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History of the club

From that first hot Cambridge afternoon in the May of 1956 to present day Rwanda, the Grannies story is the perfect antidote to Autumn's cruel ways.

One hot May afternoon in 1956, after a rather good lunch, three undergraduates of Corpus Christi College Cambridge, Michael Pougatch, Michael Broke and David Ramsbotham, were fielding in an offside arc. The ball kept being hit between them and through their legs so persistently that their skipper yelled at them "You are fielding like a lot of grannies". The response was electric from our three founders "That's it! That's the name of our Club!" - and the Grannies were born.

A week or two later David 'The Ram' fixed the first game against his old school Haileybury for their speech day, the games master being Tony Mallett ex. fast bowler for Kent. Arriving short of two, the Grannies were inserted and to the cheers of hundreds of parents were soon reduced to 19 for six. Disaster loomed when two reinforcements (one in a dinner jacket) arrived by Taxi from Cambridge. We eventually reached 157, Brian Shaw (former Chairman of the Port of London Authority) making our first fifty. Fortunately we had some bowlers, who dismissed the School XI for 110. Wild rejoicings celebrated our first victory.

A flag showing a red rocking chair on a blue ground was dreamed up by a girlfriend. Early members were Cambridge contemporaries to service the early dozen or so fixtures, against villagers, old boys clubs etc, each spawned by individuals on their home beat and often accompanied by memorable parties and barbecue. Word spread to Oxford graduates and friends who were more enthusiastic for the game than particularly skilful. An early highlight was the August weekend at Malvern where George Chesterton welcomed us with great joy: he and Pou introduced a long and happy tradition of Old Malvernians joining the Grannies and brought us many fine players like Richard Russell, Tim Begg, Nigel Draffan, Jon Staniforth, Michael Bluett, Grant Goldie, Mike Fernie and Pou's son Mark Pougatch.

In the late 60s, while Brokie and The Ram were fighting their way up their respective ladders of commercial property and the Army, Pou moved to Stonegate in East Sussex where he and Tim Villiers-Smith rapidly did a deal with the village to revive their cricket ground. For 25 years until 1994 we played up to 15 games a year there, out of a total fixture list which climbed at its peak to over 50 matches, before falling back to a more manageable 32 or so. Membership increased correspondingly until we now have some 150 playing members (plus another 150 or so non-playing members). Many are sons, stepsons, sons-in-law - and now grandsons.

Sadly Pou died in 1991, and interest in the Stonegate ground waned somewhat as the younger generation moved away. Under Nigel Draffan as Chairman and Mike Rogers as Treasurer, we reverted to being a wandering club without a specific home.

There have been many tours abroad, notably Hong Kong, Corfu, Canada, Malta, Brussels, Oporto, Geneva, Guernsey, Scotland (twice), the West Country and Paris, although less in recent years... until 2017.

The strength of The Grannies has always been in its ability to adapt and mould to the current conditions, a sort of cricketing Doctor Who. The 40th anniversary was celebrated at its birthplace, a match and a ball in Cambridge and as Mike Rogers moved up the ladder from Treasurer to Chairman, new recruits were always been cajoled, bribed and enticed to join - and not all of them related in some way to older members.

40 became 50 in 2006 and a day's racing at Goodwood and even a race named in The Grannies honour. Sadly time was called prematurely on Mike Rogers and then on Willoughby Wynne after a sparkling innings and the accession of Bob Percival to Chairman prompted a healthy influx of talented, eager barristers to the club. And we haven't yet received a single invoice for their time....

In October 2016, celebrations for The Grannies 60th culminating in a dinner at the RAC were notable for the affection in which the club is held across the generations - and for the generations themselves. Original members, in original blazers, from the 1950s and 1960s vintage, mixed with grandsons. David Ramsbotham, the only surviving founder following the death not long before of Michael Broke, gave a stirring speech and the dinner was memorable for the last Granny appearance of Sonia Pougatch before her passing.

At a time when many well known wandering clubs are struggling or have even folded, The Grannies continues to forge its very own idiosyncratic path, always adhering to the maxim of the founders from that hot May Day in 1956 that the game is there to be loved, to be shared and that there's no better sporting vehicle for fun and friendship. How the founders would chuckle and be proud that The Grannies are now heading off to Rwanda in October 2017 to take part in a tournament. Still 'unbending but unbowed.'

Mark Pougatch (Hon. Sec.)