Ray FloodMemories come flooding back for Ray
Among the fair-sized crowd at the Sports Ground for last Friday's Stone Cup final was Lymington Honourary Member Ray Flood. It was a nostalgic return to the Sports Ground for Ray who made his debut for his home town club as a 14 year old in 1950 before joining the select band of Lymingtonians who went on to play First Class cricket. In all, Ray made 38 First Class appearances for Hampshire before injury curtailed his professional career in 1962.

Ray began his cricketing life at the Sports Ground as a scoreboard operator on the orders of his teacher Len Hoare. "I didn't have much choice, really" says Ray. "Mr Hoare told me: 'You WILL do the scoreboard on Saturday, Flood!" and that was it." Ray had a keen eye for sport and was soon selected for Lymington Second XI. On his debut against Pylewell Park Ray scored 85 and shared a then record stand of 139 for the fifth wicket with Sid Fryer.

Mr Hoare was obviously suitably impressed with Ray as it was he who wrote to Hampshire asking them to take a look at the young Flood. Ray was duly given the opportunity to play for Hampshire Colts before progressing to the Club & Ground and Second XIs. Following his National Service Ray made his Hampshire debut in 1957 against Northants at Portsmouth, scoring 19 and a duck. Was Ray nervous about the prospect of facing England and Northants' demon bowler Frank Tyson? "Not really", admitted Ray. "He was fast, but the game was played in a different spirit then and bowlers weren't trying to bang it in at your head like they do today."

At that time Hampshire were building a useful side that would eventually bring the County its first Championship in title 1961. As a result Ray's opportunities were often limited, but he nonetheless played against many of the legendary names in English cricket at the time. "I remember scoring 50 against Oxford University at the Parks, and after the match I was all set to return to Southampton when captain Colin Ingleby-McKenzie told me I was to travel up to Hull to play against Yorkshire the following day. So I ended up facing Freddie Truman. He wasn't as fast as Tyson but he could do a lot more with the ball."

Ray also played against Ken Barrington. "He scored a big ton against us, but we still beat Surrey by 20 runs on that occasion." But Ray's finest moment came at Hove in 1958 when he scored 138 not out against Sussex. When asked if it was a good 138, Ray replied: "Well I bloody well thought so!"

Having had a cartledge operation in 1956, the strain of playing so much cricket eventually took its toll and Ray was sadly forced to quit the professional game in 1962. "My knee just couldn't take any more," Ray recalls. "Some days it swelled up like a balloon." After his retirement Ray was offered the chance to play for the two big Southampton clubs Deanery and Old Tauntonians, but opted to play for his local Lyndhurst side instead, occasionally returning to the Sports Ground to play in the Stone Cup competition. Ray, who is nearing his 70th birthday, currently umpires for Swan Green Second XI.

TP

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