There is a debate raging about the inaugural year of the Gardeners … well to be exact our longest serving player, the charismatic and talented Jim Monahan, has got 1975 stuck in his head contrary to all other sources pointing to 1976.  Jim was actually there of course unlike anyone else still playing for Salmagundi.  Please feel free to join the debate in the comments section.

Here’s some history gleaned from the Covent Garden website that was written a few years ago to form a recent history.  Any inaccuracies, or tales from halcyon days of yore, please let me know so I can include them.

Recently Chris Packham has been gathering some old pictures from Gardeners’ Alumni and I’ve pasted those in below.

Richard Higginbottom, September 2013

Jesus College down the years …







Lyme Regis 2002


Lyme Regis 2003




Jim Monahan circa 1973:


From the 1989 Independent Covent Garden News:

From the 1989 Independent Covent Garden News:

From 1996 by Chris Packham:


The Salmagundi’s are this year celebrating their 20th anniversary – which is a higher score than some of the players have achieved and only a little less than the whole team manages on one memorable occasion.

To mark this occasion a commemorative tee shirt has been commissioned by the team elder to be treasured alongside those other icons of longevity : Charles and Di mugs, Andrew and Fergie mugs, Mick Jagger’s mug.

Jim Monahan the only member of the ’76 team still playing, was recently hit for six by a London bus. The team wishes you a speedy recovery Jim, but next time something red travelling at speed comes towards you try and get a bat on it.

Team leadership this year is in the capable hands of captain James Tate BSc (Accountant) and vice captain Graham Portwine BSe (Bullocks) celebrity butcher and not only Sophie’s choice.

Happy Birthday Gardeners.

From 1997 by Mark Gilkes:

Regular readers of the cricket reports in the Covent Garden Independent News – reports which almost ritualistically ended with an invitation for anyone with enough legs to stand and enough eyes to see to join the club – may have formed the opinion Covent Garden’s cricket team (21 years old this summer) is only marginally more healthy than the hot-dogs sold illegally at the top of James Street. In fact, the club is thriving.

Under the shrewd and long-standing organisation of our Treasurer, Rob Mitchener (97), the club has generated so much spare kit that bats and gloves have had to be put away in storage – and it’s not as though we’re seeking to avoid wearing out such item. For instance, recently, at Finsbury Park, Jason Amesbury (83) smashed the ball in all directions on the way to his first century since schooldays. Incidentally, he was wearing the same flannels he wore at school – highly appropriate in a side which never throws out an item until it’s indisputably beyond repair, and which adopts entirely the same approach to its players.

What the club will dispense with quickly is any source of unpleasantness. Sometimes this comes in the form of the venue: the pitch preparation at Wandsworth Common (578) seems now to consist solely of the highly complex art of taking down the goalposts. Sometimes certain teams require to be dropped from our fixtures: those who fail to attend, those who behave in an ungentlemanly manner, those who beat us too often. These are quickly replaced with opponents who understand the nature of a sporting contest: Oak & Beech, Amersham (pub backing onto the pitch and pavilion with steaming tea urn); London Sports Club for the Blind (private bar and chips for tea); French House, Soho (smoked salmon sandwiches and chilled white wine served from a traditional hamper).

Under the ice-cool guidance of our Captain James Tait (77), last year was our most successful season. This year promises to be just as exciting – only last night in the pub our tearaway fast bowler Mike Fox (62) announced that his younger brother might be interested in playing. Whispers of awe accompanied the revelation that Fox Minor is a mere 49.

Our treasurer this year released funds for the purchase of a scoreboard – it now being something the team enjoys looking at. The new Go-Faster Zimmer frames have arrived and both last year’s leading batsman Chris Packham (102) and leading bowler Rod Birtles (95-and-a-half) have successfully tested them on the sloping pitch at Parliament Hill. They hope to be untangled by Sunday.

James Tait (Jurassic) picks the team. If you’d like to come along one Sunday and watch, you’re very welcome – even more so if you’re interested in playing; please contact him on 0171-240 3646. The notion that we achieve a standard in which our beginners might embarrass themselves is something our longest-serving member, Jim Monahan (2002), is committed to dispelling.
From 1997 by Mark Gilkes:

1997 was Salmagundi Gardeners’ most successful season. It was decided to spare readers of this report the exciting (edited) reports for the 1997 season, as they would have run into many pages. Not wishing to disappoint regular SGCC fans, however, we would like to share a few highlights:

13th September: vs. Case & Co at Uplyme (Gardeners on tour (1). SGCC 186 for 6, Cases 134 all out. Despite a downpour overnight, the Uplyme ground was ready for a noon start under a bright sun. The first two wickets fell quickly and the Gardeners were 6 for 2. Then Gilkes became the fifth Gardener of the summer to score a half-century. Monahan made a quick 27 with 3 sixes, then led the bowling with 3 wickets.

14th September: vs. Ashbrittle CC at Culmstock (Gardeners on tour (2). SGCC 157 for 9, Ashbrittle 143 all out. Wroe (47) was the backbone of an innings which saw the top eight batsmen all scoring. Amesbury entertained with 31 runs in eight scoring shots, including a nice six, which was bettered by Stewart, who flicked one off his legs into the next field. Wroe inspired a great fielding performance with a spectacular backward diving catch, and the final wicket fell with a Sessions stumping off a Monahan ball.

27th September: Abdul Aziz at Haydons Rd, Wimbledon. Abdul 118 for 4, SGCC 122 for 7. Abdul batted slowly but steadily to make 118 off 7 bowlers. The Salmagundi reply also started slowly but much less steadily. Fox opened the innings but had only the contribution of Oputu 19 to cheer him as his other 6 partners fell for 7 runs between them. It was 45 for 7 when Henry Monahan came to join Fox, but even with the ethos of the season being “every collapse is an opportunity for heroism,” this looked one game too many squeezed in at the end. However, Monahan and Fox batted sensibly and moved closer and closer to the target. With one run needed, Fox was 47 not out. The debate round the scorer’s table was: “should we tell him to hit out for his fifty?” Although opinions on this were divided, nobody felt brave enough to risk breaking Fox’s concentration at this vital stage. He played out a maiden and Monahan, who had become increasingly fluent as the partnership progressed, clipped the next ball for the winning runs to finish on 39 not out. Another incredible victory had been achieved.

Previous readers of Salmagundi reports might recall mention of over-aged and over-sized schoolboys munching too many cucumber sandwiches and quaffing fine ales at the crease, yet 1996 was Salmagundi’s most successful season, and this achievement was then bettered in 1997. New players are still as hard to find as ever, so the players who now bask in glory are those same individuals who once basked in the outfield like white-flannelled walruses. James Tait has been the skipper through this period of success: he can be contacted at cafés, patisseries and public houses in the Covent Garden and Soho areas.
From 1998 by James Tait:

Salmagundi Gardeners Cricket Club

The Gardeners The “Gardeners” feeding in their natural habitat during a recent display (no. 11 took the picture!)

Our Nature correspondent writes: For over 20 years, Covent Garden has been the home of a rare and endangered species. More commonly known as the ” amateur cricketer“,one can uncover a peculiar sub-species to be found uniquely in this area called the “Salmagundi Gardener“. You might observe one if you look carefully and follow the signs.

Only to be found in the summer months and in clement weather, our search starts at the Seven Dials. There on Sundays at around noon one might look for shy creatures congregating under the canopy of the Cambridge Theatre. The ” Gardener” will be identified by its blank but hopeful expression and will be carrying its equipment and food provisions for the day. Suddenly at the given signal, our subjects migrate together to their place of recreation. This will be a grassy field in various locations around and outside London.

If you discreetly follow this migration (stay up-wind) to their destination you will then marvel at their transformation into white plumage, gasp at their practice routines, shout with them as they call for wickets and cry for them as their play falters. Between restful moments in the open field, there is plenty of entertainment as ” Gardeners” dive and race after the hard red ball and then, putting on pads, use a wooden bat to whack the same ball right out of the field of play.

As the sun sets and the evening breezes rustle the trees, the play ends. ” Gardeners” then seek out more fluid provisions from a local source and with much animation discuss their day. Finally, the ” Gardeners” retrace their migration and the splendid show is over till the next week.

Ifyou would care to follow and take part in this exciting display of local fauna, you need only find a “Gardener” and you will learn of upcoming planned events. Remember, these are shy and delicate creatures and should be treated kindly.
1999 pictures by James Tait:

// //

“The pictorial evidence”
wellplay timefort

On Sundays, throughout the summer, the Gardeners find a grassy plot and make a sporting day of it. From Barn Elms to Lyme Regis (calling at Amersham and Appley, Hampstead and Hoo) your wandering knights of Covent Garden follow their cricket dreams and sometimes achieve them.

action keepings

In view of the doubts expressed by readers in previous years, we have decided to publish the evidence of our ‘successes’. A page from our score book, together with lots more photographs of the Gardeners in action, can be viewed on the CGCA website (www.coventgarden.org.uk). The photograph above is just one example of our existence!

gettingi wamingu

If you want to be in these pictures, join us by calling the CGCA office.

James Tait, Captain


From 2000 by Mark Gilkes:

From 2001 by Mark Gilkes:

Salmagundi Gardeners Cricketers’ Almanac

What awaits the cricketers of Covent Garden in the coming season? Astrological charts have been pored over – and copied down as fielding positions; a chicken has been slaughtered and its contents examined. Salmagundi’s Mystic Mark rubs a crystal ball against the front of his trousers and looks deep.


The colour red and the material leather will have significance. After numerous emails and a block booking of nets with bowling machine and professional coach, Skipper Erik Samuelson will be the lone figure at pre-season training, while, simultaneously, six other players will meet in The Crown to bemoan the lack of commitment. The Natural History Museum will be called in to name a fungus found growing in the kit bag.


The first game of the season will be won easily – despite Mike Fox being involved in a run out – as Big Phil Sessions will smite 88 off 22 balls.

Jim Monahan will arrive late from the May Fayre, having been savaged by a hyacinth. Something, involving either a win, loss, draw or postponement, will happen in proximity to grass.


James Tait, frantically padding up during a batting collapse, might buckle his pads into his sandals, and be stabbed in the buttock by a scoring pencil. Mike Fox will be involved in a run out.


Joe Fox will score 63no and take 4-17 off 14 overs – at the league club for whom he left Salmagundi. Louis Monahan, although seven years his junior, will be rudely pushed into the role of Son Who Is Required To Win The Game. Ulric Algar will hear his name pronounced correctly. In the opposition scorebook Seorais Graham will see the 197th spelling of his name. Mike Fox will be involved in a run out. The finger of a man in a white coat points the way.


In the Salmagundi scorebook Seorais Graham will see his surname misspelled. Chris Packham will roll a cigarette and comment ironically upon the ten-year-old hole in the knee of Mark Gilkes’s whites. He may well afterwards smoke his cigarette with a satisfied air. Mike Fox will be involved in a run out.

James Tait will produce a tea of quail’s eggs and truffles – no sandwiches, just quail’s eggs and truffles. Unlucky tree: willow.


Big Phil Sessions will complete an unprecedented season of playing in every game – with the aggregate score of 88. Adam Wood will be the only Salmagundi in ten years of touring to accept the invitation to sail Lyme bay.

His later claim to have seen a porpoise will cause less offence once it’s established James Tait’s morning swim was three hours earlier. Mike Fox will be arrested for a firearm offence as he seeks to persuade the non-striking batsman not to call him through on a sharp single.


Abdul Aziz Cricket Club will try to persuade Salmagundi to play an extra fixture in the badlands south of Croydon.


Abdul Aziz will call to see if we’re interested in squeezing in a last game in between the footballers on Hackney Marsh.


Abdul Aziz will suggest a game on the iced-over Serpentine.

If Salmagundi is to survive the coming season, it’s desperately important that all (or none) of these predictions come true. Even if you are interested only in helping eat the quail’s eggs and truffles, call the Salmagundi Soothsayer: 020 7836 9797

Salmagundi Gardeners in Literary On-Drive


Dorothy Parker, on hearing of the death of President Coolidge, allegedly said, “How could they tell?” Might she have reacted similarly to sightings of Salmagundi Gardeners playing cricket? Were she not dead (something most of our players have over her), an invitation to watch us very much alive and playing in New York’s Central Park would be winging its way to The Algonquin Hotel.

Winging its way prematurely, that is, because no such game has been arranged – but it can be only a matter of time, for this reason: there exists in New York a Salmagundi Club. This gathering of American artists and literati is believed to be connected to the Greenwich Village Preservation Society. A twinning with the Covent Garden Community Association and our own village of Covent Garden seems to follow naturally.

The American club was founded in 1830. By a staggering coincidence this is precisely the time on a Sunday evening Salmagundi Cricketers are throwing away their wicket in order to get to the pub. It’s unclear exactly when the name Salmagundi was copied from us (cleverly in advance), but it was after an incident that became known as the Salmagundi Papers. Could these in any way be linked with the Sunday papers that all Salmagundi batsmen settle down with not long after bravely striding out to the crease?

The Salmagundi Club has an address in 5th Avenue, which, as many will know, runs down one side of Central Park. Clearly, for this match which must be played, it would be more convenient for the Americans to act as hosts – this in spite of the help, if we did play at home, the cobbles of the Piazza might give our spinners.

What connects our two great organisations more than anything (apart from the name, which actually connects us more than anything) is the literary and artistic milieu that is Salmagundi Gardeners Cricket Club. Nowhere will you find – not even in Faulkner or Hemingway (“grace under pressure”) – narrative as beautiful and moving as the Salmagundi batsman’s explanation of how that couldn’t possibly be LBW.

As for the artists in the side – they know who they are. So a transatlantic cultural exchange is inevitable. Assuming New York’s Salmagundi will put aside their rounders (a game occasionally tacked on to a picnic) for the noble art of cricket (a game within which the picnic is inherent), the sounds of leather on willow will soon be dancing playfully on the wind with the hooters of the Staten Island ferry and the horns of the yellow taxi cabs.

Salmagundi Gardeners Cricket Club has represented Covent Garden since 1976. New, young, old and occasional players are always welcome. You do not need any cricket equipment of your own to play. If you know who Dorothy Parker was you might be asked to open the innings.

This year’s club captain is Erik Samuelson who can be contacted on 020 8672 2194 (home) and erik@esamuelson.demon.co.uk

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