By Frank Smith
EALING are already one of the country’s leading club sides but there is a belief at their Corfton Road ground they are only going to get better.
The west London side won the fiercely competitive Middlesex County League for an unprecedented seventh year in a row in 2011 and also claimed the national t20 title that summer.
They have not won their league since but by lifting the national t20 trophy once again this year, they indicated good times could again be around the corner for the 144-year-old club.
Nine of the 14-man squad which were victorious in the finals day in September had been colts with the club and they are a team who are improving, although former Middlesex bowler and long-standing Ealing player Chris Peploe has stressed the importance of patience.
Peploe said: “I think the club are in a period of change and the group of players that put together that unbelievable run of league titles and cup success is old and on its way out but the club itself has grown phenomenally.
“We have great structures in place with the colts section and a lot of the youngsters are starting to establish themselves now.
“They were around the club during that period of success and hopefully now they are ready to take the club forward to be successful once again. But it is a slow process.
“Like any club or country that go through a period of dominance, there will always be a bit of a lull but we will always be a powerhouse in club cricket.”
Peploe is just one of many former Ealing colts who have gone on to play first-class cricket.
Keith Tomlins and Simon ‘The Analyst’ Hughes are two of those who have represented both Ealing and Middlesex, while current Leicestershire wicketkeeper-batsman Ned Eckersley and Middlesex duo Harry Podmore and Robbie White are others who learned their trade at the club. Arthur Godsal is the latest rising star out of the club and is an England U17 international.
But the club has also been a great home for elderly cricketers and in 2011 three men played in the same team together for an incredible 56th season.
Ill-health to Bob Fisher’s wife meant he had to finish playing cricket that year but Alan Price carried on for a further year and John Lindley was still padding up for Ealing until last year, before the 74-year-old stopped the commute from Dorset every weekend to play more locally, having also been the west London club’s fixture secretary for almost 40 years.
‘Caught Fisher, bowled Lindley’ was a mainstay on Ealing scorecards for decades after the pair played together in the club’s first colts fixture in 1955 and they were joined by Alan Price a year later.
The figures since are truly remarkable: Lindley took 4,146 wickets for Ealing and scored 18,440 runs; Price struck 37,025 and claimed 3,586 wickets; and Fisher made 1,219 catches, 510 stumpings and made 10,209 runs.
All three are vice-presidents of the club and Fisher, 76, is also an Ealing trustee, while Price, 74, has also moved away to Peterborough.
“We are proud of what we achieved at the club and also the roles we played in helping the club,” Fisher said.
“They are both great friends of mine, not just on the field but off it also. Our families are all friends and our children all grew up together.
“Unfortunately I lost my wife in February this year but Pricey and Lindley have been there for me throughout the difficult time and I know they will always be there for me.
“We are all great, great friends.”
Fisher has been a member since the colts were set up in 1955 but his affiliation with the club goes back even further, to 1951 when he helped his father with the scoreboard.
He is hugely proud of the club’s colts section and believes the current first team can enjoy dominance like the side of a few years back.
“I don’t think our record of winning seven league titles will ever be surpassed,” Fisher said.
“But I’m sure the current group will go on to enjoy some dominance. They are as good as any side in the county league.
“I think we are one of the best teams in the country because the Middlesex County League is as strong as any other premier division in the country and we have been there or thereabouts every year.
“We have won it seven years in a row, we have reached the national cup final four times, which won’t have been surpassed by many, and although we haven’t won it yet, just reaching the final is an immense achievement in itself.”
He continued: “My main hope moving forward is that we continue to be successful and we continue the escalation of our youth cricket.
“In the last two or three years we have formed girls’ sides and in the coming season we will have a ladies’ side.
“We have always only had one major ground so the 3rds, 4ths and 5ths have always had limited chances to play at our ground but a couple of years ago we took over Hanwell CC who were struggling to survive financially so we could use a second ground and we are currently negotiating with the London Borough of Ealing for a third ground, Popes Field, not far away from our ground, which has been derelict for a number of years.
“So we are not only trying to develop on the field, we are also focusing on the infrastructure of the club so we can continue to provide cricket to all those young lads and girls.
“When you go to our ground on a Sunday morning, it is full of young kids, which is tremendous to see.”
Peploe was one of them once and he stressed the impact Ealing had on his development not only as a cricketer but also as a person.
The 34-year-old hopes Ealing can be a leading light for young cricketers and believes it is “vitally important for the county that our club strives to lead the way when it comes to colts’ cricket”.
He added: “We are a club that at grassroots level is ticking the boxes when it comes to developing cricketers who can play at county level. The one box we haven’t ticked as a club is having an international so hopefully we can do that one day.”
This piece originally featured in The Cricket Paper on Friday October 30, 2015