is an 1865 map of some of the area covered by Cambusbarron, St.
Ninians and Stirling, and, although it is eighty-five years
out-of-date concerning my reminiscing about the 1950s, it still
appears to me to give a better idea of mid-twentieth century
geography related to my sporting activities in that period than do
currently available early twenty-first century maps. Unfortunately,
for my purpose of showing reasonably authentic pictorial local
contexts for the 1950s, recent maps tend to be over-cluttered with
illustrations of all that later twentieth century modernisation
accomplished with respect to housing, roads and motor-ways etc.
my Uncles - John Telfer and Jimmy Mitchell had really enjoyed
playing for Castings Cricket Club in Falkirk in the 1930s and my
father likewise for Bridge of Allan C.C. during the same decade.
Thus they were all keen that I should learn to play and love the
game. That I probably fulfilled their wishes is illustrated to begin
with by the following recollections:-
already mentioned in an earlier chapter, I had, from about 1948 on,
not only listened to endless hours of Test Matches carried by the
BBC Light Programme on our wireless set in Banknock, but had also
dreamed about the prowess of the likes of Don Bradman, Len Hutton,
Denis Compton et al., not to mention the fact that I had also played
endless Test Matches on Bumpy Ibrox against my pal Robin Profit.
it didnt take me long to seek out and find similarly cricket-minded
lads of my own age in Cambusbarron. Having struck good cricket
rapport with John Jock Templeton and David 'Bimbo' Kemp, we
annexed a flat strip down the east side fenced-hedge at the foot
of the local public park, made it our local 'Lords', and proceeded
to play many a mini-test thereafter.
However, I was luckier than Jock and Bimbo because my dad and mum
allowed me to accept an invitation to be coached by, not only
Stirling County Cricket Clubs senior player and former Scotland
International, Willie Clark, but also, if time permitted, by the
Clubs professional for that season, Cliff Connolly from New
Zealand. It was no co-incidence that I had probably received that
coveted invitation because, on my frequent visits to Grandma
Hendersons down the Riverside in Stirling, I had often played
cricket in the local park with Mr Clarks son Alistair, as well as
with Jim and Douglas Macgowan, step-sons of another County first
team player, Willie McArthur!
coaching venue was the County Ground at Williamfield, Torbrex, St.
Ninians, and there I joined-up with a small group of similarly
promising youngsters who had also been recommended for such
development opportunities. As the ground was a mere half-mile along
the road east from Cambusbarron, I could reach it easily in about
five minutes by bicycle. [c.f. Map] This then became the start of
my 'love-affair' with the 'County' and it is one which has lasted to
interesting to look back on some paraphrased extracts from the SCCC
Management Committee Meeting minutes for that time and notice in
retrospect just how and when my cricket opportunities came to be
Mr W. Clark intimated that, in co-operation with the
professional, he would organise coaching for boys. .. Funds raised
during the season permitted the sum of £400 to be applied to reduce
the outstanding debt on the Williamfield ground, which was thus
reduced to £985. . A 7 a side competition was agreed on for local
teams, limited to one current playing member per side. Matches to be
played in evenings (Monday and Wednesday) consisting of ten eight
ball overs, played on a knock-out basis. .. The resulting winners
were Stirling Merchants with Torbrex as runners up. As a result
a profit of £100 was made.
. At the Spring A.G.M. it was agreed to form a Third XI to provide
match-playing opportunities for those members who were unable to get
a place in the Club First XI or Second XI. .. On the recommendation
of the Strathmore professional, the services of Irvin Iffla from
Jamaica were obtained.
other reference in the 1950 Minute which was then relevant to my
developing passion for the game was my watching my father - for the
only time in my life - playing a game of competitive cricket. The
occasion was representing Cambusbarron Bowling Club when they made
an unsuccessful attempt to progress beyond the 1st Round
of the new Seven-a-Side cricket competition at Williamfield for the
around forty-two years of age, and never having played the game for
about twenty years, I clearly recall that Dad, even then, definitely
looked the part a tidy left-hand bat, nippy between the
wickets, a watchful fielder, and a useful right-arm bowler.
[I then realized where my early tendency to be comfortably
ambi-dextrous at games had come from!] However, for the
ill-exercised JNK, the next morning was another story altogether! We
almost needed a crane to get him out of his bed, and then he
required some very hot baths to allow him to ease his way
downstairs, far less hirple over to the school during the following
soon transpired that one of the main reasons for the Clubs decision
to form a 3rd XI in 1951 had been to fill it with a good
balance of more elderly players and youngsters from Mr Clarks
Coaching Class. Thus, under the caring guidance of local Stirling
pharmacist Jackson McDonald as captain (and our mentor), the
Wednesday evening 3rd XI fixture list quickly developed
to provide 20 over-a-side matches. These not only provided great fun
for us playing alongside adults in friendly games, but also gave us,
as youthful participants, invaluable experience. The policy phrase,
If you are good enough, youre big enough had come of age at
Despite the fact that my boys size Len Hutton bat had not
survived early Test Matches in Cambusbarron Public Park, and I,
being small for my age, found that even one of the Clubs Harrow
adult blades was awkwardly big for me, I was able to get quite a few
runs for the 3rds that summer indeed enough to be awarded, at the
S.C.C.C.s end-of-season prize-giving, a brand new, suitably sized
Denis Compton bat in recognition of the talent I had continually
displayed as both wicket-keeper and batsman throughout that summer.
Another relevant little story is one that relates to May 1952, and
to me as a wee first year lad accompanying the big Class Fives and
Sixers of the High School Cricket 1st XI as Team Scorer
(and mascot!). That events turned out as they did on that first
Saturday morning of the school season, away at Bathgate Academy,
hinged largely on my 1951 experiences of not only playing with
adults, but also on my having practised a lot with some of the
County 1st and 2nd XI players at Nets every
Tuesday and Thursday evening throughout the season.
all our gear bundled into the boots of Alexanders service buses,
firstly to Callendar Riggs Bus Station, Falkirk and then on up into
the Braes via Torphicen to our destination, it was discovered that
the team was a man short! Was I delighted at this news? Not half!
And even more so when Ronnie Melville, who, as a schoolboy, was
already playing regularly in Championship matches for SCCC 1st
XI, forcefully informed the 1st XI captain, Alex
Marshall, that not only was Wee Henderson perfectly capable of
taking the missing spot, but that he should have been picked in the
first place, based on his form as wicket-keeper to fast bowling the
likes of his own! Had it been a cunning plan on the part of some of
the big boys in the know to fool the cricket master responsible
for supervising selection? I never did find out whether this last
spot in the team had been a fictitious name!
However, in succeeding weeks, even after playing my full part in
that first mornings victory, the school policy of there being no
juniors allowed in the top school side was implemented with much
greater, if somewhat stupidly constrictive rigour by the teachers
concerned. No matter this annoying outcome, I was elated by my
breakthrough and thus on my way to becoming a bit of a junior
school sporting hero as news got round about the exciting precocity
that I had shown at Bathgate.
Indeed, blinkered teachers continued to delay my, and some others
appearances in the School 1st XI until recognition of
the ability of two of us, who were occasionally representing the
full 1st Stirling County side whilst still only third
formers at school, at last put so much pressure on the powers that
be that the previously short-sighted selection policy was amended.
That this age-policy was also applied to School rugby team
selections seemed much more sensible in view of the greater
significance of physique in that game, but it seemed to be a daft
idea when applied to the much gentler and gentlemanly game of
Although you can see from the following photographs that by the end
of my third year at school as a fifteen year old, I was much more
mature physically that I had been in my first . !
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