In his playing days at Roffey Cricket Club, local cricket researcher, historian and author Dave Boorman vowed one day he would write the history of cricket in the parish from the earliest times through to the Great War.
However, time passed and other projects got in the way. In 2014 he resurrected the idea, thinking that it would be an opportune commemoration of the side’s first Sussex Premier League title.
Because there was an unexpectedly large volume of material out there, the club had completed a hat-trick of titles before Boorman finally completed his magnum opus, which runs to 80,000 words.
Boorman has plenty of experience writing about local cricketing themes: in 2004 he wrote a full-length history of Nuthurst Cricket Club, while three years later he compiled a Centenary History of the Horsham Festival of Cricket Week.
Other forays into the byways rather than highways of cricket in Kent and Sussex followed, but although blown off course from time to time, Boorman never forgot his self-imposed promise to explore Roffey’s early history.
And what a story there is to tell. An early club flourished in the 1880s but then mysteriously floundered.
The club was reformed in 1898 and thanks to the generosity of the Innes family of Roffey Park, were given a new ground in 1904, which is still their home today.
But Boorman is as much interested in the social as well as the cricketing side of things. Despite one of its founding fathers being knighted by David Lloyd George and appointed Governor of Western Australia, the early Roffey club was strongly-reflective of its closely-knit, working-class community – indeed prided itself on being a club for working men, run by working men.
Complete with brief newspaper reports of many early matches, the book conjures up images that are reassuringly familiar on one level, but a fascinating glimpse into a vanished world on another.
A History of Cricket in Roffey up to the Great War is available direct from Dave Boorman at 9 Amberley Close, Roffey RH12 4LL. For moe information contact 01403 266438 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org).
The book costs £15.99, plus, where appropriate, P&P of £3.30. The print run is small, so the advice is to get in quick.