Loyal Fred is one of club’s chief fixtures
Mersham Cricket Club has been a central part of the village for more than 70 years. And one man has been a part of it for all that time. Kirsty Parkin spoke to him
IT MAY be 70 years since he first stepped on to the pitch, but for the oldest member of Mersham Cricket Club, there is still nothing quite like feeling the grass under your boots.
Fred Fagg, 80, joined the club as an eager 10-year-old. That was in 1936. Since then he has been a player, bowler and umpire and is still involved today.
Earlier this year he won the BBC South East Unsung Hero award.
He also featured in a documentary, Sport’s Unsung Heroes, aired on the Community Channel last week.
This public interest is something of a surprise to the grandfather-of-two.
“I just love the game,” he said.
“I think I will always be involved in the club. I hope so.
When Mr Fagg began playing all those years ago, things were quite different.
“When I was a boy, the club played at a farmer’s field down the road. Before and after the match we had to move the sheep on and off the farm.”
This ground was in Blind Lane where players could be seen with a bucket and shovel, removing the cow-pats before the game.
The pavilion was so small that tea had to be taken in the village hall.
The current ground, in Stone Green, was bought in 1950 when the cricket and football clubs joined to form Mersham Sports Club.
The club was one of the founding members of the Kent Village Cricket League in 1973.
Now, faded team shots of teams through the years hang in the pavilion, with Mr Fagg appearing in many of them.
There are many other ways the honorary life vice-president has left his print on the club.
Not only has the bar been named after its most longstanding member, but his sons Ian and Geoffrey and grandsons Matthew and David play for the team.
Mr Fagg now devotes his time to keeping the ground, a labour of love he takes very seriously.
“After I retired from playing, I umpired for a while but when I was getting on for 70, the ball seemed to be coming a bit quick and it was harder to get out the way.
“You can get quite protective over the ground. The square has to recuperate during the winter and I have to seed and re-seed it.
“I’m down here most days, sometimes twice a day.”
It is lucky that his wife Irene, who played for Aldington Ladies Cricket Club, is a bit of a fan herself.
“There is a lot of cricket talk at our house,” said Mr Fagg, who worked at Crouch’s Garage, in Station Road, for 50 years.
“My wife has being doing the teas almost ever since we met 52 years ago.
“She might moan a bit that I am always down here, but she’s got used to it!”
Fred Fagg, who has been a member of Mersham Cricket Club for 70 years
The 1960s team with Fred Fagg back row, centre
The 1990 team with Fred Fagg as the umpire on the left