Tales from the Boundary
Memories of Camulodunum (Colchester)
The first eleven captain in my (too) brief time with Colchester & East Essex was R M N Green, Harrow & MCC: a very proper gent. He once asked "What does cricket mean to you, Andrew?"; my reply was "wickets, runs, catches and winning". I can't say that I ever played cricket for fun: enjoyment and satisfaction but not "fun". There is no greater joy than bowling a good delivery, even more satisfying if it takes a wicket, especially if a 'cunning plan' has lured a batsman into a trap. It's also nice to see the ball as big as a football and dispatch it all over the place, so others tell me.
At the time Colchester played "friendlies". No leagues back then. Most often we played London sides. Well, they were London to me. For Colchestrians London begins just past Chelmsford ie. Leyton, Brentwood, Chingford, even Southend. It's an East Anglian thing.
A local hero at the time was Geoff Nolan, a Milburnesque figure (extra-large) who played a few matches for Essex. First time I met him he said "I'm Geoff Nolan. Who are you?" "Andrew Appleby", I replied. "What school do you got to?". "Gilberd". "Oh. You must be good!” (which exchange settled the nerves of a sixteen-year-old).
John Wright, who again played a few matches for Essex was an opening bat. His brother, Peter, played with distinction for Colchester United for many years. John went to Colchester Royal Grammar School and held the record for most runs scored in a season until Mike McEvoy broke it. However, John was quick to point out that his average was better.
I started playing for Colchester one day when the Seconds were short of a player. My school captain, Terry Barton, played for Colchester and enlisted me as substitute. Terry could hit the ball as far as any. He once hooked the former Middlesex bowler David Ling for an enormous six. Ling was bowling fast and short but Terry scored 146, despite getting a bloody nose from one delivery. I met him some 10 years later at Southampton, when he was captain of Havant and I was playing on a neighbouring pitch for Fareham.
Mike McEvoy is a couple of years younger than me. My main memory is that he was a dependable slip and short leg. He must have retired by now, having been sports master at CRGS for a number of years. I must look him up one day.