Cricket – a Houseman obsession

Watching test cricket at Lords has been on my bucket list for years. I can’t quite remember when or why it was added, possibly after watching the Olympics archery back in 2012, re-enforced every time I travelled past the grounds on a 274 bus. Mostly I suspect it being down to long distant memories of cricket being a Houseman “thing.” So, when the recent rain strikes prevented a friend of a friend from attending England v South Africa I jumped at the chance and whilst it wasn’t England’s best game (South Africa won without going into bat a second time) it did give me an opportunity to write about Housemans and cricket.

There is or rather was one “first class” Houseman cricketer, Ian, who played for Yorkshire between 1989 & 1991. Knowing I was a double Houseman with family from Darley, people would assume we were related. This being a Houseman from Yorkshire we are of course, but it took me many years to work out the relationship, 6th cousins, as Ian forms part of the third branch of Darley Housemans.

Playing cricket near Mikindani, Mtwara, Tanzania, 2006. Own collection.

I certainly didn’t inherit the gene. Cricket as a child involved watching the men play from the side lines whilst the women organised sandwiches and cakes as Dad played in young farmers advisory v members matches. I do have fond memories of making up numbers when working in Mikindani, Tanzania in 2006. Essentially if you put a South African in charge of a remote farm, mix in a public school educated English person or two, hot weather, sundowners and a need to avoid mosquitos by dusk, cricket seemed the obvious entertainment.

This blog is about family history though and not my own and there were two cricket obsessed men in our family, Grandad (Dad’s Dad, George Houseman) and Grandma’s Dad, Jesse Houseman.

George Houseman, Grandad, is in the forefront at the left. Own collection.

Grandad joined Farnley Estate club after the war and then moved to play for Darley as they were in a league and he felt they were more competitive. He was to remain a player and then staunch support of Darley for the rest of his life. Six club members were to be bearers at his funeral. On summer weekends George would throw his kit in the boot and travel round Yorkshire hoping that the team might be a man down and he would get a game. Saturday evenings would see him sat by the phone waiting for people to ring him to recount a match or to find out the result of a game they had missed.

I know little about Jesse Houseman’s cricketing career beyond two wonderful photos with which I will end this blog. The first is a postcard from Jesse to his sisters Beatrice, Alice & Emma, the second as a seemingly proud batsman. I think it’s meant to indicate a batting score of 131, which is just about as many as the whole England team scored in their second innings against South Africa!

Jesse Houseman. Own collection
Jesse Houseman. Own collection

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