In the same issue of the Leicester Chronicle, Saturday 10 September 1870, that brought back first hand accounts of the defeat of the French army in their fight against the invading Germans, came the report of the smaller-scale sporting content between Shearsby and Broughton Astley. “This is living in a crisis with a vengeance”, reported the Chronicle’s Special Correspondent in Paris “On the Boulevards the mob formed into bodies, and ‘trooped’ down to the French House of Commons, crying out ‘Decheance’ which means deposition, and being applied to the Imperial Dynasty might be politely interpreted, ‘kick them out’.”
The cricket scores, meanwhile, were reported in a plainer, matter-of-fact style, with just of table of runs scored and how each lost their wicket. The team from Shearsby had won by 58 runs after the first innings. The difference could be almost all credited to A.Buswell, the opening batsman for Shearsby who passed the half century mark before being caught out by Broughton Astley’s own opening batsman T. Bird at 57. P. Ringrose, meanwhile, added 15 to the total but was bowled out by J. Flint. W. Read, junior totted up the next highest score at 19 before he was caught out by Stevens, the Broughton Astley bowler. Shearsby’s other players, J. Preston 5; W. Preston 1; F. Herbert 17; J. Root 6; T. Bodycott 1; T. Read 8 and W. Read, senior 0 brought the total for the first innings up to 142.
In reply Broughton Astley started poorly with T. Bird out l.b.w at 18, J. Flint bowled by W. Read, jun. for 5 and C. Coltman hitting his own wicket at 4. W. Read, junior’s bowling accounted for w. Holyoak 26; J. Sneath 2 and P. Read 0. W. Read sen. redeemed his duck by bowling W. Pegg out for 0. T. Severns third highest score of 15, caught by F. Herbert was not high enough to raise the total about 84. There was a Second Innings for Shearsby with a further 56 runs, but Broughton were soundly defeated in this game.
Checking through the households surveyed during the 1871 census finds William Read, a 24-year-old fellmonger living in the High Street, and Thomas Read (22) a fellmonger living in Back Street. Thomas was the son of John Read, noted in the census as being a fellmonger and grazier of 32 acres and employing 17 men and 1 boy.
The Shearsby team included players from outside the village like John Preston and his son William, both cordwainers from nearby Kilby. John Preston was the father of the Mary Preston (1845-) who married Stephen Clowes from Shearsby. Their son John William Preston Clowes born on 31 July 1866 in Philadelphia, was living in Shearsby with his grandparents in 1871. He developed his sporting interests whilst working in a factory in the Yorkshire town of Halifax and went on to play for the town and the county at Rugby. In 1888 he was selected for the Pan-Britannic team touring Australia and New Zealand. There is more to be said about jack Clowes and his involvement in this pioneering international rugby tour.
The cricket match played in Broughton Astley back in August 1870 is evidence of the role organised sport played in the lives of his parent’s generation, and may have influenced him in taking up his involvement in organised rugby at town, county and national level.
Leicester Chronicle and the Leicestershire Mercury (Leicester, England), Saturday, September 10, 1870; pg. 3
© 2017. This page is protected by copyright and should not be re-published electronically without the author’s permission.