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Club History


Playing Cricket at Montesole Playing Fields

106 Not Out

 

In their series "Notable London Clubs" an Observer article in 1932 begins "The Pinner CC claims to have existed from time immemorial, or at least as long as cricket has been played..........The earliest existing record is of a match played in August 1790, at Pynor Greene, against Rickmansworth CC" our opponents today. If the "record" existed in 1932, and the article quotes the names of two Pinner players who "took part in the match", no-one has been able to track it down. It seems quite likely that challenge matches were played from time to time but regular fixtures probably came sometime later.


We know that the Barrow Point Club was formed in 1878 (changed to Pinner in 1890) but the Harrow Gazette (now the Harrow Observer) has details of earlier Pinner games. After 1878 the record is continuous although full details of officials, fixtures and performances are sparse especially in the early years.

 

A major crisis arose in 1892 when the Club was forced, for some reason, to leave Barrow Point at fairly short notice. Fortunately they were able to rent a ground at Pinner Green from Mr Helsham Jones JP and in spite of two World Wars and other conflicts we are still there.


In the mid-thirties the land was put up for sale but the price seems to have been beyond the members' means. Fortunately the Hendon District Council stepped in to preserve it as an open space. It was named after Mr E B Montesole JP in recognition of his services; he was President of the Club from 1936 until 1940.

 

The move to Pinner Green was not without its difficulties. At the end of the first season the gazette reported that 'The Club has not, from a cricketing point of view, been so successful as in former years owing to their newly made ground not being in very good order, the dry season having been against it'. Even three years later we read that 'the play was not of a first class order' one possible reason being that 'the pitch is in such a condition that play, in the proper sense of the word is impossible.... . However, through some mysterious alchemy not unknown today, the pitch seems to have favoured one side; witness a game when Pinner made 17 and the opposition 170 for 5.


Minutes of Committee Meetings from 1945 present a picture of other problems the Club had to tackle. As well as replacing the burned-down pavilion the fixture list had to be built up again, finances put on a firm basis and, in an era of rationing, players teas were not the least of the difficulties. For the early games changing accommodation was provided by courtesy of the landlord of the Bell whilst a search was made for a second-hand hut (a licence to build a non-essential structure like a cricket pavilion was out of the question!). In 1946 a Nissen hut was purchased and brought from Harlow in Essex. The minutes refer to an expenditure on the temporary Pavilion of 129-6-4 although it is not clear if this was for the shell alone. A few years later an architect member of the Club drew up plans for a new Pavilion and although a licence was not received until March 1951 the building was in use before the end of that season. When funds permitted, improvements were made (hot showers did not appear until 1 965) and in 1969 an extension was built for a tea-room and storage. This also produced a problem as it was declared unsafe and needed strengthening before it could be fully used.

 

Close shave, nearly bowled out when on 89!

 

Following the rejection in 1982 at an Extraordinary General Meeting of a proposal to amalgamate with Old Lyonians CC, plans were drawn up for a completely new layout and re-furbishing of the Pavilion. With the aid of a grant from the Sports Council, a loan from the Harrow Corporation and donations from members all was ready for sesquicentennial celebrations in 1985. Perhaps the greatest improvements were the new kitchen and the increase in the lounge area which gave playing room for what is now a flourishing Table Tennis section.

 

For many visitors the most striking aspect of Montesole is the large sightscreen (especially when they try to move it). It is about thirty feet high to allow for the fall in level and it was built at the London Graving Dock. It has survived remarkably well the assault and battery of wind and weather (and humans too).

 

In this story of Montesole nothing has been said of the 'soundless-clapping hosts' ranging from Test cricketers and stage stars to the 'ordinary' club members from whom the ground has been a back-drop, but it would be fitting to end with a name of one who embodied all the elements which make cricket unique. His membership of Pinner covered two-thirds of the time-span we are celebrating; he was a fine all-round player; he was one of those who kept the club in being during the 1939/1945 War taking on the job of secretary in January 1945; he was Club Captain in 1958 and a Vice-President. His 50'" season was marked by a special match in 1969 and whilst this was not long long before the end of his playing days he remained a constant watcher and stern critic up to his death in 1986. He was of course Bert Campbell.

 

What will the next hundred years bring ?

 
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