THE NOMADS AS I KNEW THEM by Gerard Eiolart

Gerard Eiolart  reminisces in 1986 

 The character of the club when I joined in 1947 was sustained by the two founder members, Sydney Caulfield the Umpire, and H.N.E. Alston, known to all as “Granny”, and the undisputed master of the game having been a Somerset county player.  

The Nomads set their own standards and would not be dominated by “that little club round the corner” – M.C.C. Primarily their standards were to maintain the attack, whether in batting or in the field.

I remember Granny coming on to the field well after the game had started – taking the ball and saying “enough of this nonsense” – you there, and I’m bowling – effectively taking the captaincy by force amid general acclaim, his ability being unquestioned.

He would never let the opposing batsmen settle, not being content just to contain them, and winkle them out somehow: and when batting, Granny would not let the opposing bowler be seen to have the advantage, and would, if he snicked one through the slips on his way to an otherwise impeccable 50 or 100, throw down his gloves, wipe his glasses, and have the sightscreen moved.

Sydney Caulfield could raise a complete cricket XI in half an hour in the pubs in Cambridge, should it be necessary to find a team to play for the Nomads to play, which was no mean feat.++

“Tom Chamberlain was the only man I knew to sleep in the pavilion in his pyjamas after the match.” writes Gerard Eiolart

A most awkward and ungainly looking player, who nevertheless in one match after another would poke and prod his way to a big score wrote David Morton

The war had not long ended in 1947 and cricket gear was still hard to come by, some wearing whitened army boots and others gym shoes.  Many people’s lives were still in turmoil from the war, with broken homes and lost loved ones and Tom Chamberlain who was still understandably choked by the death of his wife in a raid on Paddington Station was the only man I knew to sleep in the pavilion in his pyjamas after the match. 

There was always a splendid audience of ladies supporting the Nomads, and there were romances and engagements and the generally sociable atmosphere of the matches was a constant pleasure. 

As the Nomads are a wandering side originating from Hampstead, but having no home ground, they have their teams chosen by match managers over the phone, with any one of half a dozen captains being the one chosen for a particular match, this leads to variety: and the stodginess of “over the garden wall” sides with one captain officiating for 15 years or more, is avoided.This leads to much greater enterprise, with the “hitters” being given free rein, and even “mad bowlers” being given an over or two to break a stand.

Wilfred Picton Turberville was the best captain I ever played for, and my admiration for him is enhanced by the fact that my dear mother did secretarial work for his aunt in the suffragette movement, when she was 18.

Gerard Eiolart held the record for the highest individual score for some 34  years, 155 v Caius College Cambridge   As a young Nomad he was prone to set up camp at opponents’ ground the night before so  the few early birds arriving the next day would find the young Gerard squatting outside his tent brewing tea on a small stove. In the early 80s we rediscoverd him at Merrow assembling before going off to play for their Sunday 2nd XI. As a result he played some more games for Nomads in his twilight years revealing himself to still have an astonishing good eye for the ball whacking it all over the field. On one occassion at Harrow School playing against The Hill,barely 15 minutes had passed before G Eiolart was out for 49 out of 50, the other batsman ME Blumberg having contributed but 1. David Morton umpiring was astonished ” He must be almost as old as me as we overlapped at Cambridge” and David had long retired from playing to concentrarte on Umpiring and consuming extraordinary volumes of Fullers ESB.