Nomads by Eric Warburg

Starting on a new life anywhere is fraught with new problems and I found this so at the end of the war, when I came back to civilian life.  Having found myself somewhere to live, after been demobbed in late 1947, I was fortunate in getting myself a job in the aviation world.

Winter being upon us I immediately rejoined the rugger club, Rosslyn Park, which had invited me to play a couple of games after I had left Cambridge in 1941 and whilst I was in the Army. Come Summer 1948 I was playing a bit of tennis but had not really thought about cricket. Then one day I was having a snack in a Mayfair sandwich bar, when an “obviously retired colonel” started to talk rather loud on the telephone telling someone that he had a full team for “tomorrow”, except for a wicketkeeper, although he had “scoured Sandhurst” and every other possible place where one might find a cricketer.  At the end of his conversation I made so bold as to tell him that I had been a wicketkeeper before the war and would like to try my luck again.  And so it was that I found myself playing for Beckenham in their local derby against Bromley.

This was really a ‘once only’, as I reckoned these clubs to be rather too far away from where I was living in West London. However the following week-end I went up to Lord’s for a Test Match and wandering round the ground behind the Tavern I ran into a Hurlingham Club friend called John Slowe, who told me he was having a problem finding someone to replace him at cricket the following day.  I told him that I could play if that would help, but his reply was “well it isn’t as simple as that, old man, you see I am a wicketkeeper and I have to find another wicketkeeper to replace me!”  

The next day I therefore found myself playing in my first Nomads game against Hornsey in North London.  I liked the Nomads crowd I was playing with, and so became wedded to a long ‘nomadic’ career in which I played regularly in most of their various fixtures particularly out of town in the villages.

Some of our early tours to Cambridge in the Long Vac were fun, and it was during one of these, when we were playing Downing, that I recruited Ian Crombie to play for the Nomads when he came down.  I remember that Sidney Caulfield, with whom I was then very good friends (as we all were), boasted about the team he was taking up to Cambridge, as being a team full of ‘blues’.  We thought that there would be a walkover against all the teams we played, until we found that the ‘blues’ were all for every other sport than cricket!  Ian Crombie’s magnificent sweater indicating a boxing blue!  

I became a very keen supporter of the Nomads, and as I had a lot of friends and quite a lot of sporting ones, I got them all to join the Nomads.  A lot of them being rugger players, were not too hot at cricket, but in those days we had to find “bodies” as Sydney Caulfield arranged so many matches that it was often difficult to find a team.  For my sins, as a record “collector” of new recruits, I got elected on to the committee in about 1952.  We then tried to start to “control” Sydney by limiting the number of matches, but he turned out to be quite uncontrollable.

1953 saw the great occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the Nomads.  Sydney, who with his brother, had founded the team and who had scored the first run and taken the first wicket in those far-off days of 1903, decided we would celebrate with a cricket week at the Hurlingham Club.  He collected a pretty impressive list of clubs to oppose us, and by some pretty “naughty” umpiring on his part – blamed by the kindlier souls on those long-range binocular spectacles, which he used to wear – we managed to beat most of them!  

This cricket week coincided with my wedding.  My late wife, Lotti, was Austrian and without much knowledge of cricket when I met her.  However she got quite keen on the game and even scored for the Nomads on several occasions.  Her knowledge of the finer points led to her drawing little ducks in the margin of the scorebook, as the occasion arose.  During the Nomads cricket week, I played cricket on the Monday, the Tuesday, the Wednesday, the Thursday: I got married on the Friday and played cricket on Saturday and Sunday!

Our honeymoon in Singapore was slightly delayed!  I well recall our wedding day on the Friday, as the reception was held at Hurlingham.  It was the hottest day of the year and all the team playing on that day, of course, came into the reception, they drank the champagne as though it was beer!

Since those days my impression is that the cricketing standard of the Nomads has improved considerably.  Certainly they have a very varied and attractive fixture list. I  can claim to be the oldest playing Nomad, now that Granny Altston has died, but I wonder if I could get a place in the Nomads team these days!  In any event these thirty-seven years of cricket I have played both with and against the Nomads have been full of good fun and great sportsmanship of a very special type, which it would be difficult to match in any other field!

As published in The Club Cricketer March 1986

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Eric Warburg was elected a vice-president of Nomads C.C. and  regularly attended its non-cricketing functions. In 1986 he was still playing at the Hurlingham Club(1986) which his current wife found much more convenient to all that motoring.

Eric attended all Nomads recent matches at Hurlingham and  keept in touch via the email until his death in Spring 2015. His Grandson Alex Smith was also a  regular Nomad.