Hornchurch stalwart Shewring, 83, is leading way when it comes to longevity
PUBLISHED: 13:00 01 May 2020
With local cricket clubs waiting to see if they will manage to play any fixtures in 2020, due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, we are launching a new series looking at the careers of our oldest playing members.
And who better to start with than Doug Shewring, who celebrates his 83rd birthday in June, when he would have been expecting to turn out for Hornchurch 5th XI.
Shewring has been a member at the Harrow Lodge club for more than half a century and had lots of tales to tell from that time.
He learnt to play while at Eastbrook School in Dagenham and said: “We had a concrete strip with matting on top. I lived in Kent Road and Suffolk Road, near Dagenham & Redbridge Football Club.
“When I left school in 1952, I went to work for Phoenix Timber in Rainham. They were the largest employer in Havering at the time and I played for their football and cricket teams.
“We would play friendlies and I would open the batting with John Hillman and bowl occasionally. When PTC Sports packed up in 1963 I went to Chadwell Heath and played on Sundays with relations from my mother’s side, the Thorogoods, Brewsters and Martins.”
Shewring went on to play a couple of games for Hornchurch in 1965 before joining the club, with ‘concrete records’ showing that to have been in 1967.
“It was a lot different to now. You had to mind your Ps and Qs with the older members,” he said.
“It’s free and easy now. The youngsters don’t know who you are!”
One of Shewring’s earliest appearances for Hornchurch came against Epping in 1968, alongside one of the club’s all-time greats.
He added: “I played with Tom Mitchell, father of Roger. He came out of retirement and took 3-7 in his only game that season and his last game. He finished with over 1,800 wickets.”
And when asked to name the best player he has played with in his time at the club, he said: “Roger Mitchell. He was a good batsman and bowler, with about 1,100 wickets and lots of runs. He retired many years ago and is in America now, in his late 80s.”
As for the one person he would call his ‘best team-mate’ he was quick to recall one of his very first, adding: “John Hillman was a proper gentleman. He was captain of the 3rd XI for a long time and always made things easy and praised you. He always had a good word.
“We were on tour in Brighton in the 1980s, John was in his 60s, and someone was complaining at the hotel about the lads getting up to some tricks, climbing on things and John was in the lobby at the time and when he said he was one of the club members, they were very surprised!”
Shewring also recalled tours to Bournemouth and Spain, with his best story coming from the 1985 game at Keymer & Hassocks in West Sussex.
“We were fielding and I was chasing the ball to the boundary, on a slope,” he said.
“I was running fast after the ball as it went towards a big hedge and as I got there I realised it was really prickly so I turned my back and disappeared. When I emerged all the fielders and their batsmen were laughing their heads off!”
Favourite grounds played at include Radlett, Colchester’s Castle Park and Monken Hadley, from where Shewring recalled another tale.
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“I got my 50th wicket of the season at Monken Hadley one year and I broke the bail!” he said. “I’ve got it at home, engraved by Trophyland!”
When it came to cricketing heroes of his Shewring named two of the Essex greats.
“Trevor Bailey and Keith Fletcher,” he said. “I used to go to watch Essex and remember going to Southend with my father to watch the Australians in 1948. We went on the second day after they had scored 721 on the first day and Essex were out twice in a day!”
A quick check of the records shows the great Don Bradman top scored with 187 for the tourists – Bailey took 2-128 – and Essex were skittled for 83 and followed on.
Having slumped to 46-6, a 131-run stand between captain TN Pearce (71) and TPB Smith (54) saved some face, but Essex still lost by an innings and 451 runs!
“My grandfather took me to my first-ever game,” recalled Shewring. “It was at The Oval and it was between the England and Australian women, who were playing in skirts!”
As for his own playing exploits over the years, Shewring revealed a pair of six-fers as his best bowling, including one at Brookweald, and a top score fo 65 not out.
“I’ve rarely opened at Hornchurch, but I have batted through the innings a couple of times,” he said.
“I’m not the quickest of scorers, I played my way in steadily. And I don’t bat so much now, nine, 10 or 11, trying to get a draw depending on how the game is.”
Nonetheless, the right-hand batsman has accumulated ‘5,100 runs if you round it up’ and scored three half-centuries for the club, from a grand total of 792 innings – with 277 not outs!
And having played in every XI fielded by Hornchurch, apart from a one-off 7th XI match many years ago, he has claimed 1,191 wickets to stand among the all-time front-runners, including the late Peter Edwards (approxiimately 1,500) and current acting chairman Marc Whitlock (1,257).
When it comes to quoting statistics, Shewring is certainly well placed as official guardian of club records.
“I’ve got all the Hornchurch records and update them every year, going way back,” he said.
“Pete Edwards and I used to do everything. Don Miller helps me now. We’ve got papers going back to 1790 (the club was formed in 1783). We’ve got minute books from the early 1800s when the AGMs would give all the records from games.
“The earliest recorded century was by HJ Jarvis (105 not out) against Dagenham on June 3, 1893. And only three people have taken over 100 wickets in a season: AL Forrester took 120 in 1893, Roy French took 101 in 1993 and Bob Joyce took 100 in 1986.”
Asked to name his favourite Hornchurch players of recent times, Shewring picked ‘an exceptionally good player’ in Ian Flanagan and current captain Billy Gordon, who led the club to an Essex League treble in 2018.
“Billy’s now got our highest score of 211 not out and the best-ever partnership of 323 with Merv Westfield in the Conference Cup last year,” he said.
“Only Paul Murray and Sean Perry have scored double hundreds and Cameron Nupier is the only person to take all 10 wickets in an innings at Shenfield, when he also scored a hundred. The only time that has happened in the Essex League.”
This summer could see another first in the Essex League, if no play is possible. Shewring was set to play at Old Brentwoods 3rd XI on the May 9 opening day. Here’s hoping there are some matches still to come.
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