Our Heritage Story

Carnegie Cricket Club Celebrates 60 Years

Never mind the Ashes, did you know there’s a south London Cricket Club named after our Carnegie Library?  Read about this historical tie-up in the following article by Mr Derek Gift-Simms, reproduced by kind permission of the African Caribbean Cricket Association from the May 2015 issue of their Newsletter.  A fascinating story from our heritage.  Also below is the ACCA’s own mission statement.

 Carnegie Cricket Club logo

Carnegie Cricket Club celebrates 60 years

Carnegie Cricket Club recently celebrated its (sixtieth) 60th anniversary. At the conclusion of the Second World War there was a shortage of labour in the British Isles whilst in the Caribbean Islands there was large scale unemployment. However, the unemployed in those islands preferred to immigrate to the United States for employment. The 1950s and 1960s saw periods of strong economic expansion with employment opportunities in textile, metal manufacture, healthcare and transport, low paid and long hours. The jobs generally involved shift work which did not attract or appeal to British workers. In 1952 the McCarran-Walter Immigration Act temporarily halted Caribbean immigration to the United States. With the United States closing its doors for the employment of Caribbean workers Britain with its shortage of labour became a popular choice for employment purposes.

The National Health Service and London Transport recruited workers in large numbers directly from the Caribbean islands while other industries gladly provide employment for those emigrants on arrival on the shores of Britain. Among those immigrants were a number of talented young cricketers who had learned and loved the game of cricket from birth. The game of cricket was the ‘religion’ in the British Caribbean islands. Inevitably the young men would want to continue to be involved in their ‘religion’. During the 1950s the British politicians and policymakers were ‘hesitant and ambiguous and little positive was done to assist in their (British Caribbean immigrants) settlement, integration and acceptance’. The politicians and policymakers were aware at the beginning of British Caribbean immigration that the new workers would face hostile racial prejudice from the majority of the host population. These talented young cricketers had to contend with hideous racial prejudice at work and on the cricket field to name a few places. The local cricket clubs generally did not welcome them as members. Consequently they were forced to establish their own cricket clubs hence the arrival of Carnegie Cricket Club in 1955 at Ruskin Park, near the primary settlement of Caribbean islands nationals in Brixton. The cricket club took its name from the nearby Carnegie Library in Herne Hill Road. Since 1955 Carnegie Cricket Club has played continuously as a ‘wandering team’ during the summer months until 2013 when they found a ‘home’ at Sinjuns Grammarians Cricket Club ground situated between Trinity Road and Beechcroft Road in Tooting, south-west London.

This year, 2015, Carnegie is celebrating 60 years as a cricket club.

The club played on the following County Cricket Club grounds:
Mote Park, Maidstone (Kent),
Cheriton Road, Folkestone (Kent),
Midland Bank Sport Ground, Beckenham (Kent),
The Saffrons, Eastbourne (Sussex),
Arundel Castle Cricket Ground (Sussex),
The Cricket Field Road Ground, Horsham (Sussex),
Kenton Court Meadows. Sunbury-on-Thames (Surrey),
Decca Sports Ground, Tolworth (Surrey),
Imber Court, East Molesey (Surrey),
British Aerospace Company Ground, Byfleet, (Surrey),
County Ground Leyton (Essex),
Southchurch Park, Southend-on-Sea (Essex),
Chalkwell Park, Westcliff-on-Sea (Essex),
…to name a few venues.

The history of Carnegie Cricket Club cannot be completed without including the club’s first and iconic administrator Robert ‘Bob’ Milne, a British national, who served unstintingly from 1955 to 1983. He was the ‘rock ’ of the cricket club and it can be safely said that during his reign (yes, he was reigning) he was ‘King Bob’ of Carnegie CC. With ‘King Bob’ at the helm of the cricket club and his administrative skills Carnegie Cricket Club moved from playing in local parks to competing on County Cricket Club grounds against the best cricket club teams in south east England. During those years the cricket club has had some wonderfully talented cricketers. The club has produced, from its humble beginning, four professional cricketers during the aforementioned years to include the late Dennis Marriott (Surrey County Cricket Club and Middlesex County Cricket Club), Lonsdale Skinner (Surrey County Cricket Club and Guyana), Leroy Parris (MCC Young Professionals) and Dillon Levius (MCC Young Professional). Club member Joe Fortune turned out for Essex County Cricket Club Second Eleven, while Wendell McCall played for Middlesex County Cricket Club Second Eleven. Other outstanding cricketers that must be mentioned are Cedric Gobin (Guyana), Cardo Brown (Jamaica), Winston ‘Buss’ Reid (Jamaica), Bertie Brown (Barbados), Calstone Bascombe (Barbados), Ashton Sherwood (Jamaica) and Henderson Phillips (Barbados). Cedric Gobin represented the Club Cricket Conference on a number of occasions.

Most of these cricketers had played high standard club cricket in their native countries with West Indies Test players and their island’s first class cricketers. The club cricket these players were associated with before venturing to England was of a much higher standard than English club cricket. At that time on those Caribbean islands all first class cricketers, including West Indies Test players, played regular high standard club cricket. So to be included in those cricket teams all players had to be of the highest standard.

This year Carnegie Cricket Club is celebrating its 60th Anniversary and its evolution from a Caribbean islands immigrant cricket club to a reputable sporting organisation that is worthy of recognition by the cricket authorities in England. The club’s growth has seen it moved from playing on the open common fields in south east and south west London to numerous County Club grounds in Kent, Surrey, Sussex, and Essex. Despite its early handicap of playing in sub-standard conditions the club miraculously produced four professional cricketers, a number of County Cricket Club Second Eleven players and at least one Club Cricket Conference representative. Credit must be showered on the late Robert ‘Bob’ Milne for his pioneering work in getting Carnegie Cricket Club [recognised] as equal by the once racially prejudiced cricket clubs in south-east England.

Carnegie – Today

It will be quite a task for Carnegie Cricket Club to source players who have the ability to play the level of cricket which its early players were accustomed to. Subsequent generations of the players mentioned in the above article have lost interest in the sport. It was also stated that Carnegie was until very recently a wandering club. By agreeing to residence at Trinity Fields; Sinjuns Grammarians Cricket Club have committed to form a close working relationship which will provide mutual benefits for both clubs. An attempt to forge this relationship was initiated long before the establishment of the ACCA. However; the ACCA has encouraged and continue to support Carnegie Cricket Club in accepting the challenge of venturing into unfamiliar territory. Both clubs recently worked together on the pre-season preparation of the clubhouse, dressing rooms. This involved general repairs and painting. Carnegie will play (eight) 8 of their 24 fixture at their new home, this season and hope to increase that number next season by encouraging some of the teams which it has visited over the years to reciprocate. Other key joint initiatives which both clubs have embarked on are efforts to engage with the youth of their community and encourage more of them to participate in cricket. Sinjuns Grammarians have an established relationship with local schools and run indoor winter programmes for them. As of May 10th both clubs started junior cricket coaching sessions on Sunday mornings. These sessions are run between 09:30 and 11:30. A summer camp is also being planned for junior cricketers. If you need further details please contact:

 Derek Gift-Simms
+4477 4371 7200

                                             AFRICAN CARIBBEAN CRICKET ASSOCIATIONACCA logoOur mission is to inspire UK residents of African and Caribbean heritage to play and to excel at cricket and to obtain the necessary skills, knowledge and accreditation to enable them to promote succession and be involved in coaching and administration from grassroots to the highest level.

ACCA (African Caribbean Cricket Association) will uphold and promote the spirit of cricket and its values of transparency, inclusiveness and fairness.

Over the years questions have been asked by cricket lovers in England and outside of these islands about growing absence of African Caribbean cricketers on the field of play and the missing Black fans at cricket grounds, especially at international matches. The numbers of African Caribbean people participating in the noble game of cricket have dropped dramatically since our most recent arrival in the United Kingdom in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s.

Today young people of African Caribbean heritage show scant interest in the game. Since most of us (parents and grandparents) of Caribbean heritage were weaned on the beautiful game of cricket we assumed that our children and grandchildren would follow the same route into becoming involved in the game. Unfortunately our assumptions are wrong. We somehow forget that we are living in quite a different environment and culture to that of the Caribbean. Consequently we have failed our young people by not introducing them to the game.

In an effort to rectify the problem a group of cricket lovers called the African Caribbean Cricket Association has evolved following a meeting in March, 2013 organized by the International Cricket Council (ICC) in conjunction with the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) to promote the 2013 ICC World Cup matches among the African Caribbean communities.

The African Caribbean Cricket Association is working towards re-invigorating the love for the game of cricket within the older element of the African Caribbean communities and introducing the game to the young people of those communities.

 The ACCA is seeking the help and assistance of people who are interested in re-vitalizing the game of cricket in the African Caribbean communities in general and among the young people in particular.