25 years of the VCC

In 1982 a deal was struck with Michael Hopkins (now Sir Michael Hopkins) that if Chris won any money in an Architectural Competition that some of the money could be spent to form an office cricket team. The entry came second and won £2,000 and about £500 was spent on kit and booking pitches on Wednesday evenings in Regents Park.

The first “ringer” in the office team was Richard Baldwin, then an earnest aspiring handsome young Quantity Surveyor with a passion for all things architectural and a beat up Hillman Avenger.

Other teams of Architects were the opponents and the Hopkins team included Nigel Stock, Nic Bewick now a top Architect in Milan, Jim Eyre now OBE for services to Architecture, Ian Sharratt one of the most successful Architects in England, Robin Snell who designed the recently shelved Fulham Football Stadium, Peter Romanuik now married to Paula Prike, Florists to the Queen and Elton John.

During the second season, one by one the Architects dropped away and Martin Stockman, who had moved in to the flat below Chris in Belsize Park, started to play regularly and introduced David Hooper, Jeff Walkden, Martin Oaksmonger, and Phil Sharkey. Collectively known as “The Radlett”. They graced the team with tales of shared girlfriends, wanton mayhem at the Radlett War Memorial and messing with honest folk’s milk bottles. (Note to milkman: “Your milk tastes like piss, have some of ours”).

Richard meanwhile introduced Gary Ward, Julian Farino and Sabo collectively known as “The Croydon Jazz Funk” with tales of listening to Robbie Vincent and little else. By now Chris was only known as Skip and organizing weekend matches at far away places like Cambridge, Heyshott, Staplefield, Laxfield. Anywhere with a decent pub and a crap cricket team. The regular meeting place after midweek matches was “The Village Curry Centre” in Belsize Village and as there was only one Architect playing regularly the V.C.C was born and an amazing cricket team has evolved. Tim Graham (the Saint) joined the team and for a while we became the best dressed cricketers in North London.

Under Saint’s guidance, the V.C.C has had numerous media coups both individually and collectively. The finest hour was the team’s appearance on the unforgettable Saturday morning tv slot No73 to publicize a 48 hour cricket marathon to raise money for Charity. The event on Parliament Hill raised over £5,000 for charity but almost split the team when Sharkey delivered his immortal line “Charity begins at home and that’s where I’m going”. Sadly that’s also where he’s stayed.

After a search for a President which included letters and fantastic replies from Michael Palin, David Attenborough and the late Harold Pinter, Ken Livingstone then Leader of the GLC kindly agreed although he has been singularly uninterested in us or our activities throughout his long tenure. Regents Park was abandoned because of the bad pitches, dangerous to batsmen facing Phil Sharkey or Gary Ward and the VCC became a wandering side. The first overseas tour was to Ireland. Over the years we have become more adventurous with tours to Malta, Italy, Paris, Spain, Barbados, Manila, Hong Kong and Cape Town in 2004 which has seen us twinned with the Township team of Nyanga.

The fortunes of the side have fluctuated as players have moved away, got married, had children etc. but remarkably the majority of the team from 1984 is still intact. The Club has gone from strength to strength over the past few years. This is particularly due to the arrival in 2001 of Jonty Savitt (Lord Ozone, The Walrus are but a few of his nicknames) with a huge injection of private wealth as our first sponsor and Captain for three seasons 2005-2008 — a man undergoing a mid life crisis — and the 2003 captain Aamer Mughal and his globetrotting brother and current sponsor Atif. Don Ewing has been a fantastic fixtures secretary — now handed over to Chris Hurd as the mantle passes to the young turks who constantly refresh the fixture list with the addition of some of the prettiest “cricketing” villages in England.

The young turks include our present Captain Ben Madden, the sharpest mind off the pitch but unfortunately the bluntest on it. Other new members include Max our Treasurer and Rick “the beast” Barker, yet to hold office due to a series of disastrous election speeches of which John McCain would be proud, but surely only a matter of time.

The new heroes have re-galvanized the side and also introduced other younger and better players making the “legends” distinctly nervous. 25 years on it is quite amazing and a constant source of great pleasure that the team goes from strength to strength in everything apart from results. We aim to win but more importantly try to play cricket in the right way. The V.C.C. are always looking for new players. If you think you would like to join us please get in touch.

Contact; info@theVCC.co.uk