George Martin Packham

The following is an amalgamation of various items that hopefully over time and with contributions from our members will become a more comprehensive history of the club.The Cricket Club was first founded in 1860 but did not survive,  it was restarted in 1893 as Headley United Cricket Club.

George Martin Packham was born in Brighton in 1896.  Shortly after the turn of the century he and his family moved to the Crowthorne/Wokingham area of Berkshire.  He was already an avid cricketer and at the age of fourteen took two gold sovereigns from Prince Ranjit Singh who made a practice of placing a half sovereign on his off and leg stumps and a full sovereign on his middle stump challenging all comers to remove them.  George spent one sovereign in the local pub buying ale all round which made him very popular for the day

After serving throughout the First World War, he made his living as a gardener to Mr. Palmer of Huntley and Palmers’ Biscuits, rising to head gardener after some years. During this period he married and had two sons, Tony and Ronnie. Moving to Headley in the early 20’s he was soon playing for the local team and won the cup for best batting average on three successive years, 1923, 1924, and 1925. His son has two of the cups but the third George gave to his best pal who always came second. The cups were presented by H. Noel Esq.

Unfortunately George was shot in the upper body and head by a visitor to the grounds in which he was working with the result that he lost one eye thereby ending his cricketing career to all intents and purposes.  He did try to carry on but felt he could no longer do himself justice as a player but did remain very interested in the club and cricket in general serving as Hon. Secretary and on the Committee at Headley.  The family moved to Farnborough, Hants prior to World War 2 at the outbreak of which both his sons joined the Royal Navy, the elder one Tony was killed on H.M.S. Barham in 1941.  His third son, another Tony, was born 5 months afterwards.  Tony would also go on to serve in the Royal Navy.

The love of cricket never died and George and Tony would spend many hours in the local park practicing. On one occasion, he was about 56 or 57, in answer to some barracking yobs he put one stump in the ground and took a longer than usual run up and broke the stump – no more barracking.
George died in 1981 a wonderful sportsman and a credit to cricket.

 

Headley United CC circa 1924 – George top right