The Cricket Writers’ Club was established in 1946. Former CWC president, secretary and long-time SJA member Derek Hodgson, who died in June 2017, penned this short history.
When the British stay abroad for a spell they usually do two things: form a club and play a game. So it was in 1946, when 14 correspondents arrived in Perth a month early due to immediate post-war shipping shortages.
While waiting for Hammond’s England to arrive, and on being joined by Australian colleagues, they set up, at Arthur Mailey’s suggestion, the Empire Cricket Writers’ Club to play a few local fixtures. A club needs a distinctive tie and the only design available in bulk locally featured a skull and crossbones.
The following summer, at Trent Bridge, the pirates of Perth became The Cricket Writers’ Club, colours field green and ink blue, with (who else?) Jim Swanton as chairman, Charlie Bray as secretary and Archie Ledbrooke (who died in the Munich air crash) as treasurer. Sadly all the club’s early records were lost in a fire at the secretary’s house.
By 1948 the club was able to claim national attention with a dinner to welcome the touring Australians, with the BBC even postponing the then peak-hour nine o’clock news to broadcast speeches by Don Bradman and Sir Norman Birkett.
Membership in the early days was confined mostly to the cricket correspondents of the national newspapers, some members based in the south-east and a few northern luminaries such as Jim Kilburn, Bill Bowes and John Kay. In 1952 the membership was 52, a number that had grown to 96 six years later.
By the mid-90s the membership had climbed to 250 thanks mainly to the presence of Wendy Wimbush. The additional income and extra members enabled the club to revive the annual dinner, now the annual lunch, form sub-committees and greatly extend the club’s influence and standing in cricket.
The club boasted a handsome honours board in the old press box in the Warner Stand. When MCC resisted attempts to erect it in the present media centre, a new and welcoming home was found for it in the club’s birthplace, Trent Bridge. Nottinghamshire also proved generous hosts to the club’s mementos, marshalled by William Powell, while MCC were more that hospitable in permitting the club to use the Long Room for anniversary dinners in 1996 and 2006.
Over the years John Woodcock proved to be a sterling President Emeritus, always an archive of common sense to harassed chairman and secretaries. Jim Swanton never failed to give staunch support when needed. Robin Marlar is the only man to have held all the club’s offices and joined Tony Lewis, Tim Rice and Christopher Martin-Jenkins in also presiding over MCC. Graham Morris was the progressive chairman who convinced the committee of the value of a club website.
Brian Scovell not only served as secretary and chairman, but has been an indefatigable promoter of the Club XI’s fixtures and monitor of press facilities. In recent years, as membership wilted under newspaper and agency economies, Pat Gibson and Mark Baldwin have ensured the club’s financial standing with sponsorship support. And always, always, there was Wendy Wimbush, the long-stop past whom no issue, or erring member was permitted. In November 2015 the club rightly recognised her outstanding service with a lunch at Lord’s, the first and only member to date to be so honoured.
President: David Warner
Chairman: Mark Baldwin
Secretary: Alan Gardner & Julian Guyer
Assistant Secretary: Bruce Talbot
Treasurer: Marcus Hook
Assistant treasurer: Wendy Wimbush
Membership secretary and handbook editor: Gemma Wright
Curator: William Powell
Committee: Mark Baldwin , David Warner, Julian Guyer (secretary), Alan Gardner (secretary 2017), Marcus Hook, Lawrence Booth, George Dobell, Pat Gibson, Andrew Miller, Alison Mitchell, Graham Morris, Dean Wilson