Bluemantle Week 2021 Report

Under the watchful eye of our Patron, the Bluemantle Pursuivant himself and gratefully liberated from the shackles of lockdown, a young and vibrant gathering of keen cricketers assembled at the Nevill Ground to lock horns with familiar opponents from across the land.

The evils of Coronavirus may have been thwarted by the needles of the NHS, but the weather gods were not so kind as treacherous rain clouds hovered above Tunbridge Wells for much of the week, their contents accounting for the first day’s play, scuppering the match against the Band of Brothers.

The redoubtable Old Amplefordians arrived at the ground on the Tuesday to play the first game of the week. Chairman Ogden added to the excitement by announcing that this was the 70th anniversary of the fixture as the players were about to take the field. Pleasingly the game itself resulted in a victory for the home side, the most notable batting performance coming from Richard Calver (84) in setting the OAs 204 to win. Some disciplined bowling from the BMs ensured the target was not reached, with a brace of wickets each for Rothery, Pullen, Jackson and Ogden T, the latter having mutated into an off spinner over lockdown.

Emeriti were next to make the pilgrimage, thankfully with no overnight rain to delay proceedings. Batting first, the visitors plodded along, assiduously sticking to their task for 54.3 overs, tested in the main by Sam Huggett and Nico Chu who took 3-35 and 3-40 respectively. Chasing 181 for a second consecutive win of the week, the BMs lost their first game in four years, bowled out for 146 in just under 36 overs. Bailey Wightman, who had appeared for Kent earlier in the season as a medium pacer from Adelaide, held Emeriti at bay with a dogged 41 from 61 balls, with only Toby Pullen and the young Chu providing further resistance with 42 and 23. Nevertheless, we were grateful for an uninterrupted day and the company of three generations of the Pullen family. Bar takings were up on the day.

  • The new Bairamian Plaque

    For those Bluemantles with a knowledge of the club’s history, the Thursday was the day to look forward to when a commemorative plaque was to be unveiled on the wall of the Bluemantle Stand, honouring our lifelong friends, Bob and Rupert Bairamian. Fittingly, Chairman Ogden had chosen the match against the Stragglers of Asia for the ceremony, Bob and Rupert being such distinguished servants of both clubs. Dozens of friends and family gathered for the day, bringing picnics, memories and laughter as the grey and receding watched the young and hopeful take the field for a 40 over match with the BMs batting first.

Nothing could have been more encouraging for the future of BM cricket than the performances of Finn Tomlinson (77), Ted Paice (27 in 27 balls) and Will Daniels (1-25 and a massive six to greet the arrival of his Grandfather, Carl Openshaw!). All three played with a maturity beyond their tender years, with batsmen Tomlinson and Paice showing patience and aggression when required, and Daniels, aged 15, bowling with pace and control. Off the field, touching speeches by Club President Nigel Wheeler and Justin Bairamian, son and brother of Bob and Rupie, brought a downpour of both rain and Pol Roger as the day’s cricket was brought to an early close.

Sadly, more overnight precipitation meant the ground was unfit for play and the final game of the week against the Moose CC was abandoned.

This week of cricket, after so much disruption to our daily lives, reminds us of what we have to look forward to and enjoy. This wonderful ground, club and game allow us the privilege of friendship, competitive sport and humour. Bibulous lunches, our tummies stoked by Charlotte Burrough’s wholesome fodder, the reassuring presence of the Bluemantle and his Politburo of Wheeler, Ogden, Butler, Burrough and Atkinson and the knowledge that whatever Wuhan may throw at us, Bluemantle Week is to be cherished.

Ed Atkinson August ’21

The Bluemantle’s unveil the Bairamian Plaque

At teatime on 5th August, during the match between the Bluemantle’s and Stragglers of Asia, the Bairamian plaque was unveiled.

It is positioned on the side of the Bluemantle’s stand at the Nevill Ground.

The following videos were taken at the scene:

The Unveiling

The President

Justin Bairamian

Unveiling The Baraimian Plaque

Justin Baraimian will be unveiling The Bluemantles’ memory to Bob and Rupert Baraimian at The Nevill Ground during the tea interval on Thursday Aug 5th 2021. It will be at around 4pm during the Bluemantle’s match against the Stragglers of Asia.

Please join us in raising a glass of Champaign to Bob and Rupert.

Bob Baraimian
1935-2018

Rupert Baraimian
1962-2020

History of The Nevill Ground

These are some edited extracts from the two volumes of Tunbridge Wells in Old Photographs on the two cricket grounds, which give the date of foundation of the Bluemantles, its relationship to the other cricket clubs in town, and the point at which it transferred from the Common to the Nevill Ground.

Cricket has been played on the Higher Cricket Ground on Tunbridge Wells Common since the mid-18th century. From 1845 until 1880 County matches were played here, but these ceased due to the poor condition of the pitch which was regularly trampled by the public and grazing animals. County matches only returned to the town in 1901 after the old ground had been superseded as the town’s chief cricketing venue by the new Nevill Ground, opened in 1898.

Throughout the 20th century and on to the present day, the Higher Cricket Ground has been the home of the Linden Park Cricket Club, founded in 1876. It had originally been shared with two other clubs, the Tunbridge Wells Cricket Club, which traces its history back to the late 18th century, and the Blue Mantles, established in 1864; but these transferred their headquarters to the Nevill Ground in 1898.

Although cricket was played on the Higher Cricket Ground informally from the mid-eighteenth century, it was not officially set apart for the purpose until 1839, when the newly formed Tunbridge Wells Cricket Club received permission from the Freeholders to use and improve it, and to erect notices to deter abuse of the turf. The ground was subsequently enlarged in 1859 and 1875.

The Nevill Ground was opened in 1898 by William Nevill, 1st Marquess of Abergavenny, from whom the land had been acquired by the Tunbridge Wells Cricket, Football and Athletic Club Ltd. A contemporary guide said that ‘It deserves to be well patronised, for no expense was spared in making it perfect in every respect’. The first county cricket match on the ground was played in 1901, establishing a tradition that has continued to the present day.

In a county noted for its beautiful cricket grounds, the Nevill Ground in Tunbridge Wells possesses an unequalled charm and dignity; it has, in fact, frequently been described as the loveliest ground in England.’ So writes the town guide from 1951. When the Ground opened, the Tunbridge Wells Cricket Club (1839) and the Blue Mantles (1864) transferred their headquarters there from the Common.

Higher Ground, Tunbridge Wells
The Nevill Cricket Ground at Tunbridge Wells Date: 1902.
The Nevill Pavilion was virtually destroyed in a fire on 11th April 1913. The blaze was widely believed to be the work of militant suffragettes, and it was reported that suffragette literature had been discovered at the scene. Date: 1913

Nevill Ground Telephone Box Gets a Makeover

The much-loved telephone box in Nevill Gate, is going to receive some much-needed refurbishment this winter, according to Kent Live.

Erected sometime in the 1920s, it is one of only four in the country and is grade two listed.

According to Kent Live, the works are intended to be carried out in time for the 2021 season.

Remembering Bluemantle’s Centenary – 1962

This is the team which played in the Bluemantle’s centenary match against The Duke of Norfolk’s XI at Arundel in 1962. And below are some words from the centenary dinner, held in London that year.

vs Duke of Norfolk XI Arundel 1962

Tom Simpson

T.O.M.Simpson sadly passed away on 25th September aged 91.

Before coming to teach at Holmewood House School and representing the Bluemantle’s Cricket Club, he played for M.C.C and Esher CC

In the history of Esher CC celebrating their centenary in 1963, it states ….

‘The three years of Crouch captaincy marked the rise of J.A.Harrison and T.O.M.Simpson both powerful strikers of the ball – left and right respectively, the latter scoring his one thousand runs in 1957 and 1959’.

He first played for Esher in 1946 and had 62 innings amassing over 8000 runs at an average of 25.08.

Neil Benedict, who was coached by Tom, writes…
‘I first met Tom in the late 50’s when he ran the Esher Colts – his enthusiasm along with his schoolmasterly and authoritative style, contributed to a happy and fun environment. When I was in the Eastbourne College X1, it was lovely to watch and play against him representing the MCC in the 1960’s. He played a very positive effect on my life during this period, which I very much appreciated.’

Ted Rose, a distinguished member of The Bluemantle’s writes…

‘He was a Cambridge Crusader — he always wore the cap — and was a useful, uncomplicated, correct and attractive bat. He was also a revered schoolmaster. In his retirement he spent many hours reading to hospital patients.’

‘The one thing I can tell you is that I ran him out to finish his last ever innings! It was in the BM week and I had opened the batting in the morning. Tom came in at number three and we had a decent partnership up until lunch. I don’t know how many Tom made, but it must have been 40 or 50.’

‘Anyhow, I faced the first ball after lunch, eased it into the gap in the covers and trotted off for a gentle single. Tom had managed to get half-way down the pitch when he let out a howl of pain and pulled up with a torn hamstring.’

‘He enjoyed recounting afterwards, omitting his injury, that I had run him out in his last ever innings! – Lovely bloke.’

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