by Dick Mattick

Published by Swindon Cricket Club

Pages: 147, and photography book of further 99 pages

MRP: £25


I am delighted to be able to mention this recently released book about a club I spent a dozen years at in the 1980s and 1990s. Swindon Cricket Club celebrated its 175th Anniversary in 2019 and plans to have the book produced in that year fell foul, like for many other entities, due to the coronavirus hence its more recent appearance in 2021.

The wait, though, has been worthwhile. There have been other books brought out to celebrate landmark years in the club's history, all of which were thoroughly worthy but something sets the 175 years publication apart. Dick Mattick, a local historian and biographer of the town's football club (directly in line with the ground and with excellent views from the club's pavilion), has done an admirable job in poring over manuscripts and through photographs which were available, if in no particular order. Lance Blizzard, a former Swindon Cricket Club player, has, through his printing business, produced a wonderful duo of books, one hardback (with the club's history) and the other softback with a collection of photos (very possibly obtained from former players in addition to the ones in the archives).

Swindon Cricket Club has a rich history and has hosted many international stars and county matches over the years. At one such match, Allan Border opened the new scorebox and a record of this day naturally enough appears within the publication. A history of the club's playing record and its fine performances - and not just for the 1st XI - accompany many further photos in the hardback book. Swindon has produced professional cricketers in Jon Lewis, Gloucestershire stalwart and now England bowling coach; Kevin Emery, who did so well in his first season with Hampshire and, more recently, Jake Goodwin.

For those of us who like to think that we have aged gracefully and well, some may enjoy the photographs as we used to be. Most of us are still recognisable and there will doubtless be much joy at seeing ourselves and others from all those years ago. The book is not solely about the club's fine on the field history as there are many recollections of lesser but immortal events. Randy Roze, the club's hard-working President and former player, has put a lot into the realisation of this book as has another former player, Mark Bowles. Well, maybe I shouldn't mention Randy as a former player as I did see him still turning out in 2019. Doubtless many of the club's current and former stalwarts have assisted.

The pavilion has been Grade II Listed for thirty-five years and the book traces its history also. A cricket club does not function without the help and assistance of many others including groundsmen, scorers and umpires. Don't forget the invaluable tea ladies either! Whole books have been written on cricket teas and the good people who prepare them and naturally the ladies who have kept the players' limbs together are mentioned - six lines of them. Maybe the greatest praise I can remember being offered - as an unintentional backhanded compliment, if you like - was the number of volunteers for the slips one afternoon...

It was always a pleasure to play at and represent Swindon Cricket Club and the anecdotes, articles and photographs have rekindled fond memories both on and off the field and congratulations and grateful thanks must go to all those who involved in producing such a wonderful memento. Times may still be strange during lockdown and, whilst summer approaches, Swindon Cricket Club 175 Anniversary should bring further joy before the season starts in some capacity.

There are still copies of the book available for anyone interested. Please feel free to contact me on andrewroberts1965@live.co.uk and I will pass on your request. Copies, naturally including both parts mentioned above, are priced at £25.