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Post-war cricket league, 1949 to 1951

by Phil Hoare

List of sports centres

The article on Heavitree Cricket Club which appears elsewhere on the Exeter Memories website, traced the progress of the Exeter and District League prior to the Second World War but could not, at the time it was written, clarify facts about the league’s revival once hostilities were over.

Now cuttings from the Express and Echo, collected by one of its former Sports Editors, Eric Hoare, throw fresh light on what was happening in the period from 1949 to 1951.

Eric played for Heavitree, St James’s and St Thomas’s and the cuttings are now in the possession of his son Philip, now living in Norfolk.

Philip was born in the city, worked for the Express and Echo as a reporter, and played cricket for St James’s, St Thomas’s and Alphington before moving away to work in 1964.

He wrote the article about Heavitree Cricket Club which disbanded in 1939, but initially could only find minimal information about the league’s post-war fortunes.

The newly-found cuttings clarify the fact that the league was a weekend and a midweek evening competition just after the war.

An article appeared in the E and E on February 20, 1950, inviting clubs to apply for membership at the AGM the following month, and included the averages for the previous 1949 season. The league had first and second divisions at weekends and a midweek section.

The leading players in the first division averages represented Richmond, Willeys, Woodbury, Starcross, Pinhoe, Townsends and Rockbeare; and in the second division they played for the Community Centre, City Hospital and Shilhay.

Shilhay, Woodbury, Richmond, Willeys, The Express and Echo and a Transport team were among clubs playing in the midweek evening league.

Each team batted for an hour and a half in 1949 but the The E and E cuttings show there was a proposal to cut that to an hour-a-side in 1950 in an attempt to maximise the use of the light.

Membership of the league was restricted to a ten-mile radius of the city and matches were played from the first week in May to the first week in August.

League tables for early 1951 showed that Lympstone, Pinhoe and Chrislea Aircraft were in a seven-strong first division along with Woodbury, Willeys, Starcross and Rockbeare. Poltimore and the RAAF were in the second division with Shilhay, the Community Centre and the second teams of Woodbury, Rockbeare and Willeys. Woodbury, Shilhay, Willeys, Pinhoe, Richmond and the James Street Youth Club played in the midweek section.

Eric Hoare became league president in his later years before his death in 1977 and it is understood that a bank deposit in the city holds papers and trophies from the Exeter and District League’s earlier decades.

In the 1950s league teams competed with “friendly-only clubs” in the Sim Cup knock-out competition, which was played on a Friday night. All matches took place at Exeter CC’s ground at Pennsylvania.

The winners in 1950 were Crediton and in 1951, Exeter CC. The successive runners-up were St James’s and Devon County Council. All proceeds from the matches went to Devon CCC.

© 2008 Phil Hoare

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