Founded 1972 and honorary member of the Federazione Cricket Italiana

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The Contribution of Henry Putnam to The Milan Cricket Club

The year probably 1971, and a discussion possibly in John Dexter's house in Milan, at which the idea of a Cricket Club was mooted. The essentials were that John De Vita, then the Manager of Ronson Italy, reckoned that he could provide some basic "Kit" probably sponsored by his company.  John Dexter , with his family holiday house up at Menaggio , said the he might manage to find a pitch in that area.
They went about their tasks and at some future occasion were saying that they were almost ready and that they had a team forming up.

In 1969/70 shortly after my arrival, as Manager of CCC, I had found that our Milan Sports area, in Via Giambellino, consisted of 2 Tennis courts and 2 Squash courts (the only ones in Italy at the time).  They had been built on the space of a 3rd Tennis Court , by one Jim Ruffell , Sir James Henderson's successor as CCC Manager and one of my predecessors. The courts had fallen into disuse and so I had created the "Giambellino Squash Club of Milan" with an annual subscription of Lit 10,000. ( today 5 ! ). Squash players still around today , include Chris Beavan, Mark Dawson , Jo Varley, Luke McFarlane and myself. There may be others.

It was 1972, and seeing their anxious faces , with the "No one to play against look", I challenged them as the "Giambellino Squash Club XI". A team of Squash players was raised, and went on being raised for many years, involving players travelling from as far afield as Glasgow , and Jesse Vaugan, the American scratch Golfer and crack Baseball player , even had coaching at Lords to improve his style. He didn't hit any 6's after that though! One will never forget his 6 that went through the windscreen of the Visiting Vicar's car!

This became an annual fixture, usually a 2 day, 2 innings match, with results covering wins on both sides, draws and once memorably a tie. When CCC had to sell the sports ground in Milan, I was asked to keep the fixture going , and our Team became HTP's Eleven and on one occasion had 5 members of the Putnam family playing , with Mrs Putnam as usual providing special lunch time refreshments. Your score books will record the results , but I doubt if we won that one !

The task of producing a valid opposition to the MCC was an annual struggle for me , involving getting the Consulate on occasions , players from CCC's visiting group specialists , and EX CCC men , who had left Italy with a promise to return. Players were drafted in from the MCCC (Monte Carlo) and the Ispra Euratom team , when numbers were down. I even had to ask for an MCC player once or twice!

The MCC kindly presented me with a plaque after 21 years and a set of brass stumps after 25! I also have a 1986 signed miniature bat with some great names signed on the face. These include such as, SR Bramley, David Sweetman, John Thorpe, Richard Murray, Roger Barker, Derek Oakes, Roy Day, Paul Brown, Jesse Vaugan, John Ford, John Hanrahan, to name those still legible!

It was only after 27 years , when I heard the MCC Captain , David Sweetman , say quietly to a Sri Lankan fast bowler "Slow it down a bit for Henry" that I decided to hang up my boots. That was in 1999.
I have kept on attending the occasional match and more often  the Christmas dinners, and on one very special occasion, when Bram, the MCC President from 1989, was unwell and unable to attend the dinner he asked me to read the following speech on his behalf, and present the trophies:  " Since that first game in 1972, the passage, usually brief, of well over 1000 cricketers has enabled the MCC to survive, at times, even to thrive. This has been possible, only due to the Club's two permanent officials. Without the optimism and enthusiasm of David Sweetman, and the realism and administration of John Thorpe, the club could have folded many times, when one wondered where the next season's side was to be found.  The Club has recognized some of the departed thousand with a small token of appreciation. As David and John are rooted in Italy, this is a little "Thank you" from a non performing but most appreciative President.  It is said that at the back of every successful man there is a woman, so these are for Gill, Marriuccia and Liliana, best barbecue utilities."

It must be said that Bram's fund of jokes, when making the President's speech on Saturday evenings was unparalleled. He had a meticulous filing system, so as never to allow the same joke to be heard twice by the same person!

Indeed many of the 27 lunches were most successful Barbecues, organized by such worthies as John Hanrahan , Chris Leech , Hugo Putnam and others. The Saturday evenings enabled players to get to know many of the best eating places up and down the lakesides, both in  Lugano and Como.

Note by D.S. Over the many years during which Henry raised a team to play against us, he found a considerable number of players who subsequently joined our club and as a result strengthened our team.