Postscript to the Helm Spencer “incident” of 1937.

Those of you who were paying attention will recall that  there was uproar in 1937 when Helm Spencer was  twice given out against Burnley having walked away from his wicket, and then refused to leave the field, proving that all was not peace and understanding even then.

A postscript has been provided by Helm’s great-nephew, and staunch Lowerhouse supporter, Clive Spencer in the form of two clippings from the Burnley Express from some time in the 1980s, see attached copy.

It would seem that by then the incident was becoming the stuff of legend, and the details a matter of dispute.  Quaint as it may seem now, people (well, men) used to go to the pub to talk about such weighty matters, and even more quaintly, the local newspaper was happy to settle pub arguments by consulting their archives and devoting column inches to it.

The incident just gets better in the re-telling and the additional detail provided by Bill Fielding that Helm used to get struck on the forehead when attempting to sweep without it seeming to  bother him, may be revealing.

Also attached is a clipping from the pre-season players’ get together of April 1952, when Helm as elder statesman gave a pep talk, including the sound advice “on the field concentrate, do not relax, watch every move”.  Particularly when attempting the sweep shot.  The team look impressed.

As mentioned in the clipping, the pro for that year,  pictured seated front right, was Roy Marshall, newly arrived from Barbados for his second season with Lowerhouse. He  was apparently the son of a wealthy plantation owner, so Lowerhouse must have been some culture shock for him. He was only 22 then, and the following year he started an illustrious career with Hampshire which lasted almost 20 years, and he is acknowledged to have been a truly exciting batsman and a great player. According to an article written at the time, the ladies of Hampshire CCC put down their knitting when he came out to bat, such was the frisson of excitement he generated.

Ken Smalley and Bill Fielding are just two of the many people over the years who were  significant in the survival of the club.   The club history pages would welcome tributes to, or memories of, anyone connected with the club in the past, on or off the field.

Link to original piece on Helm Spencer

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