Ansty’s history from 1948
The first part of this story is based on reminisces of Tom Simpson in a letter to Roy Nichols and a tape recording made with Frank Nye, both respected players of the time.
Tom was our first captain, of the reformed club, and Frank was well known as “the little master”, a batsman of considerable ability.
It is known that cricket was played at Ansty between the wars and as far as is known these matches were first played on the opposite side of the A272 somewhere between the Public House, now a block of flats, and Highbridge – an area named after a bridge that was damaged and filled in between Ansty and Cuckfield.
No record seems to exist for this period.
Before the Second World War a pitch had been used on the current site and one of Tom’s memories of that period was of one of the last games played on a Saturday in 1939. During this match a coach arrived at the ground with a group of evacuees who quickly took over the village hall and with it the cricketers teas! The match was abandoned.
During the Second World War Moon Hill Place was taken over by the Army and it is believed that the field was used by these troops.
Following the cessation of hostilities, in 1947, a group of Ansty residents came together to bring back the game to the village.
Among these were Tom Simpson, owner of Greens Stores – the village shop, Les Pluckrose, and Frank Nye who worked to bring back some resemblance of a cricket ground. Frank Nye remembered the hard work to remove gorse bushes that had grown during the war. Two strips were found, more by luck than judgement, that had been used previously and these were mown by a mower bought by Tom Simpson from a church somewhere near the County Ground in Hove being brought back in Tom’s black delivery van. The mower was for sale “at a give-away price”
The outfield was a big challenge as although the gorse bushes had been removed the grass was extremely long. Thanks to Frank Pluckrose, Les’s father and “one of nature’s gentlemen”, who was eventually persuaded to let Tom and Les use an old tractor that had mower and scarifying attachments the grass was successfully dealt with. Next a roller was required, and this was found and brought into use by Tom’s father Percy who made it serviceable.
The work during the winter of 1947 allowed the club to arrange fixtures for the following year.
A committee was set up and this consisted of Major Blaker as President with Harry Cutler as Chairman. The committee included Sid Quantrill (Hon. Secretary), Tom Simpson (Hon. Treasurer), William Page, Les Pluckrose Jim Randell and Charlie Stoffell.
Captain was Tom Simpson and Vice-Captain Cyril Hillman.
The first fixture card was printed by a printer in Lindfield and the season beckoned.
The Print Machine Cricket League
The Print Machine Cricket League was established in 1982 sponsored by The Print Machine, commercial printers situated in Horsham.
During 1987 moves were made for Ansty to become a member of this League. We were accepted and played our first match against Alford at home in 1988.
Matches were played of 40 overs per team, win or lose. Up until 1991 matches were played either on a Saturday or on a Sunday depending on the home teams requirements. The League agreed in 1990 that all matches were to be played on Saturdays from 1991, something that Ansty had been asking for. A few teams had previously played on a Sunday making use of players that had played in a higher grade of cricket on Saturday. This ruling was felt to be fairer on all teams.
For the first match the team consisted in alphabetical order, Ellis Batchelor, Barry Crouch, Andy Hadfield, David Hawke, Roger Hawke, Shaun Janman, Andy Mott, Mick Nicholas, Richard Nichols, Brian Still and Andy Turner.
Ansty batted first and scored 172-7 with Richard Nichols (33) and Roger Hawke (32) top scoring with the willow. Alford’s reply was dented with Janman (2-11), Nichols (2-13), Andy Mott (2-15) and Barry Crouch (2-17) as the visitors struggled to 121-9 and the victory for our first League game.
League cricket had finally reached Ansty.