Some reflections of a Taverner By Emanuel J. Sylvester Jr.(Manny/Joe)
The City of Winnipeg welcomed me here in the “Fall” of 1968. My then fiancé Eulah, and I got married the same year
In the Summer of 1969 the MCA welcomed me to Assiniboine park.
I played for Carlton Cricket Club with the likes of the late Herbert Spencer and other members such as Orville Hinds, Byron Jones, Roger Marville and Andy Goodman.
Don’t think I’m going to allow this little bragging moment to go unmentioned. In my first game, against East Kildonan, I captured 7 wickets for 29 runs. In my second game against Assiniboine Colts I captured seven wickets for 5 runs. I have a lot more to tell but it will have to be at a Taverners Winter Meeting and it may cost you around.
The following year, we decided to form a new cricket club since there was a large number of cricketers coming to Winnipeg from all over, particularly the Caribbean islands, and since there were only six clubs to accommodate them, it was necessary to form new clubs. The late Herbert Spencer came up with the idea of forming a new cricket club. He sought and obtained the assistance of Byron Jones and myself for that endeavour. We named the new club “Eagles” and I was asked to be Secretary, a position which I willingly accepted. We started our recruiting process by inviting other players particularly those with whom we identified and those who didn’t get much playing time in other clubs to join our new team. Salaries were not big in those days, but the fringe benefits you obtained from associating with a cricket club (drinking beer, going to socials and parties) were good.
LOOK BACK FOR A MINUTE
Imagine being relatively new to a country and being the secretary for a new cricket club.You have no typewriter at home, no computer, no car,
You have to somehow: 1) Recruit new members 2) Raise funds 3) Apply to Manitoba Cricket Association for membership 4) Apply to the Manitoba Liquor Commission for a permit to hold a fund-raising social and have your application investigated. 6) Order and distribute social tickets 7) Order liquor from the Liquor from the Liquor Commission, but you don’t have sufficient money to purchase it..
At our first General Meeting we decided to appoint Herb Spencer as our captain, and Byron Jones our Vice-Captain, but when we heard that the late Carl Glasgow – a terrific cricketer who had previously lived in Winnipeg and played for the Winnipeg Cricket Club) was returning to Winnipeg and was willing to join our club, we made him captain and made Herbert Vice-Captain. Carl moved to Ottawa before the season was over to do some graduate work, Herb took over as captain and we managed to win the Fort Garry Cup (Knock Out/20 overs) cup that year. In 1971 Herb continued to captain and we won the League Trophy. In 1972, I captained and again we won the League trophy.
Eileen Kennedy, (the president of the Winnipeg Cricket Club for about 20 years) and I became friends because she was such a great cricket fan, was the official scorer for her club and was a member of the CRICKETTES, a group of ladies consisting of cricketers’ wives. They used to bake cakes and goodies, go to Polo Park and sell them in order to raise funds for the Cricket Association. In addition, they prepared tea at no charge for the cricketers which the cricketers drank at half time. I admired her great contribution and always praised/thanked her for them.
Eileen even invited me to her annual New Year’s Eve fund-raising party held at her house on Oxford Street.
One day I told her that I was going to approach the wives of the cricketers in our club to see if they would do some baking and also help in serving tea at half time. I phoned the wives of the cricketers of our club, told them the situation and they agreed to contribute. By then I had a car, so I could go from house to house to collect the baking products. Eileen was so impressed with my efforts that one day she approached me and said she would like to nominate me for the MCA Executive. I told her that I was new in Winnipeg and I hardly knew all the cricketers so she should probably ask some of the crickets who had been here for much longer. She pursuaded me to allow my name stand and that she would campaign for me. She came with the Nomination form, I signed it and after the election it was revealed that I was elected to the MCA Executive. I became the League Secretary, Clive Pickering the League Chairman Dr. Gwill Evans -President, Bill Weighton – VP, John Page-Treasurer, Adrien Savage and Harry Davies Members at Large. As League Secretary, it was my task to open the pavilion, hand out the game balls, collect the stats sheets at the end of the game and lock the pavilion.
I spent four years on the Executive; two as League Secretary, one as Social Chairman, and one as Public Relations Officer. I also had to open the pavilion for the Taverners on Wednesdays, so we became friends. Eileen invited to join them at the Paddock Restaurant at Polo Park for after-game beverages. I went periodically, but NOT every week. Eventually, Taverners invited me to join but I replied that Taverners was a kind of an “Old Men’s club and I was too young to join.(I wasn’t being rude. I was just being respectful). However, later on I joined. My official membership in Taverners probably dates back to the early 1980’s.
Other Taverners members included DRS. Roulston, Porritt, Jolly, Pirani, Bjani, Keith Tipples. Also Tony Kennedy, Wilfred James and others whose names don’t occur to me right now. I never understood why Keith Tipples didn’t play on the weekends, because he used to score so many runs on Wednesdays. Somebody told me that he went camping on weekends. I did not understand why a person would give up cricket for camping. To Keith, I would like to say, I sort of understand now.
One day while walking through the Psychology Building on my way to the Science complex, at University of Manitoba a young lady stopped to say “hi’’ to me. I asked her where she knew me from and she replied that I open the pavilion for the Taverners every Wednesday. She happened to be Dr. Terry Jolly’s daughter. Later on I became two of her boys’ Cub and Scout leader. The
younger of the two went to school with my younger son and were both on the same football team. I also taught at the same school as her hubby. Did you say it was a small world?
In the early 2000’s Gerry Maingo who was recently transferred from B.C to Winnipeg, hosted the Taverners December meeting. He cooked us come callaloo soup. It was a hit. For three consecutive years, he made us callaloo at Christmas. The next year, he was transferred back to B.C. I was approached by the then Social Chairman, Mike Fuller to see if I could take on the task of making the callaloo. I asked my wife, Eulah, and she agreed to make it. It was also a hit for 5 years. In fact, some members asked to take some home their wives.
I made a statement once about rewarding players with a little trophy for small fun things done in the club. A bunch of players took it too seriously and up to this day I am teased about it…….Boooo!
After all these years I was nominated for the James A. Rose trophy for Assiduous Achievement
By Keith James (in 2010 I think) but didn’t win it. Thanks for nominating me, Keith.
In 2016, I was finally awarded the James Rose Trophy for Assiduous achievement.
Thanks for nominating me, Karl, thanks for whoever seconded the motion, and thanks for those who voted for me, and Keith Tipples, thanks for presenting it.
Thanks, guys1 You are a great bunch. I won’t trade you guys for any other group.
In 1995, when Taverners toured the UK, I was scheduled to be on assignment in Montserrat, so I couldn’t go. However, the program was cancelled late due to political concerns. Dr. Pirani’s wife, who was a travel agent, tried desperately to get a flight to the UK, but all flights were booked.
In 2001, I was scheduled to attend a conference at University of London, so after my conference, I joined the Taverners in Painswick, Glouscestershire for Taverners second tour to the UK.
The rest my friends is ……………………………………………………………HISTORY
Emanuel J. Sylvester Jr.
Some reflections of a Taverner By Jon Page
I found the attached team list in the 1965 MCA handbook so they must have been in place for a few years then. I have a vague recollection that 1959 was mentioned at one time as their formation. The team was formed by a group of Doctors new to Winnipeg who as newbies couldn’t normally get the weekend off to play but they could usually get a mid week day off. So they formed the team to play only on Wednesdays. So if we take 1960 as their 1st year I dont think there is anyone around to dispute that.
The other attachment might be of interest as it proves that Don Bradman batted in Winnipeg.
A couple of things of interest that show where some of our traditions started.
First the idea of drinking at someones house after the game. Taverners originally drank in The Paddock at Polo Park but that was pulled down & is now A & W. We moved to other spots & ended up in the downstairs bar at The Charleswood (now Co Op gas) one evening a group of us went there after the game & we were the only people in the bar. We pulled a few tables together but the manager told us we couldn’t do that, the explanation being that the waitresses couldn’t get around. There were no waitresses working at that time. So we ordered a dozen Molson Exports (the club beer at the time) & when the manager had opened them all, we all left.
After some discussion we picked up some beer at the Vendors & went to Gwil Evans place which then became the regular destination till he retired & moved away.
Port at the BBQ. This didn’t start with Taverners but on a St Georges tour of the UK. After a cold & damp start to a game it was finally rained off, & we sat in the teams Pavilion around a log fire & by way of an apology for the poor weather their captain opened a bottle of Port to help warm us up. At that time a lot of the St. Georges team were also Taverners so the idea was adopted for the next BBQ & so it continues.
When I joined in the early 70’s the team would gather in the Lounge Bar of the Paddock which was situated where A & W &/or The Red Lobster are now, opposite Polo Park. When the Paddock closed for re-development we then spent a short time in the Lounge of The Viscount Gort being entertained by Chad Alan at the piano. Chad was 1 of the originals of the Guess Who.
After a short time the Gort was deemed to be too expensive so the next venue was the downstairs lounge at The Charleswood Hotel, now the Co-Op Gas Station. We were there on Wednesdays & St. George’s cricket team used the place on Saturdays This continued until 1 Wednesday evening when we went downstairs & as normal the place was empty, we proceeded to pull 3 tables together to accommodate the dozen or so players. With that the “Manager” told us that we couldn’t do that as the waitresses could not get around. As we were the only people there & there were no waitresses we ignored him. But he insisted. So we ordered our 12 Molson Exports & when we heard that they we all open & ready to be served we all stood up & left & never to return.
We picked up some beer at the Vendor & went to 727 Buckingham (The Buckingham Arms) the home of the then Prez, Gwil Evans.
This our became headquarters for the next few years. This is where the tie rule came into effect, but in those days if you were discovered inadequately dressed you had to buy a beer for everyone present. The more astute of us soon realized that if you forgot your tie the idea was to get to the bar very early admit that you had no tie & buy for the 1 or 2 people there.
Food was strictly limited to a maximum of 2 flavours of chips, that had to be purchased at Costco & the beer was Molson Export “illegally” smuggled across Provincial borders by Dr. Evans on his return from the cottage in Kenora.
It was also because of his change, profits accrued from the beer sales & after some discussion it was decided to hold a BBQ to thank our better halves for allowing us out on a Wednesday.Things have grown from there, but after the past couple of weeks maybe the growth has stopped & we are reverting to the “good” old days.
Some reflections of a Taverner By Keith Tipples, aka XXP
1962 was a year to remember: Mo and I were married; I received a PhD in Applied Biochemistry from the University of Birmingham; I played in goal for the last time for the University soccer team; I played cricket for the last time for the University and for Reading cricket club; and I arranged to take up a post-doctoral Fellowship for one year at the Canadian Grain Commission’s Grain Research Laboratory in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada! At 26 years old that was a lot of stuff for one year, not to mention that we were penniless and that Mo was 6 month’s pregnant by the time we left Southampton on the Queen Mary on December 29. A friend had told me he’d heard that there might be cricket played in Winnipeg, so I packed my whites just in case.
After settling in (I got a $500 advance on my stipend so we could buy winter coats!) and having our first child, I found a cricket contact (Bill Weighton). I was invited to play for the President’s XI in the season’s first game scheduled for Victoria Day. Unfortunately, that game was snowed off – welcome to a Winnipeg Summer!
Cricket was played on Saturday afternoons by a league of only 6 teams: East Kildonan (Bert Cumber, Horace Hackett, John Lovelace, Leon and Terry Cox…), Winnipeg (Bert Smith, Arthur Kennedy, Carl Thorpe, Harry Davies…), Royal Society of St George (St George’s – Ron Turnbull, Dick Dawson, Tommy Rowe, Adrian and Merv Savage…), Bristol, and Assiniboine. In contrast to today’s scheduling challenges, 6 teams
playing on three pitches was perfect for a Saturday afternoon! All league games were played on a time basis, usually a 2 pm start and a 6-30 finish, with a break for tea in the middle. One team batted until they were all out or they declared. Thus, a game might be won, lost, tied or drawn. The playing surface was grass, the height of the ball after bouncing was unpredictable, and the batting helmet had not been invented, so batsmen had to keep alert! Often 60 or 70 turned out to be a winning score!
I was persuaded to join St George’s and enjoyed three years of weekend cricket with them. By then we had three young children and Mo was lumbered with taking them up to the park and keeping them happy every Saturday, so we decided we would rather go camping on Summer weekends. Dick Dawson encouraged me to join Taverners who played at the park on Wednesday evenings. And so, I began an unbroken 51 year association with this unique club, as player (until 1992), captain (1983-1986), president (2001-2013) and latterly umpire.
Taverners cricket club was formed around 1959-60 by a group of doctors who were often on call on a weekend but could be available on Wednesday evenings, which were suitable for limited 20 over games. The original organizing committee consisted of Terry Jolly, president; Peter Porritt, captain; John Garwood, secretary; and Gwilym Evans, treasurer.
John Garwood was not around for long, but I have many lasting memories of the other three.
Peter Porritt was probably even more interested in field hockey than he was in cricket, and was chief organizer of the hockey tournament for the 1967 Pan American Games. Since this was held at Assiniboine park,
we lost our cricket venue for two years (1966 and 1967) as the ground was dug up and re-laid, and a new cricket and hockey pavilion was built. (For these two years we played on fields at Headingly and Kildonan Park). Peter commandeered several fellow Taverners to help run the hockey tournament (I was responsible for opening and closing ceremonies at the park and managed to end up with more medals than we needed!). Peter Porritt was president of MCA for a while and conscripted me to be secretary – complete with an ancient and beaten-up Underwood typewriter!
Terry Jolly was one of life’s good guys. He was brought up in Northern Ireland and got his medical qualifications at Queen’s University in Belfast. Before arriving in Winnipeg Terry spent 4 ½ years in the colonial service in Fiji and another period in Gander, Newfoundland. These experiences formed the basis for his wealth of hilarious stories that he delivered in an accent that was Irish with a dab of newfie! Terry was my family doctor for a few years. A medical appointment with him was a delight – he’d start by telling me a couple of jokes, then we’d talk cricket for a while before he pronounced me fit enough to walk out of his office. Terry and I opened the batting together for a couple of seasons and it was always an achievement to avoid being run out by him!
Gwilym Evans was at the heart of Taverners cricket for many years, as wicket-keeper, tight-fisted treasurer, president, and as host to post-game sessions in the basement of the “Buckingham Arms”. Gwil was instrumental in organizing and managing our first tour to England. He kept a close rein on our finances, and woe betide any of us who did not account for every bottle of beer and empty when we hosted. We were not allowed to provide more expensive brands of beer – the difference from his allowed price came out of our own pocket, as did the chips!
When we drank at Gwil’s, Megan would, at some late stage, apparently (most of us had already left) be heard to call out: “Go home Page”!
During my time as a Taverner it has been my delight to get to know many other unforgettable characters, descriptions of whom and their exploits must be the subject of another memoir.
The great thing about Taverners is that regardless of colour, profession, age, wealth and belief we can all be equal. I well remember when Barry Valentine (the right reverend Anglican bishop of Rupertsland, who got his blue for Cambridge University) moved to BC, we held a little party for him at which he told us how we’d never know how important it was to him to have been associated with such an irreverent bunch! We could insult him at will and did not try to lick his boots! Over the years I have seen that Taverner spirit blossom. As always, the main requirement of a potential new member is a thick skin that can make him impervious to insults!
Although Taverners C.C. is ostensibly a cricket club, we are much more than that. It’s interesting that, until recently, the club had two golf trophies but none for cricketing prowess.
But then, there’s the mysterious James A. Rose trophy. This is awarded annually for assiduous achievement by a Taverner. As the definition of assiduous is persevering and hard working, a cynic might ask how any Taverner could possibly measure up to such a daunting adjective. I might argue that most of our members would demonstrate a great deal of perseverance while batting if only the opposition wouldn’t keep getting them out. OK, I admit that hardworking is a bit of a stretch, but the trick is that we interpret achievement in a much broader sense than simply the scoring of runs or the taking of wickets. In short, the trophy is awarded to the member who is thought to have best demonstrated Taverner Spirit.
The trophy originated as follows: James Rose was a friend of Gwilym Evans. He lived in England all his life and visited Winnipeg just once, in 1979. Being a cricket enthusiast, he was delighted when Gwil arranged for him to turn out for a Wednesday evening Taverners’ game. He brought a brand-new County cricket ball to the game, but we felt that it was too good to be used on the matting wicket and reserved it for “future use”. We later decided to turn it into an award, to be presented annually, for “assiduous achievement” by a Taverner.
However, how could we turn a cricket ball into a trophy? During debate on this question, Mike Fuller not only purported to have an answer, but generously volunteered to get the job done as he had at his disposal the formidable metalworking resources of his work colleagues. Imagine his chagrin at the reaction of his fellow Taverners when he unveiled his work of art at a subsequent meeting. Teutonic monstrosity was just one of several unflattering descriptions muttered by the gathered onlookers who, though grudgingly allowing that it was a masterpiece of engineering, scored it very low for artistic impression. Even less flattering were some of the epithets that Michael aimed back at his detractors. But, at least, Taverners now had a brand-new trophy that looked as though it could last for eons. Who better to be its first (1983) recipient than M.J.Fuller himself since, we argued, he was likely the only person who would be happy to display it publicly. Fortunately, a new and more pleasing trophy was made by Brian Carty.
1980 – Taverners on TV. Fame at last!
There used to be a “Community TV” channel that broadcast local activities. They decided that they should televise a cricket match at Assiniboine park. The only problem was that they didn’t work on weekends, so a Taverners game was their only option. The big day
arrived and a large truck materialized complete with all the necessary cables, cameras and other paraphernalia. Meanwhile, long-time MCA historian Bill Weighton took the event very seriously. He prepared a series of charts and diagrams that he was to use in a pre-game lecture on the game of cricket for the edification of an imaginary audience of non-cricketing Winnipeggers! Talk about material for a Monty Python skit! Bill was the commentator and Herb Spencer was the “colour commentator”.
Every single ball of the Taverners vs St Georges game was duly filmed and subsequently shown on some obscure TV channel complete with Bill’s preamble and many gems from the two commentators. Ali Pirani had the wherewithal to make a videotape recording of the broadcast which he brought and played at a couple of Taverners gatherings. We all watched breathlessly to see if Harry Davies would catch the ball this time! In truth, watching 2 ½ hours of us playing cricket would be as boring as hell if it hadn’t been fodder for the inevitable insults and scorn! My only vague memory of the game was of batting for some time before being hit on the head and then bravely (shut up Pickering!) soldiering on! I think we actually won the game, but, then, who cares?
1983-86 – Captaincy.
Taverners first secretary, John Garwood, famously produced AGM minutes in verse. When I gave my first Captain’s report at the March 1984 AGM, I decided to resurrect the practice. For what it’s worth here is an extract from that report:
“…Last year the usual mixed bag, of course.
Moral victories, wins, an occasional loss.
It’s amazing how, after our quota of beer,
Results become hazy, statistics unclear.
But now it’s the winter, and I’ll take a break,
Browse through the scorebook – see what sense I can make.
Results show the team played twelve and won six
And three of the losses were true moral vics!
Our batting was boosted by the big guns
Gene Lloyd, John Williams, Clive Pickering scored runs.
Clive averaged fifty-nine each time at bat,
A two-nine-six total – eighteen sixes – how’s that!
Harold Lloyd’s “brother” wasn’t once out
His exciting century made us all cheer and shout.
John Willy, all rounder, the whole game he covers,
Three fifties, great fielding and economical overs.
Mike Fuller ‘gainst Lions turned out a winner
Four for fifteen with his cack-handed spinners.
Mike’s thirteen wickets for bowlers was most
But Barry Mills’ average of eight was the lowest.
True to the Taverner spirit, the best
Was produced by the fastest bat in the west.
Our own Harry Davies gave fielders a treat,
To be run out five times was a brilliant feat…”
1985 – the Masters Games.
The first Masters Games was held in Toronto August 7-25 1985. It comprised competitions in 22 different sports, including cricket, with the age definition depending on each sport. For cricket, the age limit was 40 or older. After much beer-fueled debate Taverners decided to enter even though we barely had enough players (Ali Pirani, Mike Fuller, Ossie Belle, Dick Dawson, Herb Spencer, Barry Mills, John Lovelace and me – average age closer to 50 than 40!). We were lucky to pick up three wonderful additions in Leroy Grey, David Brooks and the famous West Indian fast bowler Tom Dewdney). We may have been a little out of our depth, but we had a great time.
There were 14 teams in the cricket category, including three – Bermuda, Trinidad and Tobago and Melbourne- from overseas. The souvenir program for the cricket tournament listed profiles for each of the teams. Ours was as follows:
“TAVERNERS CRICKET CLUB (WINNIPEG, CANADA)
The Taverners C.C. was founded in 1960 for the purpose of playing Wednesday evening ‘friendly’ fixtures against clubs who play in the weekend league competition in Winnipeg. The Who’s Who biography of one of the club’s less notorious members – Bishop Barry Valentine – lists Taverners among his clubs and generously describes us as being for “aged and bibulous cricketers”. Members play, secure in the knowledge that any medical problems will be promptly attended to by a plethora of specialists – although demands on the club gynecologist have been understandably light. The mean chronological age of the team for the Masters Games is 48, rising to 68 by the end of the game, dropping miraculously to 28 during post-game activities and increasing alarmingly to 128 the morning after. The Games contingent includes
players who have represented such diverse teams as Canada, Uganda, Dynamos (Trinidad), Cambridge University, Rising Sun (Antigua), Berkshire C.C.C. and British Paints (New Zealand).
Although we didn’t win any games, we did manage a couple of moral victories. We thoroughly enjoyed some great social activities and came home with many lasting memories.
1990 – Taverners first tour to England – Chilham, Kent.
After talking about a tour to England for several years we finally got off our butts and organized one.
We stayed in a delightful old (haunted!) pub in the village of Chilham, Kent, which is about 5 miles west of Canterbury. Fairly close by is a small area called Old Wives Lees in which there is a cricket ground, home of the Owls – our first opponent. We made friends with several of their players (local lads, several of whom were artisans) and persuaded a couple of them to play for us in subsequent fixtures.
For details of the tour see the excellent book put together by John Page (which includes caricatures of us Taverners drawn by landlord Glyn). Also, see the wonderful poetic prose by Cliff Ashwell – thirteen stanzas, starting:
“’tis off to Jolly England” said I
“to play cricket down in Kent”
The wife fixed me with a steely glare
And said “piss off”
So I went.
I can provide copies of this unforgettable literary record.
Clive Pickering was club captain at the time, but refused to do the job overseas and insisted I be the tour captain.
On our first evening at the Woolsack I was worried we might all get thrown out for loud and unruly behavior. However, we survived and had a great time. My main claim to fame as captain involved losing the coin toss for all seven games!
Some of my many fond memories of the tour:
*Cliff Ashwell relating outlandish sheep stories to a spellbound group of “the local lads”.
*Putting the Earl of Greystoke’s grandson on to bowl, going up to him after his first two balls were wides and asking if he was OK, to be told “my shirt is too tight” (it was buttoned at the wrists). My suggestion that he roll up the sleeves remedied matters.
*I was injured so didn’t play and acted as scorer in the 20-over game against Leeds and Broomfield. This entailed sitting in a large “county style” scorebox complete with controls to change numbers. Their scorer was an obnoxious 16-year-old boy who maintained charts with colored pens for every stroke and prattled on about how good their team was and what great batsmen they had that were cracking our bowling around for 197 runs. After tea, I resumed my duties. Fortunately, Clive Pickering and brother Neil put on 130 in the first 13 overs and Taverners went on to record a famous victory, scoring 200 for three to seal the win with an over to spare. Needless to say, that shut up my fellow statistician! The report backhome was headlined “Tipples scores 400 runs”!
Extract from Taverners Fall 1992 newsletter: “Special mention must go to Keith Tipples, who despite ski knees, tennis elbows and poor night vision and regular threats of retirement, fielded like a pro during our last game. If, like the rest of us as the sun goes down, he relies more on memory than vision, that game proves he is not suffering from Alzheimers disease.” Thanks Chris – I think!
October 24 2016