Cecil Hodgson had emigrated to England and was living in Edgbaston, Birmingham. The story continues….
In 1950 – just a year before Cecil came to England – the West Indies cricket team had toured England to play a four-match Test series against the host nation.
The second Test match in the series took place at Lord’s Cricket Ground – the Home of English cricket.
The talented West Indies won this match at Lords and then ultimately won the series 3-1 making history as being the first time ever that a West Indies test team had won a cricket match in England.
The following year 1951, ‘Wisden’ cricket magazine – The Bible of Cricket – named four West Indian players from that successful four game series, as Cricketer’s of the Year.
Those four players were Trinidad and Tobago born, Sonny Ramadhin, Jamaican, Alf Valentine and the two Barbadians, Everton Weekes and Frank Worrell. Also part of that team was another Barbadian, Clyde Walcott.
Ramadhin and Valentine brilliantly made their test debuts in the England match.
Panama born, West Indian cricket legend George Headley – Known as The Black Bradman – had retired from international cricket by this time, so didn’t play in the tour. He was now an English citizen living in the Midlands, playing local cricket for Dudley Cricket Club.
West Indies XI Formed
After West Indies success in England, their exquisite cricket was in high demand. During the summer of 1951, a West Indian man living in Birmingham named Dr Winston Carlyle Pilgrim, had come up with the idea of forming a West Indian XI using those famous West Indians, some of whom were now playing their club Cricket in England.
This West Indies XI venture would involve them playing benefit matches all around the country to help raise money for cricketing causes. They would eventually play matches in front of 5,000 – 10,000 thousand fans, predominantly English cricket fans who craved to see the exciting West Indian’s in action.
By the 1952 season, the English public were excited by West Indian calypso cricket and wanted to see more of it. But in February 1952 the West Indies team were playing test matches in New Zealand. In that team was Worrell, Weekes, Ramadhin Valentine and others.
West Indian cricketer’s were now playing their club cricket in England. In the summer of 1952, Dr Pilgrim’s ‘West Indian XI’ played matches in England.
Pilgrim’s team contained a host of stars, some of whom had played in that great West Indies Test team during that famous tour of England in 1950 and also in the recent New Zealand tour.
Team selections varied. Although they didn’t always play together in the same team, Worrell, Weekes, Ramadhin and Valentine played matches throughout the summer of 1952.
Also picked to play in Pilgrim’s team was none other than the old legend, George Headley who was now a wicket keeper as well as a batsman. George was playing his club cricket in the Midlands and living at the Station Hotel, Dudley.
There was also a talented ‘non-famous’ star in the team – Cecil Hodgson. Whilst living at Rotton Park Road in Edgbaston, Cecil had come into contact with Dr Pilgrim, the organiser of the team.
Although he was 41 years old, unmarried Cecil Hodgson was still involved in cricket and played local Cricket in the Birmingham league for Aston Unity Cricket Club.
Uncle Cecil Played For The West Indies 2nd Team. Conversation with my Dad Renford Hodgson in 2004
Cecil became a teammate of George Headley and co when Dr Pilgrim invited him to join the newly formed West Indies XI team. This was a wonderful opportunity for him to play amongst some of the finest players in world cricket.
George Headley Lodged At The Station Hotel. Dudley Cricket Club Was Just Opposite
Dr Winston Carlyle Pilgrim
In the 1950’s Dr Pilgrim was a leading influential figure in Britain’s West Indian Community. He was the voice and president of the ‘Midlands branch’ British West Indies Association.
This organisation had been formed to help look after the well-being of the newly arrived coloured West Indian’s that had arrived in Birmingham.
Dr Pilgrim was also a keen cricketer and secretary of a Birmingham Cricket Club (unknown)
Pilgrim was a Barbadoes born man who had come early to Britain in 1930. He ran a surgery at Chester Road, Erdington, Birmingham after taking it over in November 1940, the night that Coventry was bombed during World War Two.
Dr Pilgrim had gained his qualifications in Edinburgh, Scotland and married a Scottish woman who worked at that University and taught him a lot about drugs and medicine. He must have remained in Scotland for some time as he spoke with a slight Scottish accent.
In the summer of 1952, The West Indies XI began playing benefit games in England, raising money for cricketing causes. They played several benefit matches to gather money for George Headley, who was wanted back in Jamaica to become their cricket coach.
A target fund of around £1,000 was eventually collected for him. In fact, Jamaica was so keen to employ his services, that the Jamaica Gleaner Newspaper began a subscription to raise the money to help get him there.
Sunday 15th June 1952. The West Indian XI Played A Benefit Match At Moseley, Birmingham. Back row left to right, Cecil Hodgson, Unknown, Unknown, Sonny Ramadhin, Unknown. Middle row, Dr Pilgrim, Frank Worrell, George Headley, Alf Valentine, Unknown. Front row, Unknown, Unknown.
Can anyone correctly name the unnamed players. Please get in touch if you can.
The West Indies XI team would play matches, predominantly in the Midlands but also in various places all over England. Cecil also played cricket with the team in Scotland.
The team played benefit matches in front of thousands of fans for about three English summers between the years 1951-1954, before eventually being disbanded. Cecil played from 1952.
He played cricket in Scotland before we met. Telephone Conversation with Cecil’s widow Helen Hodgson née Kirkpatrick in 2004
Years later after his death, the Panama legend George Headley MBE, would be immortalised in a bronze statue at Sabina Park Cricket ground, Kingston, Jamaica
George Headley Statue, Sabina Park, Kingston, Jamaica
The Barbadoes trio – known as the 3 W’s – Sir Frank Worrell, Sir Clyde Walcott and Sir Everton Weekes, were memoralised in stone at Barbadoes.
The 3 w’s. Worrell, Walcott and Weekes
Uncle Cecil always said the three w’s kept him out the West Indies test team. Face to face Conversation with my Uncle Clinton Roy Hodgson in 2017
Jamaican, Cecil Hodgson became a ‘Southfield Hodgson’ legend when he played amongst those world known greats.
Cecil Hodgson Wearing A West Indies Cap
As you can see, the Hodgson’s had a top class cricket player in the family. It has been said that Cecil’s father Mass Teddy also played cricket too in his teens and was quite good.
Cecil’s ‘Southfield Hodgson’ nephew’s, Valdie, Renford (my dad) Clinton and Ainsley were also good cricketer’s in Jamaica, They would soon play cricket in England too….
“Researching the ‘West Indies XI’ was eye-opening and extremely enjoyable. My father once mentioned to me many years ago that Cecil had played cricket for a ‘West Indies 2nd team’ in England during the 1950’s before he himself came to England.
His hazy memories recalled to me that it was started by a ‘Dr William Pitt??’ of Birmingham. I instantly became interested in finding out more about this story and searched for a long long time for a Dr William Pitt but it wasn’t until I found the team photograph in Cecil’s photo album at Southfield way back in 2004, that I eventually discovered that the Doctors name was in fact Dr Winston Pilgrim.
From then I slowly began to piece together the full story. I didn’t completely solve it until last year.
Not being interested in cricket, I didn’t know any of those famous faces in the photo, I didn’t even know that Cecil was one of them until my dad identified him and began telling me about those West Indian legends. I now know about those characters.
Researching ‘The West Indies XI’ has helped expand my knowledge about Cecil Hodgson’s early life in England. I never knew he was such a legend! Robert Roy Hodgson
Due to work commitments I was not able to upload the blogs that had been planned for this week. Apologies.