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The Allahakbarries

When Peter Pan, Sherlock Holmes, Mowgli, Jeeves & Wooster, Winnie the Pooh and A. J. Raffles played cricket with Three Men in a Boat.

It's amazing what one learns on Farnham Walking Festival walks. During the 'Through Farnham Town' walk with Roy Waite, he mentioned the Allahakbarries. It turns out that this was a cricket team, founded by J. M. Barrie (who lived at Lobswood House - then called Black Lake Cottage - just outside Farnham).

A little research later, and this was the most amazing celebrity cricket team. Over its life, from 1887 to 1913, members included Arthur Conan Doyle, Rudyard Kipling, H. G. Wells, P. G. Wodehouse, Jerome K. Jerome, A. A. Milne, G. K. Chesterton and E. W. Hornung, as well as George Ives (who was the real-life inspiration for Raffles) and George Llewelyn Davis (the original inspiration for Pan). At one time Captain Scott of the Antarctic played for them!

The only half-decent player was Doyle, who, at the end of his career could claim to have displaced W. G. Grace from the wicket. The rest were cricketing disasters. At their first match in 1887 at Albury in Surrey, one player turned up dressed in pyjamas, another admitted not to knowing which way round a bat should be held, and a third, a French man, thought that when the umpire called 'over' the match had finished and walked off the pitch.

However, the aim was never to win, merely to have fun. And this is one of the aims of the Farnham Walking Festival - not to win, but to have fun. I'd like to end this short article by reproducing 'Hints to the Team by their Captain' (Barrie).

1. Don't practise on the opponent's ground before the match begins. This only gives them confidence.

2. Should you hit the ball, run at once. Don't stop to cheer.

3. No batsman is allowed to choose his own bowler.

4. If bowled first ball, pretend that you only came out for the fun of the thing, and then go away and sit by yourself behind the hedge.

He held an annual cricket week, practising on the cricket-sized lawn at Black Lake Cottage. They played at Tilford, Pasture Wood near Goddards, and on Sir Edgar Horne’s private pitch on Hall Place Estate, now Aldro School, in Shackleford. In 1890 Barrie published a small book, Allahakbarries C C.

If you wish to know more about the team, take a look on Wikipedia, or more to the point come on one of Roy Waite's or Guy Singer's walks during the festival.

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