PICTURES: Lodsworth villagers remember trials and triumphs in century of sport

Lodsworth Stoolball team: back row: F Bicknell, S Vivash, P Wells, J Lambert, front row: V Baker, W Newell, R Gamblin, R Hyde, K Bicknell
Lodsworth Stoolball team: back row: F Bicknell, S Vivash, P Wells, J Lambert, front row: V Baker, W Newell, R Gamblin, R Hyde, K Bicknell

A look back at a century of sport in Lodsworth led to memories of cricket, stoolball and football over the years being shared by some 60 villagers.

Many of them had themselves taken part and it soon became apparent their memories of the games and social activities were still crystal clear.

Lodsworth footballers, taken in 1913

Lodsworth footballers, taken in 1913

Among the reminiscences, villagers learnt about two remarkable chess players who had both been Sussex county champions in the 1920s and 1930s and represented Lodsworth to win several trophies in their time.

The Bridger brothers were reported to have played blind chess as they passed each other ploughing their fields.

The earliest recorded game played by Lodsworth Cricket Club featured a match in 1891 against Easebourne to celebrate the silver wedding anniversary of Colonel and Mrs Hollist.

Moving forward to the 1930s, photographs showed cricket being played in a field near Heath End Farm just to the west of the village.

Lodsworth Chess Club, in 1933

Lodsworth Chess Club, in 1933

There were no facilities at all in those early days. In the immediate post-war years cricket was played at the other end of the village just below St Peter’s Well in a field called Well Meadow.

Here, at least, a basic pavilion was provided, even if the playing area was shared with a herd of cows.

The move to the present recreation ground in 1952 heralded a resurgence of enthusiasm not just for cricket, but also for football and the introduction of stoolball, there being no evidence of the latter over the previous century.

The football club was formed in 1898, and it seems possible early games were played in the same field used by cricketers.

Cricket at Heath End in the 1930s

Cricket at Heath End in the 1930s

Later on, the pitch was moved to the east of the village to the ‘Roly Poly’ field, the very name of which gave away the difficulties encountered during play.

In the first years after the opening of the new recreation ground, all the clubs made use of the old pavilion transported from Well Meadow.

There followed a succession of improvements and rebuilds until, in 2000, the new fully-equipped village hall was erected and, with it, a hard tennis court.

Photographs of Lodsworth sportsmen and women through the years brought back more memories.

Lodsworth Football Team in 1933

Lodsworth Football Team in 1933

However, in common with most villages, there was a major demographic change during the latter part of the century when younger families left for the towns and with more people owning their own cars, the close-knit relationship between the sports became fragmented.

Until that time nearly all players lived in Lodsworth and took part in all three sports. Today there is as much enthusiasm as ever for sport in Lodsworth, but fewer players are Lodsworthians.

Lodsworth Cricket Team in 1954

Lodsworth Cricket Team in 1954

Bishop of London and Matron of Girls' Heritage School playing stoolball in Lodsworth

Bishop of London and Matron of Girls' Heritage School playing stoolball in Lodsworth

Lodsworth tennis tournament of 1958 with Mrs S C Barnes presenting mixed doubles trophy to Miss T Carver and Mr D Harding

Lodsworth tennis tournament of 1958 with Mrs S C Barnes presenting mixed doubles trophy to Miss T Carver and Mr D Harding