Abridged from THE IVANHOE ATHLETIC CLUB; The First Seventy Years, 1916 – 1986 by J.C.A.Radley

Note: Jimmy Radley, Ivanhoe General Secretary, first played for the football section in September 1947, quickly moving from half-back for the Seconds to centre-forward for the Firsts. Jimmy scored some 250 goals in the next nine seasons and continued an active player until 1975 when, aged 52, he hung up his boots and transferred to running the line and managing the football section whilst continuing as General Secretary.

Founder Members

  • W Newling
  • E Watkins
  • R Hart
  • H Bailey
  • E Coombes
  • C Ife
  • R Pitt
  • W Hinton
  • C Folds
  • G Cushing
  • S Clark
  • ES Tooth
  • CM Scott (see early photographs in ‘100 Not Out’)
Ivanhoe AC 1921
The 1921 Ivanhoe Cricket Squad

Historical Background

The Ivanhoe Athletic Club was founded on 26th March 1916 by members of a boys’ Bible class at the Upper Holloway Baptist Chapel in North London. The Leader of the class, Ernest Watkins put forward the idea for a club to play cricket and football for boys between 15 and 16. The name ‘Ivanhoe’ is believed to have been suggested by Charles Scott, descendent of Sir Walter Scott, author of the tales about a gallant and chivalrous knight. The first President of the Club was the then Minister of the Baptist Church, the Rev.SG Morris.

There are no details of how the cricket team fared in its first summer, but Charles Scott wrote a detailed report on all games in the first half of the ensuing football season (all friendlies). By April 1917 the effects of war were telling on organized sport and the Club, in common with others was forced to abandon its activities. Instead members turned their attention to growing vegetables on an allotment in Highgate known as The Patch. Subsequently several members joined the services and one, Wally Hinton, was killed in action a few days before the Armistice was signed.

In the latter stages of the war, news of the Club was dispensed in “Ivanhoe’s Own” a magazine edited by Charles Scott and sold for 2d (two pence). It was published regularly and copies were sent to members in the forces.

After the war Ivanhoe was soon revived, with football in the 1919 season and cricket in 1920. The cricket team had obtained a public pitch at Highgate Woods, and for home games it was necessary for a member to put in a stump at either end as soon as the gates opened at 6:00am in order to secure the wicket. The Club soon had one team playing League cricket in the Finsbury Park Cricket Association Cup, and a second team playing friendlies. One football team was entered in Division 3 of the Islington League and a second played friendlies. Subscriptions were 9d a week for those who played and 3d for those who didn’t, although during the post-war depression of 1922-24, those in work (about 60%) paid the subs of those who were not.

Ivanhoe FC 1921-22 Stanley Tooth
Ivanhoe FC 1921-22

In 1921 a tennis section was formed, playing on courts at the YMCA, Meadway Farm, Golders Green, and also a harriers section. Sections for netball, ladies gymnastics, and for a short while swimming, soon followed. A dramatics section made a name for itself in the Holloway area, and section members combined socially to hold dances and concerts, the proceeds helping Club finances.

By the late twenties membership was around 120 with about a further 30 social members. Circumstances forced the closure of the harriers section but all others thrived up to the Second World War. In the early 1930’s the Club secured the use of new football and cricket pitches at the London Playing Fields in Whitchurch Lane, Edgware,  near Canons Park Station [2020; now known as The Hive, home to Barnet FC and Wealdstone FC]. Hire of two tennis courts and use of a pavilion soon followed.

Ivanhoe Tour 1928 to Wallingford
Ivanhoe Tour 1928 to Wallingford – Charles Scott; front row, centre

Cricket and Motorbikes

In 1940, following the outbreak of the Second World War, the Club was again obliged to suspend activities, but resumed immediately after. Two football teams were entered into the Harrow & Wembley League, and a third played friendlies. By 1949 the overall Club membership had climbed to over 80. Social events were held every Monday evening in the Whitchurch Institute, Buckingham Road, Edgware.

The move to Edgware precipitated the inevitable disassociation with the Upper Holloway Baptist Church. After the war it was decided that it was no longer appropriate for the Club President to be the current Minister and so in 1950, Charles Scott, a founder member, was elected as Club President.

The sale of the London Playing Fields to the London County Council Education Authority was a disaster for Ivanhoe. In one fell swoop it deprived the Club of its cricket and tennis facilities and two of its three football pitches. Cricket and football pitches were found at Centenary Park, Stanmore, but no alternative courts for tennis. That section dissolved and the social evenings also ended in the face of decreasing interest and the growing attraction of television.

Despite the setbacks the football section continued to thrive, and in 1956 introduced an Easter Tour, based in Weymouth, which became a popular annual event. However as years progressed fewer young men were interested in taking on the football sections’ officer roles, and at the time of writing (1985) only one team remains and its future is questionable. [The football section did close not long after; exact date unknown.]

The cricket section however is still rubbing along, having recently transferred from Centenary Park to a private ground at Shendish, Apsley, Hertfordshire].

The Annual Dinner still survives. Special Dinners were held in 1966 and 1976, respectively at Barrington House in the City, and the London Zoological Gardens, Regents Park, to celebrate Ivanhoe’s 50th and 60th anniversaries. It is to be hoped that a new generation of Ivanites will take over the reins in due course to ensure that the Club will continue for thrive for many years to come.

[…and the following is abridged from Jimmy’s specific chapter ‘Cricket’.]

The first recorded details relate to the 1919 season. Twenty games played of which 11 were won and 9 lost. A good performance considering that several players were still in the Forces at the beginning of the season. In 1922 the 1st team lost only one of nineteen games, but the loss – against Old Clementonians – cost Ivanhoe the Cup.

The 1st team dropped out of the Finsbury Park Cup Competition when the Club moved to the London Playing Fields in 1928. However it was here that Charles Scott made his first century on August Bank Holiday Monday, 1934. After WWII, the cricket section resumed in 1947 with an entirely new membership bar three which included Charles Scott. Dave Howard, who also played for the football section, began his long association with Ivanhoe when he joined in 1951.

Ivanhoe Netball Team 1950
Netball Team 1950
Ivanhoe Athletic Football Team 1st 11 1950
Ivanhoe Athletic Football Team 1st 11 1950 – Jimmy Radley; front row, centre
Ivanhoe Social Circa 1956
Mid-Fifties Social. From left: Bobby Hall, Kenny Bunker, Jimmy Crispin, Harry Robertson.

In 1952 the team moved to Centenary Park, Stanmore, a 32 year association except for two seasons at Roe Green, Kingsbury. The next few years saw the arrival of many quality players – Jimmy Crispin, Ted Woolley, Harry Robertson, Peter Conway and Ray Lilly (son of the Park Keeper, and who trialled for Middlesex CCC) – who all also played for the football section.

By 1976 only Dave Howard remained playing and the team now included names such as Peter Munting, Brian Jones, Mike Hockey, Steve Wilson, Ray Hawkins, Gary Allen, Les Chenery, and brothers Lawrence and Malcolm Parnell (these two being the last of those who also played for the football section). Steve Wilson’s wife Sandra was Secretary of the cricket section for a few years, but when family responsibilities became too heavy it was Steve himself who took over the reins. 1978 saw the first appearance in the averages of Stuart Howard, son of Dave, who rapidly cemented a position as one of the Club’s leading batsmen.

The retirement of Tom Lilly as head groundsman heralded a decline in the quality of pitches at Centenary Park. Fortunately, through Steve Wilson, an employee with Dickinson Robinson Group (DRG) makers of Sellotape, Basildon Bond, etc., Ivanhoe was able to move its home ground to Shendish at Apsley, Herts., the DRG company sports ground. The Club flourished in this ‘private’ setting; the cricket pitch was well-maintained and in a self-contained environment, and Ivanhoe members and their families could also enjoy the social facilities in the main house.

The Oxford Tour, a week of cricket starting August Bank Holiday Saturday, began in 1927. The base for that first Tour was Wallingford-on-Thames [see ‘100 Not Out’ for photographs] but most games then, and in subsequent years, were against clubs in and around Oxford. The opposition standard was usually high and often featured County as well as Club cricketers. Often too, matches were played on the superbly maintained University grounds – a treat for the batsmen but frequently hard work for the bowlers.

[This concludes the abridged account from Jimmy Radley’s book.]

Ivanhoe’s tenure at Shendish sadly ended in the late 1990’s. DRG, in common with many companies with sports grounds, decided the expense of ownership and maintenance was no longer justified. They sold to a private individual who, a short time later, decided that the cricket field would be financially more rewarding if utilized to extend the adjoining golf course.

Last match at Shendish. September 1993.
Back row: Andy Newman, Stuart Howard, Steve Wilson, Lawrence Parnell, Colin Treadaway (guest), ?, Adrian Dancer, ?, Mike Hockey, Philip Parnell (umpire). Front row: Denis Evans, Stephen Parnell, Gary Allen, Malcolm Parnell, Andy Christie.

Initially, Ivanhoe found a new home at the Oaklands Agricultural College in St Albans, first at one of their peripheral sites. After two seasons there, and an effort by the Club members to clean and improve the facilities, both the changing room and cricket square were trashed by trespassing Travellers. Ivanhoe relocated to the College’s central St Albans site but tenure here was ended when the College was approached by Arsenal Ladies FC for use of the facilities as a training base.

So, by the early 2000’s, Ivanhoe had alighted on the sports ground of the Royal Veterinary College at Brookmans Park, near Potters Bar.

In the post-Shendish era, Ivanhoe’s membership fluctuated, often being close to or less than eleven. However through the efforts of a hard core of stalwarts (Earle Abrahamson, Andy Christie, Bob Collins, Adrian Dancer, Denis Evans, Andrew Hausler, Phil Kenchington, Ciaran Woodcock, and brothers Lawrence and Malcolm Parnell and their sons – respectively Philip and Stephen, and Christopher, Matthew and Richard – the Club maintained a full fixture list each summer and enjoyed a renaissance through the mid-2000’s when  Richard Parnell introduced two teachers from his school – Matt Martin, an all-rounder who had represented New Zealand as a junior, and Johnny Weathurburn an opening, left-arm bowler from Tasmania in the mould of Steve Wilson and distinctly quick when riled! Between them Matt and Johnny transformed Ivanhoe performances and it was a joy to share the field with them. Alongside their individual prowess they were also great clubmen on the field and socially.

90th Anniversary Dinner - Lord's 2006
90th Anniversary Dinner – Lord’s 2006

The timing was coincidental but Matt and Johnny’s few seasons with Ivanhoe (before returning home) included the Club’s 90th Anniversary celebration in 2006, a dinner held in the Lord’s Media Centre and attended by over seventy past and present cricket section members and their families.

Ten years later, and this event proved a pre-cursor to Ivanhoe’s Centenary. This was signified by two major events, both at Lord’s. First, on September 11th 2016 on the Lord’s Nursery Ground, came an all-day match against Cross Arrows (the club for MCC members). Although the difference in class was apparent in the result (Cross Arrows 422 for 6 (Lawrence Parnell 3 for 16), Ivanhoe 172 all out (Richard Parnell 77, Philip Parnell 36), Ivanhoe was not disgraced and Cross Arrows proved excellent hosts throughout.

100th Anniversary Match v Cross Arrows – Lord’s 2016

Adrian Dancer receives a trophy – 100th Anniversary Dinner – With John Emburey (right)

Two weeks later Ivanhoe held its Centenary Dinner in the Lord’s Long Room. Strenuous efforts were made to find past Club members of all Ivanhoe sections and, in the event, one hundred and forty-four attended. Special guests included Robbie Book, Secretary of the Club Cricket Conference and John Emburey (Middlesex and England), who spoke  and presented the Cricket Club trophies to the winners for the 2016 season. An award was also presented to Malcolm Parnell (then Club President) as Ivanhoe’s longest continuous playing member.