YMCA Cricket Club, Bristol
Playing cricket at Golden Hill since 1902

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 YMCA'S ALL-TIME GREATEST TEAM

Differing opinions and controversial team selections have been a feature of YMCA Cricket Club for over a century and the reaction to the recent publication of the club’s finest ever squad of players proves that heated debates are not a thing of the past.

 

The All-Time Greatest Team at the Anniversary Dinner in July

The YMCA’s All-Time Greatest Team appeared in the recently published YMCA Cricket Club - A 125 Years of History written by sports writer, Joyce Woolridge with assistance from her partner & Second Eleven bowler, Andy Spicer.

The players were picked from the many thousands of cricketers who have appeared for the ‘Christians’ since its beginnings in 1878. The final outstanding group of individuals were chosen using the framework of a traditionally balanced team; including a Captain, wicket-keeper, a four man bowling attack, including one spinner, two opening batsmen and one all rounder.

To assist the selection panel with their difficult, if not impossible task, the team were chosen using a wide range of reference material. This included the club’s official averages & statistics, extensive archive records and, most importantly, invaluable contributions from players, past and present. Each candidate was selected using a combination of attributes, including the players cricketing achievements, their potential, impact on the club during their career and overall contribution to the club’s off-the-field activities.

Take a look at the brilliant collection of cricketing giants chosen from as far back as the turn of the 19th century...

THE OPENERS:

R.S. Cork – As one of the YMCA’s most respected batsmen, Ray Cork is probably best remembered for his opening partnership with fellow All-Time Eleven batsmen, Keith Milsom during the 70’s and 80’s but Ray proved to be a prolific batsmen and athletic fielder in his own right. Bristol born, Ray’s early career began in spectacular fashion with an appearance in the 1964 Plate Final v Imperial at the County Ground in which he helped take the match to the final over. During the following 30 years of first team cricket at Golden Hill, Ray amassed more than 10,000 runs in over 600 appearances before retiring to take the post of Club Chairman between 1995 – 2000.

 

Keith Milsom in 1973

K. Milsom – Probably the YM’s most consistent and long serving batsmen over its 125 year history, Keith Milsom remains a highly respected left handed opening batsmen by his First Eleven team-mates and opposition alike. Milsom, who holds an impressive list of league and club records, has played for the YM’ since the late sixties during which time he has scored nearly 14,000 senior runs including an unprecedented fifty half centuries. His other achievements include the record for the most runs in one season (617 in 1995), the most First Eleven innings (405) and the record for most league catches (154). However, Milsom’s contributions extend far wider than individual performances, as well as forming part of arguably the YM’s greatest ever opening pairing with R.S.Cork, he also captained the First Eleven for 8 seasons including the promotion season of 1980 and remains a key member of the club structure. 

THE CAPTAIN:

Johnson with on of the club's youngest players, Oliver Sutcliffe

Rev. D.C. Johnson - Reverend David Johnson, the son of Eddie Johnson, remains in the eyes of many, the YM’s greatest ever Captain and with much justification. Johnson, who still lives in Bristol, made his debut at just 13 and in the years before WWII was given a masterclass in captaincy by some of the finest players to represent the club including the famous First Eleven pre-war skipper, E.R.Clarke.

 

A naturally attacking batsmen who scored thousands of runs for the club, Johnson was elected as First Eleven skipper between 1955 – 1959 which covered the era when the club, perhaps, enjoyed its most successful period in its history.

THE MIDDLE ORDER:

D.G.Stone – Don joined the YMCA in 1956, making his First Eleven debut as a wicket keeper. Primarily a batsman, Don could also bowl. He skippered the YM First Eleven in the 1960s, including the 1964 Plate Final.

E.JohnsonA prolific batsman, Edwin Johnson began playing for the YM in 1899. From then on he was to prove himself a master batsman, serving the YM with the distinction for over thirty years and making a record stand of 278 in 1929, before retiring in 1935. An unorthodox player, he was able to cope with even the toughest bowling, through improvising shots.

THE WICKET KEEPER:

 

Lionel Harris - An Elegant Batsman

L.C.Harris – Although not exclusively a wicket keeper, Lionel Harris’s skill with the gloves and, most notably the bat, wins him the coveted place as YM’s greatest wicket keeper/batsmen against stiff opposition. Six footer, Harris' distinguished cricket career spanned three decades during which time he became a regular member of the First Eleven scoring over 2600 runs in over 100 appearances as well as taking countless catches behind the stumps. His elegant batting style will be best remembered when he scored a stylish 123 not out for the Second Eleven against Chipping Sodbury in 1985.

THE ALL ROUNDER:

V.R. Davis - Universally recognised as the YMCA’s greatest individual player, 6ft 4” Roy Davis achievements stand head and shoulders above his contemporaries and there is little doubt that would have made the All-Time Eleven as either a batsmen or bowler in his own right. Davis joined the YM in 1932 at the age of 17 before becoming the First Eleven captain in 1946 and eventually playing for Gloucestershire Second Eleven at his peak. He continued to play for the club for a period stretching over four decades until his retirement in 1968.

During this remarkable 36 year career, the slow left arm spinner collected 1001 senior wickets with amazing consistency (highlighted by a bowling average approaching 10) and the respect of ever top Bristol batsmen of his generation. As with every great all rounder, Davis also contributed with the bat and could boast an impressive tally of runs thanks, in the main, to an array of big shots.

Although many of the records are now lost, it is almost certain that he scored over 5000 runs, mostly from the lower order, to be the undisputed all rounder champion of Golden Hill. Ten years after his career ended, Davis returned to become Club President between 1978 and 1996. A truly great player.

THE BOWLERS:

M.J.A. Hutton – The one player who, had he played for the YM for longer, would have surely challenged V.R.Davis for the crown as ‘Greatest Player’. Mike was a member of the well known Hutton family who were feature of the Golden Hill scene for many decades - although it was Mike that shone brightest. A naturally gifted cricketer whose was equally at home with the bat or ball, Hutton was one of very few YM players ever to have been selected for the Bristol & District team in which he excelled. Hutton finished his relatively short career at the club with a hugely impressive set of statistics including an average of 27 with the bat and 16 with the ball.   

John Ireland

J.P.Ireland – One of the greatest spin bowlers ever to have played for the YMCA, John Ireland’s record speaks for itself. Ireland’s intelligent bowling secured him over 640 dismissals in a highly respected career that bridged the 60s, 70’s and 80’s. Other achievements included, most notably, the record for the most wickets in one season for a First Eleven bowler, 46 in 1982 and a remarkable haul of 8 wickets for 10 runs against Hanham in 1973  - a spell that gave the club its first ever victory in league cricket.

J.F. Chidgey – Throughout the 1990’s the YMCA’s first team strike bowler, James Chidgey has  developed a reputation as one of the Bristol’s most feared fast bowlers. Chidgey began his career in 1980 and was an impressive performer from the outset. His consistency has produced a club record that can only be matched by a handful of former players, His achievements to date include reaching the 650 senior wickets barrier (an official club record) and the best individual bowling figures of 9 for 22 v Robinsons in July 1992. However, it was not just with the ball that Jim has contributed. As well as an experienced fielder, Jim can boast a good batting average of over 10 which has produced many vital innings in the lower order on matchdays. His batting skills were tested to the full in one of YM’s most famous league victories, over Gordano Valley, in which Jim made his highest score of 67* during a remarkable unbroken, match winning eighth wicket stand of 145.

M.J. Whale – One of two outstanding brothers who represented the YM for many years during the 70’s and 80’s, Mike Whale’s selection can be justified, not only by his accomplished batting and bowling, but also by his competitive attitude and enthusiasm. The powerfully built fast bowler’s wicket tally quickly increased after he joined the First Eleven in 1975 and during 1985 he took 41 wickets to secure the second highest total of league dismissals in one season. Whale also took as on a spell as First Eleven captain in 1984 before moving on the to play for and captain Knowle CC.

More information about John Ireland, Lionel Harris and James Chidgey can be found at the Player Profiles section.


© 2004 YMCA Cricket Club