Roger hangs up his bat
CRICKETER Roger Coates is declaring from a sport he has always loved after nearly 50 years playing for his cricket team in Letchworth GC. Corinthian Cricket Club recently closed due to lack of players; however, the 70-year-old from Lawrence Avenue, Letchw
CRICKETER Roger Coates is declaring from a sport he has always loved after nearly 50 years playing for his cricket team in Letchworth GC.
Corinthian Cricket Club recently closed due to lack of players; however, the 70-year-old from Lawrence Avenue, Letchworth GC, has been batting away boredom by turning his hand to golf.
He would also like to coach young people interested in becoming cricketers themselves someday to enjoy the sport like he did for so many years.
Roger was an important part of the club and the team. On a number of occasions he scored more than 1,000 runs in a season and is the only man to have played every season, 45 in total. He regularly opened the batting, scoring a number of centuries. He was also a medium pace and off-spin bowler.
The club was formed in 1961 and began playing a year later. It was founded by members that played for the St John's Parents Association for which Roger had been playing since 1959.
Their home ground was the Baldock Road Recreation Ground, on a matting wicket laid on concrete, and during the first season they played around 25 matches, two games most weekends.
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However, for the last few years the Corinthians had no home ground so they became a travelling side, playing only away fixtures which were reduced to one a weekend.
Roger said: "We didn't take ourselves too seriously, but, like everyone else, we liked to win."
He liked to win so much that he used to have to rush back from holidays so he could play.
He describes their cricket as "the nicest form - village cricket" but says that their survival was grim as the game is league-driven now, which means being able to offer a return fixture.
However, they continued with fixtures which included Ashford in Kent for a few seasons and Blenheim Palace on the Duke of Marlborough's lawn for a number of years.
Many games stick in Roger's mind, although it is hard to single out just one highlight, and there were stories along the way.
Roger said: "We used to have trouble finding grounds. I can remember at Markyate one day, when Peter Wood was captain, we didn't find the ground until 3.30pm, which is not very good when you're supposed to be there at 2pm."
Roger was one of the team captains for 20 years. Others included Tony Maylin, Dave Turner, Dave Brown, Mike Hughes and Peter Wood, the original captain.
Roger shies away from listing his achievements though and insists that others have been equally important. For example Dave Turner is the only Corinthians bowler to have claimed 100 wickets in a season.
Some players left their legacy in the team and it was quite a family affair. Three members of the Hughes family played for the Corinthians. Tony Hughes, the original team secretary, introduced his son Mike to the game who became the star player for 15 years and his sons Christopher and Stephen Hughes, who are still at school, have played for the last couple of years.
New members were normally recruited through relatives or friends. However, it was seen as a luxury if they had the full 11 ready to play.
Roger believes changing times affected their numbers. He said: "In the old days you didn't have much to do apart from play cricket. There weren't many people with cars 40 years ago so you had a good chance of getting picked if you had a car."
Roger has lived in Letchworth GC nearly all his life. He started out working at Barclays Bank before doing national service for two years. He then landed a job in the city in asset management before retiring 10 years ago.
A reunion recently took place for past club members at the home of 2006 captain Mike Hughes in Letchworth GC.
Roger is sad at the demise of the club but proud at having witnessed all their achievements. He said: "In the early days we had a very good side. I am very pleased that over recent years, although we have had a less talented side, we gave our opponents a good game. I am probably the only one who can comment on that, having played all the while!