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'50 Years of Martyrs Cricket' by founder Alan Stratford

As I learned of the plans for the 2017 50th Anniversary 'Big Bash', it occured to me that it was almost exactly fifty years earlier that the Martyrs played their first recorded match.  Opponents were Oswestry Cricket Club; the date August 20th, 1967.  A low-scoring match was won by the Martyrs by 4 wickets.

Among the fixtures over the next thirty years was a game against the Old Boys of our historic rivals Oswestry Boys' High School in 1994 and in 2007 the initial match against Oswestry School was remembered.  The programme for that match tells of the origins of Martyrs C.C. and of its history.

 Programme

(from left) back: E B Holywell, S K Humphreys, D J Vart, T G Turner, N J Williams, A Leggatt; front: J S Batchlor, J V Light, A F Stratford, L E D Ward, J F Furlonger.

Martyrs to the cause...

A glance around the Oswestry School staff room to identify practising and aspiring cricketers, a suggestion from senior master David Lewis for an appropriate name, and a trawl through Old Oswestrian lists for further support - and the concept of the Martyrs CC was born.

The reality materialised during the summer term of 1967 in the shape of a few evening games against local opposition on the Maes-y-Llan, site of the death in battle of King Oswald, Saint and Martyr.

Of these matches no record survives, though a challenge to Oswestry CC for a Sunday fixture during the summer holidays prompted greater care and details of the match preserved (see below).

During the next four decades more than 150 matches have been played.  Twenty/twenty (to adopt the current terminology) matches against Frankton, Cae Glas, Knockin and Ellesmere College Common Room were regular fixtures.

The eclectic composition of the team who, individually played for a range of different clubs precluded the possibility of the Martyrs becoming a properly constituted club with ambitions to play league cricket, but matches were held in midweek and, where opponents were prepared to delay their post-season groundwork, late into September.  In 1979 a match against Whitchurch CC took plave on October 10th!  Other clubs prepared to accommodate us included Chester Crossbatters, Northop Hall, Lilleshall, Shrewsbury and Wroxeter.

Martyrs CC v OBHS Old Boys, June19, 1994

Don Humphreys

MARTYRS  
J V Light b Brunt 17
E B Hollywell c Jones b Brunt 11
N J Williams b Evans 30
S K Humphreys c Lloyd b Evans 6
T G Turner c Flack b Lloyd 44
L E D Ward not out 76
J S Batchlor c Bennett b Allen 24
A F Stratford b Jones 2
D J Vart st Potts b Allan 11
J F Furlonger not out 0
A Leggatt did not bat  
Extras 10
TOTAL (9 wkts dec) 238
Daniels 8-0-34-0; Brunt 13-4-35-2; Allan 16-3-2-62-2; Evans 7-2-25-2; Bennett 12-1-41-0; Lloyd 6-0-27-1; Jones 3-0-7-1  
   
OBHS OLD BOYS  
J M Robinson run out 25
S E Jones c Furlonger b Vart 2
T A Lloyd c Turner b Leggatt 14
N Wanless lbw Furlonger 21
T Flack b Williams 4
J Bennett c Vart b Furlonger 0
J Potts c Humphreys b Williams 0
M Brunt c Ward b Vart 15
J R Evans b Vart 23
G Daniels c Williams b Vart 0
L R Allan not out 1
Extras 12
TOTAL 118
Vart 7.5-5-10-4; Leggatt 11-3-33-1; Furlonger 16-2-43-2; Williams 10-4-18-1  
Martyrs won by 120 runs  

For three years in the eighties, a mini-tour took the Martyrs to matches against Worcester Nomads CC and Wombourne CC.  Against the latter in 1982, Martyrs conceded their highest ever total, 304-7 declared, which included a 39-ball century from the hosts' number five batsman, whose feat was recorded in the Wisden magazine - Martyrs' only experience of national coverage.

(Before the assault began, Ken Byers had figures of 15-2-17-3; convincing a deluded captain that he would surely dismiss the aggressor and with a studied reluctance on the part of the others to bowl in the curcumstances, he finished with 26-5-119-3!).

Ken Byers

At 10-4 after six overs, Martyrs faces a massive embarrassment but a closing score of 214-8 over 60 torrid overs earned an inglorious draw.  The tour was enlivened by a bowls championship for the players at Kidderminster, the highlight being PSJ's achievement in losing one of his woods in the rhodedendron bushes adjacent to the bowling green.

Among the many individual performances, four in particular are memorable: Don Humphreys's 65no in the inaugural match (anticipating his 'annus mirabilis' of 1968 when he became the first Oswestry player to score 1,000 runs in a season); Les Ward's 111 against Wombourne in 1983; Andrew Leggatt's 8-47 against Wroxeter in 1984; and an astonishing innings of 70 by a 15-year-old Mark Wilson in 1982, also against Wroxeter - all of them match-winning contributions.

In the school's 600th anniversary year, the Martyrs are pleaed and honoured to be marking our own less conspicuous achievement in this match against Oswestry CC, whom we thank for it's hospitality.

ALAN STRATFORD

The Martyrs Players

Abbott, Thomas  1 Foster, Ian 12 Lloyd-Hughes, David 36 Stratford, Alan 146
Abraham, E 1 Furlonger, John 27  Lockhart, Nick 1 Stratford, Kevin 11
Anaraba, O 5  Gibson, John 2  Longshaw, Paul 2 Symons, Chris 4
Armstrong, Martin 1  Grace, Dennis 1  Lovett, Duncan 1 Sulirnin, S 1
Arthan, Graham 37  Greathead, John 1  Martin, Jonathan 10 Templeton, Ian 2
Arthan, Neil 3  Green, Patrick 1  MacDonald, Angus 5 Thomas, Neil 6
Arthur, John 5  Guyatt, Russell 5  McCrea, Frank 2 Thompson, Richard 8
Batchlor, John 19  Hare, John 6  McHale, Darren 1 Todman, Ken 1
Baxter, Grant 2  Hariri, S 1  McIntyre, Anthony 1 Turner, Tim 26
Benbow, Oliver 2  Hartshorn, Hulton 37  Moffatt, George 1 Usher, Don 1
Bernamont, Mike 2  Hartshorn, John 13  Moore-Bridger, Tim 1 Vart, Dave 10
Berry, Don 1  Hayward, Roger 1  Moreton, Lloyd 1 Warburton, Ian 6
Betts, Paul 2  Helliwell, Peter 9  Morris, Alun 1 Ward, David 7
Birtwistle, Ted 2  Henderson, Anthony 2  Morris, David 1 Ward, Les 7
Bowen, Ted 14  Hindorf, Paul 2  Morris, Nick 3 Washington, Dave 4
Bowyer-Jones, Richard 11  Holding, John 3  Morris, Robert 1 Waterton, Charles 1
Bracegirdle, Michael 1  Hollywell, Brett 12  Mostyn, Jim 2 Webster, Lawrence 2
Broadbent, Nick 52  Holmes, Andrew 13  Neave, Adrian 8 Wellbourne, Martin 4
Brown, Charles 1  Hughes, Jonathan 1  Nicholas, Edward 47 Wheatley, John 1
Brown, Paul 1  Huins, John 14  Nicholls, Terry 6 Whitticase, Brian 24
Brown, Roger (G) 2  Humphreys, Don 54  Nunnerley, Craig 3 Whitticase, David 48
Brunt, Andrew 6  Humphreys, Rex 1  O'Meagher, Mark 2 Whittingham, Clive 11
Brunt, Steve 5  Humphreys, Steve 15  Pannett, Jeremy 1 Whittingham, Nigel 11
Burton 1  Hurry, Rupert 1  Parker, Graham 1 Wilson, Guy 6
Byers, Ken 57  Jenkins, Peter 5  Parry, Keith 24 Wilson, John 11
Cambridge, John 1  Jones, Colin 1  Payne, Jason 2 Wilson, Mark 10
Cartwright, Paul 1  Jones, Howard 5  Pettegree, Simon 16 Wilton, George 5
Chetta, David 1  Jones, Peter G 11  Philp, Mark 1 Williams, Nick 28
Clark, Bob 18  Jones, Peter S 59  Phillips, Jim (G) 1 Williamson, Robin 7
Clarke, Toby 3  Jones, Richard J M 4  Pointon, Roger 15 Wombwell, Simon 1
Cleaton, John 6  Jones, Richard W 1  Powell, Peter 1 Wood, Alistair 3
Croft, John 12  Kalra, Colin 2  Power, Nigel 3 Wood, Philip 29
David, Peter 1  Khan, Salar 9  Price, Andrew 2 Woodward, Clive 5
Davies, Mike 3  Keighley, David (G) 1  Radford, David 13    
Davies, Philip 1  Keighley, Nigel 1  Raradi, P 1    
Dell, Jeremy 1  Kitching, David 1  Richards, Barry 1    
Dillon, Chris 1  Knight, James 1  Richards, Peter 3    
Dunne, Seamus 3  de Kock, Manny  2  Rowlands, George A 6    
Edge, Howard 8  Kynaston, David 3  Scorer, John (G) 1    
Ellis, Hugh 1  Lancaster, David 1  Sheppard, Gordon 4    
Ellis, Owen 6  Langford, Thomas 1  Sheppard, Michael 10    
Errisuoh, Kenneth 1  Larley, Patrick 2  Simmons, David 3    
Evans, Chris 4  Leggatt, Andrew 38  Shooter, John 1    
Evans, D John 43  Leonard, Carlton 2  Staney, Steven 6    
Evans, Gareth 4  Leonard, Martyn 1  Smith, Paul 4    
Evans, Greg 2  Leonard, Roger 58  Smyth, Murray 20    
Evans, Mark 1  Light, John 4  Solebo, Obafemi 1    
Evans, Richard 1  Light, Simon (G) 3  Staff, George 4    
Evison, John 5  Llewelin, Phil  1  Stephenson, Ian 1    

(G) Played as guest Martyr