This stone is more commonly known as the Tom Ruff Memorial Stone.
It is locally listed by Merton Council, who say:
The memorial stone is located in the south western corner of the Cricket Green, to the east of London Rd.
The memorial stone is made of portland stone, measuring approximately 900 mm x 900 mm x 1.1 metres (height). It is roughly cut, and contains 4 smooth surfaced panels.
It commemorates “the birthplace of the noble game of cricket which has been played here since the early 18th century”. On one side of the stone there is a carved coat of arms of the Borough of Mitcham, on another the names of notable cricketers who played here are recorded, on a third is recorded the name of Tom Ruff (Mayor of Mitcham and cricket lover) 1897- 1962.
The original list of Outstanding Mitcham Cricketers, in the 1964 Mitcham Cricket Club Yearbook, on pages 39 and 41, were described by Tom Higgs.
TOM RUFF, Mayor of Mitcham, who died on March 17, 1962, his year of office, was a modest man. He would have been incredulous that his memorial in Portland Stone would have been erected on Mitcham Green. He would have been delighted that the names of 17 outstanding Mitcham cricketers shared the place of honour with his. And he would have been thrilled that every penny of the cost of making and siting the stone came from voluntary contributions throughout the borough.
The names of the cricketers are in rough chronological order. The main criterion for their inclusion is that each must have played for Mitcham Cricket Club. Space has been left for additions.
J. BOWYER. Born 1790. Played for Mitcham at the age of 16. One of five Mitcham men who played for Surrey against All-England in 1810. After he retired he umpired for Mitcham for many years. When he died in 1880, aged 90, he was buried at Mitcham Church and a cricket bat was placed on his coffin.
D. HAYWARD. Born 1808. Played for Surrey up to 1847. Was reputed to have been one of the Mitcham players wno played in Australia but this is unlikely because the first England team did not visit there until 1861.
C. H. HOARE. Born 1819 A founder member of Surrey CCC and in fact,, the first captain. He later became Treasurer and this doubtless accounts for the very close relationship between Mitcham and Surrey.
T. SHERMAN. Born in Mitcham in 1827. Played regularly for Surrey from 1846 to 1861 (he staged a come-back in 1870.) Was described as one of the finest fast bowlers of the period. In 1859 he formed the New All- England XI as rivals to the established All-England XI (formed by William Clark.) These were travelling teams of professional cricketers who would take on local elevens (or even more) – provided the fee was right. Died in 1912 as the result of being knocked down by a pony and trap in
St. Mark’s Road.
J. SOUTHERTON. Born 1827. Still holds two unique records — the only man to have played for three counties in one season (Surrey, Sussex and Hampshire, in 1854). Is also the olddest player on Test debut (49 years England v Australia, Melbourne, 1876). Played for Surrey from 1854-5; 1867 — 1879. Only three bowlers took more than 1,000 wickets for Surrey before 1900. Two of them Southerton and Tom Richardson came from Mitcham. Southerton later became publican at the Cricketers Inn.
T. SEWELL, JNR. Born 1830. Played in 121 matches for Surrey from 1859 to 1868. Member of the first team to visit Australia. Was always referred to as “Young Tom” to distinguish him from his father who played for Surrey from 1844-49.
T. HUMPHREY. Born 1839. Known as “The Pocket Hercules”; 5ft. 4ins. Played for Surrey from 1862-1874 and used to open the innings with H. Jupp “the most famous opening pair in England; the veritable prototype of Hayward and Hobbs; Hobbs and Sandham”. Played in 166 games and scored 5572 runs, with four centuries.
R. HUMPHREY. The youngest of three brothers. Born 1848. Played for Surrey from 1870 until 1881. Scored 4,498 runs in first-class cricket. The 1937 Mitcham Year Book includes him among the Mitcham cricketers who have toured Australia.
W. W. THOMPSON. Essentially a c!ub cricketer, was captain of Mitcham during the 1880s when he played a very great part in preserving the well¬being of the Green, at that time threatened by an influx of swings, round-abouts, etc. He approached the Ecclesiastical Commissioners to obtain a lease of the Green on behalf of the cricket club and then formed the Mitcham Green Preservation Society.
T. P. HARVEY. The 1937 Year Book contains a photograph of the Mitcham CC in 1891 and describes Harvey as “the greatest Mitcham skipper in living memory.” He did not play for Surrey but captained the County 2nd XI on a number of occasions.
T. RICHARDSON. What is there new to say about Tom Richardson, except to get it on the record that he wasn’t born in Mitcham at all. He was born at Byfleet in 1870 and came to Mitcham as a small boy. Played for Surrey from 1892 to 1901 and appeared in 14 Tests. Took 2,105 wickets in his career, record 290 in one season and 88 in Tests. Did the “hat-trick” three times and against Essex in 1895 took all 10 wickets for 45 runs.
F. HOLLAND. Born 1876. Played for Surrey from 1894 to 1908, scoring 10, 384 runs, including 12 centuries (average 25.57). Made a tremendous impression when he first joined the County at the age of 17 and scored 70 in his first match. Injured his arm and never recaptured this remark¬able form. Still holds (with T. N. Crawford) the record fifth wicket stand for Surrey: 308 v Somerset ( 1908 ).
H. STRUDWICK. Born Mitcham 1880. Learned his cricket playing for the parish church choir. Played for Mitcham Wanderers CC because, as he modestly put it “Mitcham had a better v/icket keeper in A.P. Clarke.” Strudwick played for Surrey from 1899-1927; thereafter scorer until 1937 — a span of 60 years! During this time he stumped 258, caught 1,235 and appeared in 28 Tests.
E. BALE. Born Mitcham 1878. Might have won the highest honours as a wicket-keeper had he not been a contemporary of Strudwick. Played for Surrey in 1904 but. realising the limited opportunities there, qualified for Worcester (1908-1920). Played for Rest v Champion County in 1910 when Wisden described him as “second to no one in England save Strudwick.”
A. SANDHAM. Joined Mitcham 1907 and played regularly until being en¬gaged by Surrey in 1911. Played for the county until 1937 when he was appointed coach and, in 1957, scorer. Scored 41, 284 runs (107 centuries and played in 14 Tests.
B. BULLOCK. Born 1896. Played for Mitcham Juniors at the age of 11; scored his first 100 at 15 and was a regular member of the Mitcham First XI at 17. Joined Surrey staff in 1921 but as a contemporary of Hobbs, Sandham, Ducat and Shepherd got few opportunities. Left the Oval in 1926 to become a cricket coach. On his return to Mitcham became match sec¬retary and started the series of Wilson Hospital charity matches.
T. J. H.
See the Mitcham Cricket Club’s website for the list of those that were added in 2014. For more about all the players listed here you can buy copies of the two booklets from ebay using these links: Outstanding and Outstanding 2, or from the Club Secretary.