Public School Magazine, November 1900
TO the batsman who prefers his century to consist of twenty-five fours rather than a hundred singles, Tonbridge is an ideal spot for a cricket match. The ground is the size of a somewhat bloated tennis lawn, and boundaries meet the eye on every side, splendid in their nearness. The wicket is like just such another billiard-table, and the turf is a credit to the soil which produced it. Every modern comfort is provided. Here a telegraph board of the latest pattern, registering an individual fifty or hundred on a special line of its own. There the pavilion—with scorer’s box all complete, far from the madding crowd. This crowd, by the way, sets a good example to visiting Schools by its sportsmanlike applause. No distinction whatever is made between friend and foe. Good batting and good fielding meet with their reward, whoever is responsible for them.
The pavilion is a feast for the eye internally. The changing-room is adorned with photographs of teams—good photographs, too, and well kept. There is a carpet. There are hooks capable of performing their duty, not broken off short as is the custom in most pavilions. There is scented soap, and sponges—gigantic sponges, specially designed for the undoing of visiting teams, who invariably yield to their fatal fascination, and spend most of the day in putting their eye out by continual washing. After the washing they get mopped up by the wily Tonbridgians.
At one end of the ground is a bank; at the other a precipice, at the foot of which is another cricket ground. The light-screen is placed at the top of the bank, and on the seats round about assemble the rank and fashion of the neighbourhood. You get a splendid view of the match from these seats—a sort of semi-bird’s-eye view.
Behind these seats is yet another cricket ground, a very small one, looking to the uninitiated more like a putting-green than a wicket, yet every foot of it fit for a Gentlemen v. Players match.
From a batsman’s point of view, the beauty of the first eleven ground lies in the fact that any moderately proficient disciple of Jessop can ignore the deep fields at the bank end altogether, and put the ball over their heads with comparative ease. At the precipice end it is different; the fieldsman has elbow-room, and can make use of it. Big scoring and quick scoring is frequent on this ground. In 1899 the Town ran up 314 for four wickets, and then declared, whereupon the School weighed in with 302 for two, F. V. Hutchings compiling 178 not out. The Kent cricketer, W. W. Rashleigh, made 203 against Dulwich when he was a Tonbridge boy, and a few years ago W. A. Lobb and F. P. Knox for Dulwich, put together 190 for the first wicket, a Dulwich record. All that was needed to set the seal upon these great deeds was the customary double century, which was duly scored by Marriott in 1899 in a house-match. Marriott was captain in that year, which made his performance all the more gratifying.
Tonbridge usually have a very strong team of what might be called the upper-middle class. That is to say, they would probably succumb to schools such as Eton, Harrow, Uppingham, and Malvern, but would run for the first place among the others.
The chief cricket fixtures are with Clifton and Dulwich. The Clifton match is a plant of recent growth, but Tonbridge has played Dulwich since the Conquest, and generally beaten them. Perhaps the best match of the series was the one in 1897, when Tonbridge won by 8 runs. This year Dulwich won for the first time during the last 7 years. Tonbridgians play a curious sort of game in the evenings of the Summer term after the matches are finished. It is a kind of stump-cricket. Specially-made bats and racquet balls are used, and the game seems little inferior to the real one. It is very good for the fielding of the School.
Another of the attractions of Tonbridge is the Shop, where everything imaginable in the way of edibles is sold. Experts whisper that the ices have a divinity all their own.
Published unsigned in Public School Magazine; entered by Wodehouse as “a short article on Tonbridge School” in Money Received for Literary Work.