HARINGEY CRICKET COLLEGE – West Indian club cricket in the United Kingdom – What is happening to record the achievements – and what our readers can do to help

By Clayton Goodwin

Do you remember the Haringey Cricket College which produced several good quality first-class cricketers? Our readers will associate the college mainly with Reg Scarlett, the former West Indies off-spinner and excellent companion, who did so much to publicise the college and its achievements. Then it was suddenly and sadly no longer, when the service to the community was most needed.

Caribcommx has been pleased to hear from Dr Michael Collins, Associate Professor of Modern and Contemporary British History, University College London (ULC), and to learn about his efforts on behalf of Haringey (later London) Cricket College, and to debunk some of the myths surrounding its demise. Dr Collins informs us that to learn the truth about how “the most successful sports academy in the world” came to be shut down, please read on here – https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1467-923X.13228

He advises readers, also, of a new development: “We are launching a free-to-use, online, interactive archive or “memory map” for the huge volume of Windrush-era oral history material that I have come across during my research over the past 2-3 years.  This material goes well beyond the scope of my book – Windrush Cricket: Caribbean migration and the remaking of postwar England – coming soon”.

Dr Collins tells readers, too: “Much more importantly, there are so many more stories out there. The book can only incorporate a fraction of the histories of migration and settlement in which cricket and cricket clubs were a very significant and arguably under-recognised element of postwar black British history. So, the Caribbean Cricket Archive will provide a space for communities, clubs, and individuals, to tell their own stories in their own words. The objective is to empower communities, and to strengthen and enhance the wider public understanding of Caribbean cricket history in the UK. We also hope to make the legacy of Caribbean cricket more meaningful and accessible to today’s generation, and as such to inspire increased participation in cricket among those young people who might identify with a Caribbean cricket heritage.

And asks us: If possible, please do share news of this initiative with your networks, or forward to those who can. There’s a Tweet here for a simple re-tweet. The post contains a flyer that can be used on different social media platforms: https://x.com/WindrushCricket/status/1750567213986386311?s=20  

A brilliant younger colleague of mine – Montaz Marché, contactable via info@thisisblackbritain.co.uk – is the lead researcher for this project and from April 2024 she will be running oral history workshops at Caribbean cricket clubs across the UK. We are hoping to run sessions in Preston, Sheffield, Leicester, Bristol, and London. Following that, people will be able use the Caribbean Cricket Archive webspace to narrate and curate their own histories, using image, text, or sound.  

The Caribbean Cricket Archive project secured £20,000 from UCL and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) to pay for the first phase of the work. We are also very fortunate to be partnering with the African Caribbean Engagement (ACE) Programme and the African Caribbean Cricket Association (ACCA) to deliver this project”.

Dr Collins indicates: “Chapter 2 is called “Here to Stay, Here to Play”. It looks at Caribbean cricket clubs in the UK – and inevitably, because a book needs a narrative structure, colour and texture I need to focus on a few case studies where I have more information about the characters involved: for example, Carnegie CC, Bristol West Indians, Lester Caribbeans, a team called Jagos in Preston, Sheffield Caribbean, and Leeds Caribbean. There is also Shepherd’s Bush cricket club, which was not originally a Caribbean club, but evolved into a ‘multi-ethnic’ one with a strong Caribbean flavour. I was just hoping to supplement all of this with a very basic statistical steer for the reader. My underlying point here is that by the early 1990s, there was an immensely rich ecosystem of black Caribbean cricket being played across the United Kingdom – and yet, the powers that be within the game were either ignorant of what was going on, or actively hostile towards it. That is a great tragedy, if not a crime!

He told Caribcommx in a subsequent message: “I am still looking to put together a basic statistical outline of the extent of Caribbean cricket clubs across the United Kingdom that were active, particularly from the 1970s up to the late 1990s. I’m not sure if you’ll have noticed, but I appeared before a Parliamentary select committee last week, to answer questions on our ICEC report. I’ve also been campaigning quite widely to try and reinstate the Haringey Cricket College. There is a glimmer of light in this regard: 

Caribcommx is pleased to have received this communication and wishes Dr Collins all success in his enterprise and we hope that there will be further scope for us to keep readers up-to-date with progress.

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