Ray Pescud's involvement with Merstham Cricket Club in the
1960s might have been short, but it was in a time of great change
for the club and the area, predating the M25 and the neighbouring
golf club. It was either side of the club's centenary in 1964 and
coincided with the progression of two colts teams.
In 1962-63 I was in my fifth year at Reigate Grammar School -
there now as a sportsman and not an academic! Peter Tharp had just
left after being head boy, captain of rugby 1st XV and captain of
cricket 1st XI. Merstham was basically in three areas. There was
the original village on the A23, then down School Hill under the
railway bridges was South Merstham based mainly on Nutfield Road,
and further east was Merstham Newtown based mainly on Bletchingley
I lived in South Merstham and can only assume that my RGS
association got me playing for Merstham. I don't know why, because
you could only reach the ground from Quality Street, and had to
walk through the yard where the cows congregated above their field
- often a very unpleasant experience! On one occasion, a game was
stopped for a while to allow a cow to give birth to her calf.
The players who took part in the Centenary match on
August 1, Merstham v MCC.
From back row left, an unknown Merstham player (Nigel Pink?) plus
Merstham umpire Mr Hutton, followed by Ray Jackson, James Cook, Ron
Frith and Martin Hicks. The rest of the row played for MCC.
Kneeling, back row from left are Ken Winchester, an MCC player,
John Periam, an MCC player, Rev John Biddell (captain, in blazer)
and another MCC player. Front left is Ray Pescud, then Allan Lewis,
then second from right Peter Tharp and far right Clive Constant. Of
the two boys in front, Pat Periam is on the right and on the left
is Jeff Borer, who were scorers.
In those days, the clubhouse was at the far south east corner of
the cricket field, without electricity, and there were fixed fence
boundaries. When the wicket was near the edge of the square, that
boundary was so short we counted sixes as fours and fours as twos.
On the other side, you could sometimes run five!
I played for the only Colts XI in 1963 and was captain in 1964.
In 1965 a Junior Colts XI was established, and I was one of two
vice-captains of captain David Segrove's Sunday XI. In 1966 I was
Sunday XI captain with Peter Tharp and David Loader as my
vice-captains, and was also Hon. Team Secretary of the club. Then
in 1967 & 1968 I was 1st XI vice-captain to Peter (who married
Kathy on 30th March 1968), and was also responsible for management
of the bar. That might seem all very straightforward, but it was
far from being so.
I didn't actually play for the 1st XI in 1968. I moved to
Northampton in the May after waiting for an operation on my right
wrist. This was the third year in a row I had problems with that
wrist - I was also told it had never healed from the first break.
In 1967 I only played the second half of the season, having broken
a finger in my left hand earlier in the year playing sevens rugby.
I suppose also the fact that Trisha and I married on 29th May had
something to do with my unavailability!
I actually captained the 1st XI five times - don't know where
Peter was! - and "broke" my wrist again. It was also in 1967 that
Trisha and I were the main organisers of the first dinner and dance
which was held at the Lakers Hotel, Redhill. (Previously, a Spring
dance and a players' dinner had taken place and continued to do so,
but the ladies didn't want to be socially excluded, having supplied
our teas during the season).
The chief guest was Freddie Brown and he brought along a number
of Surrey's 1st XI players - some had been at the centenary dinner.
I am not sure who had the original connection with Surrey (it might
have been Ernest Cook - previous chairman to 1966) but in 1965 the
opening fixture of Cricket Week was against Surrey Club &
Ground (virtually Surrey 2nd XI arrived) and on 5th September there
was a Sunday benefit match against a Micky Stewart's XI.
Unfortunately, both matches didn't get played because of rain -
see also below. It looks as though I had a "more normal" 1966 as I
have all the results for the 1st and Sunday XIs in my fixture card
for the year. This was despite earlier in the year breaking my
wrist for the first time whilst being goalkeeper for the Old Boys
football 1st XI.
Although it was my 'A' level year, 1965 was probably the
highlight year of my sporting life for many reasons, but I will
stick to Merstham. I can use the Sunday XI to demonstrate how so
many members came together and seemingly stayed for some time.
At RGS every year, three boys were promoted from sub-prefects to
full prefects in their lower sixth to prepare them for their upper
sixth duties. In 1964-65 Richard Williams, Nick Atkinson and myself
were the three - we were also cricket, rugby and basketball 1st
team captains respectively.
I persuaded Richard and Nick together with another boy, Steven
Lowe, and masters Robin Bligh and Alan Sims to eventually join
Merstham. The Old Boys team lost out, as had already been the case
with Tharp, Segrove and Peter Wightwick. I don't think all nine of
us ever played together on the same day, but at least three times
seven of us did and there were many times of four, five or
A confirmed match result written up
Three consecutive Sundays in August 1965 stand out in my memory
for three very different reasons.
First it was the 15th and I was captain that day. We had already
unexpectedly beaten South Merstham on their own ground, so the
double was an unusual possibility. We managed an acceptable 137
with David Loader holding the second half of the innings together
with 30no. I knew their number three was the danger man - a stylish
cover driver. I had the usual fast, tall and gangly Martin Hicks to
open the bowling. But what I then did - much to the shock of the
rest of the team which included RGS 1st XI captain Richard and
master in charge Robin (who was wicketkeeper) - was to give the
ball to Nick who hardly ever bowled. However, knowing him from
school I was confident that he and I could bowl to a seven to two
off-side field and hopefully frustrate the batsmen into errors.
The plan worked. Martin, whose run-up started virtually from the
boundary, roughed up the batsmen with his speed and he took three
of the first five wickets. Nick and I didn't take a wicket but
their number three was eventually run out after only scoring three
fours, and they were 66-5. I interspersed Nick and myself with
David Loader and he took 4-24 in eight overs including the last two
danger men. In between, Martin bowled uninterrupted at the other
end and finished with 5-39 in 22 overs. I was so over the moon with
the result and the way it was achieved that I bought the team my
first ever round of drinks.
Reports from the Surrey Mirror
The next Sunday, we were away at Crawley Down with six of the
RGS group in a match affected by rain. After being 51-4 they were
all out for 55 with Keith Forrester finishing with 5-12 from 10
overs. Our batsmen equally struggled to get runs. Peter Tharp top
scored with 17 and I then hit the winning runs just before the rain
In the final match of the season, Camberley were our visitors
and I captained the team to the biggest win I ever had. It was also
the second highest score by a team I played in. Peter Tharp and I
had a third wicket partnership of 150 in 63 minutes. He ended up
with 83 and I hit 76 in our total of 242-8 dec. Then Martin Hicks
took 5-28 in 12 overs in their total of 90 all out.
Earlier in the year Nick had hit the only century (100no) that I
recall a Merstham member scoring (John Brewer scored one in Cricket
Week but he was "on loan" from South Merstham). On a more personal
note, I had been selected to play for Surrey Association of Cricket
Clubs against a Surrey Colts XI at the Oval on 4th September.
Unfortunately, it rained all day and not a ball was bowled - as
above! So, my cricket in 1965 ended having played 43 matches in
four months for Merstham Sunday / 1st / Club & Colts XIs and
RGS 1st XI.
Also in 1964-65 I had been Linkfield house captain at RGS and
Richard (Dick) Mantell was in my house and beginning to make his
ability known. It was probably at this time that Merstham colts
such as Gerald (Gerry) Speed and Steve Cosham started playing
regularly. Keith Forrester was Senior Colts XI captain, and his
father and Steve Cosham's father were involved in running the club.
The influx of youngsters from RGS and around Merstham really began
to change the club, at a time when many of the established members
lived in "top" Merstham or the surrounding area.
In 1963 and 1964 I don't remember much else other than playing
for then captaining the Colts. The obvious exception was on 1st
August 1964 when I played in the special club 12-a-side match
against an MCC team to celebrate our centenary. They were far too
strong for us and although we hung on until late into the
afternoon, we were well beaten by 164 runs (259 to 95).
- Ray Pescud now lives in March, near Cambridge. Anyone from
his era at Merstham Cricket Club who would like to catch up with
Ray and share more memories of that time should contact our
communications manager Ian
Lamont via email. Equally, if you have been inspired to write
your memories of the past, we would be delighted to hear from
- Do you know the unnamed player, top far left in the picture
of the anniversary game? Or who had the strong link with Surrey?
Then get in touch.
The centenary dinner card with the signatures of Micky Stewart
and Peter May.