(Spenny Loveday interviewed by Stephen Foote)
We recently caught up in the Red Cow and discussed the fortunes of the village cricket team over the years.
Spenny joined the cricket team whilst still at Saffron Walden Technical and Modern school, having taken to the sport and played for the school, ending up as the team Captain.
In the fifties, there were two ‘elevens’ on a Saturday, but on Sundays the teams would play at Elmdon or Arkesden – as the then owners of the field would not allow Sunday matches.
At the time the cricket pitch was in line with the pub – but when the school and the newer houses backing on to Jigneys were built it was realigned to its present position. The line of the public footpath that crosses the meadow cuts right across the pitch but it was well understood that walkers were expected to make a detour round it!
Cows used to be kept in the field; a local resident kept the cattle off the square itself and would clear up the inevitable cow-pats before matches and practices.
For a long time the cricket club took responsibility for maintaining the meadow and keeping the grass cut; however the Parish Council decided that on Health and Safety grounds it would be better to hire contractors to mow the meadow and pass the costs on to the rates.
However, back to Spenny himself who captained the team for many years before taking the office of club Chairman, and more recently that of President. A copy of the Chrishall Cricket Club’s 1999 season report has survived and makes interesting reading. The declining interest in Saturday social matches and difficulty finding sufficient players to form a team for Sunday fixtures ‘due to the interest in televised Association Football’ led the writer to sadly comment ‘….how long can the irresistible march to league cricket be resisted…..what future will there be for social cricket as we have enjoyed on Jigneys since time in memoriam?’
Spenny was club Chairman at the time and scored the club’s only century of that season of 173 not out against Little Hadham.
In fact his career average to 1999 was extraordinary; 4013 overs, 13,718 runs, 899 wickets. He was still playing more than 10 years later, and despite the gloomy outlook of the 1999 report, Chrishall Cricket Club plays on to this day.