On Friday 20 July 1962 I went to the last day of what would turn out to be the final Lord’s cricket match between the Gentlemen and Players. Throughout this season sixty years ago, English first class cricket was still played by a mixture of paid professionals (Players) and unpaid amateurs (Gentlemen), and every year a team from each category played a three day game at the home of cricket, as well as a later match at the Scarborough Festival. A small group of boys from my school travelled up to London on the Friday where we bought scorecards, watched the game and hung around at the close of play for long enough to get autographs. I dutifully filled in my scorecard with a stubby pencil and at the end of the day had it signed by one of the most recognisable figures in the amateur team, Rev David Sheppard, sometime captain of both Sussex and England, who went on to become Bishop of Liverpool.
1962 was the year in which sport began to change as the amateur tradition began to fade – the shock caused by Rod Laver turning pro after completing his Grand Slam in the autumn of 1962 surely speeded up the process that brought in the open era in tennis just six years later. Athletics followed, the Olympic tradition of only allowing amateurs to compete was largely devalued by the combination of sponsorship and surreptitious payments in the west and the blatant use of state subsidy in the Soviet bloc. Restrictions began to be relaxed in the 1970s. Rugby Union took a lot longer.
Cricket actually prefigured these other sports. The process to abolish amateurism had taken several years and various committees before being ushered in by a vote of the Advisory County Cricket Committee on 26 November 1962. (The whole event is documented in Charles Williams’s book, Gentlemen and Players, Phoenix 2013, which is an entertaining read.) The last Gentlemen v. Players match (which was actually at Scarborough on 8/10 and 11 September 1962) had been played.
With The Beatles
The Beatles played a staggering 38 live performances throughout the month of July 1962. Nearly all of these were in the Merseyside area but they also travelled to Rhyl and Swindon.
The month’s UK Top Tens
1. Come Outside: Mike Sarne With Wendy Richard
2. A Picture Of You: Joe Brown
3. Good Luck Charm: Elvis Presley
4. I Can’t Stop Loving You: Ray Charles
5. Ginny Come Lately: Brian Hyland
6. Do You Want To Dance/I’m Looking Out The Window: Cliff Richard
7. Green Leaves Of Summer: Kenny Ball And His Jazzmen
8. Ain’t That Funny: Jimmy Justice
9. Stranger On The Shore: Mr Acker Bilk
10. Sharing You: Bobby Vee
Films released this month