Now that the sporting summer season has started we wanted to celebrate the recent successes of the Copthorne Stoolball team so we invited Tracey Price from the team, to be Guest Editor for this issue…

The Copthorne Stoolball team have been playing for over 50 years. The team started the winter indoor league back in September 2017 with high hopes of winning a game or maybe two. But what followed was the best and amazing winter league we have had for years. We exceeded all our previous match wins by winning 5 out of 10 matches in the session (one by default). This was an outstanding result for the Copthorne team and has shown the team that morale and team work makes a huge difference to winning, who says it’s the taking part that matters?!!
This has set us up for what we hope to be a brilliant summer league. We will be playing our home matches at Turners Hill cricket pitch. We play every Monday and Wednesday evenings 6.30- 8.30pm, one home and one away match during the summer (mid May to end July) with the occasional cup match in August.

One of our special long serving players, Margaret Payne, has decided to retire from the game this year and we would like to take this opportunity to say a big thank you to her and farewell. Margaret joined the Copthorne Stoolball team over 50 years ago and has been a valued member of the team ever since, always turning up for a game with a bright smile and positive enthusiasm. Margaret was always keen to take on extra roles and was Chairperson for a considerable time. She also helped with the North division tournaments hosted by Copthorne and is famous for her meringue. Margaret was on the original committee that started to put forward ideas to get the new pavilion built on King George’s field. This pavilion has been invaluable to the Stoolball team, providing a comfortable venue to host our home games. We would all like to say what a great lady she is and how much she has done for the team, always welcoming and supportive of all our players. Margaret, we will miss you.

History of Stoolball – Stoolball is a bat and ball game now played mainly on village greens in the counties of Sussex, Kent and Surrey. Some argue that cricket is derived from Stoolball. Like cricket, it has eleven players-a-side who play in much the same positions. The wickets are a square board of wood on top of a wooden post or stake and the batter defends the board with a bat made of willow and shaped rather like an elongated table tennis bat. The pitch is smaller than cricket – 90 yards diameter – and does not have to be level, which harks back to its earliest origins in the 15th century when there were complaints of the game being played in churchyards after Sunday service.

The game started using milking stools (hence the name) which were placed on the ground and defended with the hand. The stools were also suspended from trees. Later the rules were formalised and the stools replaced with the wickets mounted on posts or stakes. There was a great revival during the First World War when the game was thought suitable for the recuperating wounded soldiers and even a match was played at Lord’s, the home of cricket, in 1917. It remained popular until WWII when social changes meant a decline in its popularity, but Copthorne is still one of several teams still playing!

Join us – We are always looking for new players to join our cheerful team. We are happy to welcome you even if you just want to be just a reserve player and fill in on the occasional match if we are short of players. If you are interested in this fun and traditional Sussex sport, please contact Hilary on 07923 609185.