Southgate Cricket Club History

Four generations of the Walker family lived in the big house called Arnos Grove on Cannon Hill. There had been no great tradition of sporting achievement, but the seven Walker brothers got their love of cricket during their school and university days in 1855 and arranged for all the great teams of the day to visit the Waterfall Lane ground and play the village team.

For miles around, Southgate was soon to become the Mecca of cricket and in 1877 a Committee was elected. For Middlesex, the Walker brothers held every administrative office at some time or other and, whenever they played, one always captained the side.

Marquees and tents lined the ground, gaily bedecked with flags and bunting, providing shade from the sun and dispensing a variety of refreshment. The gentry would be in their finery for these special occasions, the ladies conspicuous in their crinoline dresses and brightly coloured parasols. The mass of the crowd, from all walks of life and from all parts of London, added to the hubbub of excitement. Travel to the ground was on special trains run by the Railway Company to Colney Hatch Station (now called New Southgate). There was indeed a carnival atmosphere.


The three eldest Walker Brothers played their cricket for the village team, then called Southgate Albert, on a very bumpy Chapel fields wicket. John, the eldest, spent large sums on re-turfing the ground to encourage a better standard of play. He founded Southgate Cricket Club.

In the middle of the 19th century, the organisation of cricket, both at club and county level, was sadly lacking. The Walkers were primarily responsible for raising a Middlesex team in 1859, founding the Middlesex County Cricket Club in 1864 and establishing the home of the country at Lords.

The seven brothers all became first class cricketers, the very backbone of Middlesex and all played in many representative matches. Test cricket did not start until 1877, prior to which teams would be labeled “England” or “an England XI”, and four of the brothers played in such teams.

Reference must be made to perhaps the greatest cricketer of all the brothers, Vyell Edward Walker, who took 10 wickets in an innings on three occasions. A great all rounder, he stood head and shoulders above all his contemporaries in the game he graced for so long. His knowledge and sound judgment were so universally respected, that he served for years on the M.C.C.

The United All England XI would come to do battle with the sixteen men of Southgate. It is wondrous to think crowds of up to 10,000 would flock to the Chapel Fields (now the Walker Ground) to witness these great matches. The youngsters would be in the ground early for a good position. Admission was free. The famous brass band of the 2nd Life Guards provide the music.

Christ Church, and the Walker Ground opposite, still serve to remind us today of the benevolence, long after their passing. They were wealthy benefactors who cared for the village and its people and came to be highly respected, not only for their generosity, but also for their willing involvement in community life.

Past Players

P.C.R. Tufnell

Middlesex League Statistics:

572.5 overs, 150 maidens, 1566 runs, 95 wickets, average 16.48, best bowling: 7-4

Tufnell 001

The Bad Boy of English cricket in the 1990s, but the best spinner – left-arm or otherwise – as well. With a kick of the back leg, a skip and a jump, he had an approach to the wicket that is all his own, but Tufnell had great control of flight – he talked of his “ball on a string” – and tended to beat batsmen in the air rather than off the pitch. And the arm ball was hard to spot. His batting was more straightforward, and consisted of the shuffle to square leg when facing the fast bowlers or the optimistic waft outside off stump. Known as The Cat because of his love of dressing-room naps, he purred into action in his fifth Test against West Indies at The Oval in 1991, and produced another matchwinning performance in Christchurch that winter. But a troubled private life, a strained relationship with the establishment, and some uninspired captaincy meant he has been in and out of the team since then. Only occasionally has he returned to his mischievous, attacking best, although his Middlesex career, kickstarted by an irresistible partnership with John Emburey, never stalled. In April 2003, however, he abruptly retired from first-class cricket, to become the unlikely star of a reality TV show. Rarely seen without a beer and a fag, Tufnell has always been something of a folk hero, and he milked that to the full to carve out a successful career on TV and radio.
Coutesty of Lawrence Booth