the match had started and I piled in with the rest of the coach to what turned out to be the Members’ section, which I was not really entitled to be in.  I think that conditions initially were a bit murky and Middlesex were in some trouble at 57-3 as Larry Gomes (of “Enfield cricketer weds” headline fame in the local paper) joined Clive Radley.  The scoring rate was low.  Eventually Larry Gomes broke the shackles with a couple of delicious late cuts off Eddie Hemmings.  The scoring rate picked up, the sun came out and with help from John Murray we got to 247-8.  Radley’s innings was absolutely typical as I recall, working the ball around early on and going for it towards the end.  He went down in flames for a fine 103 on the boundary near the end. By this time I had moved into non-members’ areas and I distinctly recall one Bears supporter celebrating this dismissal as if it had won the match (at that stage it was almost irrelevant).

To be honest it did not look like a match winning total against an extremely strong, extremely West Indian batting line up it and looked even less like it as John Jameson and Dennis Amiss put on a century in quick time.  For the Warwickshire innings I was out in the (by now very hot) sun amongst the Brummies and I was thinking “OK, let’s have a beer or two, soak up the sun and get home.” Martin Vernon particularly suffered but he did dismiss Rohan Kanhai and John Whitehouse as they (slightly) subsided to 168-4.  Phil Edmonds and (perhaps more surprisingly as he was inexperienced at this stage) Larry Gomes bowled extremely economically but Kallicharan and Deryck Murray got them to 229-4.  At this stage I think less than a run a ball was required. But then both were out, and it got to (I think) sic required off the final over, to be bowled by the great John Price, who was getting near the end of his career.  Perhaps he was getting dizzy from his eccentric run up, apparently designed specifically to get round club cricket restrictions on the lengthy of bowlers’ run ups.

And what an over it was!  Eddie Hemmings clean bowled, two run outs.  I think the only runs scored were two off the final ball.  So, an amazing victory by three runs.  The Brummies around me were not very pleased, but that did not stop me celebrating!

Man of the match was Larry Gomes for his fine all round performance.  On another day Clive Radley might have got it, but to my mind Gomes had changed the momentum of the match with both bat and ball, so it was well deserved.  I can’t say I remember much about the aftermath in the pavilion bar and the journey home, but I had a splitting headache by the time I made it.

As always, the scorecards bring back memories.  Why was Vernon playing, instead of Fred Titmus – was Fred injured?  I had completely forgotten Bill Bourne.  Steve Perryman I remember rather better (due to his name no doubt) and Steve Rouse is presumably the same man who is a member of Vic’s fraternity.  John Jameson was a fantastic player to watch and David Brown such a full-hearted bowler.

The final?  Ah yes, Leicestershire.  Phil Edmonds hooked Graham McKenzie for six first ball but that was as good as it got, apart from a steadfast performance form Mike Smith.  I think that was the match when Norman McVicker got cheered for both four good wickets and producing a bright red handkerchief from his pocket.  But we had got to Lord’s (if you see what I mean) for what I think was the first time, and I like to think that the foundations of the following season’s Championship success were in the process of being laid down that year. 

Now, somebody was telling me something interesting about the border between Warwickshire and Worcestershire…

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Happy As Larry
Middlesex till we die (IP Logged)
13/01/2012 13:22
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Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2012:01:27:11:32:02 by BarmierKev.

Re: Happy As Larry
chunkyinargyll (IP Logged)
13/01/2012 15:31
Very good read, Adelaide.

I always remember Larry Gomes as looking about 12 years old. He always looked too schoolboyish to succeed, but he had a pretty decent career in end.

As a player I think Steve Rouse tended to be known as Mick (or am I mixing him up with someone else?) Like you, I'm sure he went on to be Edgbaston head groundsman.

Re: Happy As Larry
Haringey Racer (IP Logged)
13/01/2012 16:26
I believe you're right on the first count re Mr Rouse and you're definitely right on the second, Chunky: it is the same Steve Rouse.

Re: Happy As Larry
Vic. (IP Logged)
13/01/2012 19:21
Not sure about Mick, Chunky, but certainly became known as Rebel during his days behind the mower. Retired at the end of last season and was given a lifetime achievement at the recent ECB groundsmans dinner held at Edgbaston. Typically he was unable to attend due to travelling commitments, this now seems a passion. A letter of thanks was read out which was met with some interesting gasps, particularly from the Edgbaston contingent, who happened to be on the same table as Ram and myself.
Certainly believed in doing it his way!
Sorry Adelaide a great read and some classic names amongst the brummies inc Kalli, who went on to play Middx 50+ and head the Lashings operation for a while. A regular at UB8 and always good company.

Re: Happy As Larry
BeefyRoberts (IP Logged)
16/01/2012 11:51
A really good match report,with so many top class players as well.Superb reading

Re: Happy As Larry
adelaide (IP Logged)
16/01/2012 19:26
Thanks for kind words, everyone. Was any other MTWD member actually there that day? Can anyone remember why Titmus F.J. did not play?


Re: Happy As Larry
Jonathan Winsky (IP Logged)
16/01/2012 21:00
I have just realised that we have the 1976 edition of the Wisden Cricketers' Almanack, and piecing together information such as the match report of a John Player League match between Middlesex and Worcestershire at Lord's which took place a week before the match at Edgbaston and the scorecards of that match as well as a County Championship match between Middlesex Worcestershire and Lord's, it seems that Fred Titmus played in the Championship match and made 7 not out and bowled four overs on day one, but sadly in the following day's JPL match, after making 6 not out and bowling three overs, he sustained a finger injury and did not bat or bowl again in the JPL and Championship matches and was out of action for roughly one week.

No doubt this post will attract more "you should have used shorter sentences" posts than "thanks for your research" posts"!

Re: Happy As Larry
16/01/2012 21:03
Adelaide, great read,thank you. JW thanks for the research.

Re: Happy As Larry
chunkyinargyll (IP Logged)
16/01/2012 21:05
Jonathan- Thank you for your research.

This is you at your best. Your constant self analysis of your posts, state of mind etc, is getting ever so slightly over-repetative now!

Re: Happy As Larry
BarmierKev (IP Logged)
16/01/2012 22:01
Jonathan there is no reason to criticise your research here especially as your post is the right length and provided the answer we are looking for. Please keep this quality up.

Having looked at that scorecard world class players Glenn Turner and Imran Khan in same team. Wow. I remember Ted Hemsley an ex Sheff Utd footballer. I believe they had a West Brom goalie caled Jim Cumbes in squad at that time too.

Barmy Kev
I'm only here for the tele

Re: Happy As Larry
Jonathan Winsky (IP Logged)
16/01/2012 22:46
I felt guilty that my previous post included just one full stop. However, the way I phrased my post meant I could not find ways to include more full stops.

Re: Happy As Larry
BarmierKev (IP Logged)
17/01/2012 00:08
It's the substance that counts, not, the "punctu-ation".

This thread and Jonathan's linked scorecard has given me an idea. Name a cricket X1 with other sport links. It can be tenious ( can't spell the word but I don't feel guilty). Like I remember a Steve Perryman that played for Warwickshire and can think of some rugby links as well as cricketers who combined the sport with a football career.

Barmy Kev
I'm only here for the tele

Re: Happy As Larry
dingy bags (IP Logged)
18/01/2012 18:04
Rodney Marsh would be wicket-keeper.

Re: Happy As Larry
Jonathan Winsky (IP Logged)
18/01/2012 20:11
I am sure that there are many cricketers who have the same name as players from other sports. I know that John Murray and John Simpson have both lent their name to a present boxer, while there are two present footballers known as Tommy Smith, and indeed I am sure that many other sportsmen have gone by those names. Rod Marsh would have competition for the wicket-keeping spot if we tried to make such an XI. If we discussed every cricketer to have lent their name to another sportsman, then that would keep MTWD going for a long time!

A photo of John Simpson the boxer appeared in the day two report of the Middlesex v Sussex County Championship match in 2010. One of the footballers named as Tommy Smith will be familiar to supporters of Watford and QPR.

Re: Happy As Larry
adelaide (IP Logged)
19/01/2012 01:16
Any modern day Tommy Smith is a pale imitation of the original from Liverpool! He went back to the days when teams started playing four defenders rather than three, and for some years played centre back (or defensive wing half if you like) in the Number 10 shirt. Must have been a Merseyside thing because John Hurst also wore 10 for Everton playing centre back. I know shirt numbers don't mean much any more but most teams had 2, 3, 5 and 4 or 6 as their defensive quartet.

Smith was one of the real hard men of the day. Most teams had one - Dave Mackay, Chopper Harris, Pat Crerand, Mick Doyle... They could play as well but today's red card tackles were their meat and drink.


Re: Happy As Larry
Sussex Seaxe (IP Logged)
22/01/2012 20:44
I have just stumbled across this after a few days absence from this site and it brings back great memories. I had just learned to drive and this was my first big journey, with three friends, all the way from Finchley.

Larry played really well and I seem to recall, took a good catch near the boundary, after which Phil Edmonds seemed to be criticising him for not taking one more step in and catching it at waist, rather than boot strap, height. That Price over was magic and we were delirious as we went for a bite to eat in the Bull Ring in the city centre!

The one sad note was that I'm sure I remember reading that Clive Radley had his century scoring bat stolen from the dressing room at the end of the game - no, it wasn't me!

Thanks for the memories - they come flooding back!

Re: Happy As Larry
pantherlike (IP Logged)
23/01/2012 11:30
Ah Larry Gomes! How we used to laugh at that hairdo!

Nicely written there Adelaide, a real trip down memory lane.

Last names across sports? How about.....Bradman? Useful cricketer, and also there was a Bradman who was the Australian squash champ...but hold on: same person as it happens! That doesn't count...

So then, how about Gary Ablett? The late G Ablett was a stalwart for Everton, and Gary Ablett a Geelong legend (referred to as God) and quite possibly the best player in Aussie Rules history!

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