"Brentwood" by D.A. Williams
Do you remember Brentwood
Where Essex used to play
On a sporting wicket
Every year in May?
Do you remember Silcock
And Round, and Green, and Pickett?
When Essex first played cricket
At Brentwood, years ago?
Players there were gentlemen
Except for one or two.
They whiled away the golden hours
Those Parsons, not a few
And soldiers, lawyers and the lucky ones
From Public Schools. Filling in their time
Until a generation of their sons
Fell victims of the Flanders guns,
And Shenfield Road was filled with trucks
On the way to Warley Barracks.
I remember Brentwood later
A pleasant tree-lined ground
Where we smoked our pipes
In peace, and sat around the boundary rope
And watched the first Cudmore and Pope,
Then Avery and Dodds
Open the innings.
Then Bailey with his forward prods
Saved matches all against the odds.
Massive scores and weary feet
For bowlers when the pitch played true.
With Michael Bear from “up the road”
And Gordon Barker small and neat
Essex fortunes ebbed and flowed.
Then the ghost of Kortright, buried near
Must have often shed a tear
And whispered to the ghost of Fane
“Essex have just lost again.”
They do not play at Brentwood now.
The umpires in their long white coats, and players
All have gone.
Uneconomic, so they cried
Much too small………..
…….So Brentwood died.
Very little is known about the author, D A Williams. This poem originally appeared in the Autumn 1984 edition of the Journal of the Cricket Society.
The references to relatively unsung players like Michael Bear and Gordon Barker suggest that he was an Essex supporter, and mention of Warley Barracks might point to him being a local man.
Commendable though the poem undoubtedly is, we must take issue with the last section. Brentwood might have “died” so far as County cricket is concerned (although as a venue it is alive and well for the County’s Over-50s and Over-60s), but as a place at which to play – or watch – cricket, Brentwood is of course still thriving. A straw poll was conducted during the course of last season amongst a number of ex-club cricketers who still follow their former clubs in the Premier Division of the Essex League to select an ‘ideal’ Division of clubs based on the quality and aesthetic appeal of their grounds rather than their current playing strength. None of the pollsters was connected with Brentwood: nonetheless, Brentwood finished very high up in the poll.
The Old County Ground might be too small for county cricket nowadays, but for sheer visual beauty, if nothing else, what would you rather watch – Essex vs Derby at the Garons Ground at Southend, or Brentwood vs anybody at the OCG……?