31st May 1998….On this day, a significant game entered W.H.C.C. folklore, with multiple records set that still stand to this day. The 11 players who travelled to Ward End Unity for this memorable match were, Steve Hartshorne. Stuart Pollitt. Ron Noble. Tim Oliver. Gary Reeves. Rick Jarrams. Steve Nicholls. John Nicholls. Martin Liggins. Richard Fell and Frank Jacob. It was the first two names on this all-star cast that were about to dominate proceedings.
Stuart Pollitt and Steve Hartshorne were a formidable opening partnership when on song. A left hand/right hand combination, both with classical styles. Imagine Mike Atherton and Alastair Cook batting together. Steve, played with a bat so straight, most local builders would have been happy to use the Hartshorne willow as a spirit level. His regular partner Stu, had a habit of accumulating big scores. The type of batsman who you just knew, if he got in, would be around for the duration.
With these two Masters batting first, the Ward End Unity bowlers were put to the sword. 50-0……100-0……150-0……200-0…..Finally, with the partnership at 234, Steve departed for 80, which included 8 fours. The perfect foil to what was building at the other end. Pollitt, the aggressor of the duo, blasted 144 not out off 129 balls. A magnificent innings containing 22 fours, taking a particular liking to the bowling of Hancox, who’s 9 overs went for 70. Ron Noble came out to bat with Pollitt for the last few overs, Ron doing what Ron did best, walk off the pitch not out. The final total, 276-1.
The highest individual score, and the highest ever partnership both in the same game was a bit special. 21 years later, both records still stand. It is a rare occasion when Stu Pollitt’s record score gets threatened. Andy Ince hit 136 at Lapworth in 2013, the closest anyone has ever been since. The double century partnership of 234 remains the only one of its kind in club history.
The game continued in remarkable fashion with Ward End Unity chasing an unlikely 277 to win. However, opening batsman Zabar, smashed 136. The only problem was, lack of support. No other player made more than 15, but with Zabar still at the crease, the game remained alive. Nine bowlers were used in an attempt to dislodge the Ward End centurion. Finally, the breakthrough came. Zabar…caught R.Fell, bowled S.Pollitt. To cap a memorable day for Stu…. Ward End finishing on 175-8. Rick Jarrams coming on at the death to bowl 1 over 1 maiden and take 1 wicket to round up a great day.
Steve and Stu continued to score many runs for the club in the years that followed. Steve, affectionately known as Hertz Van Rental amassed a total of 3,100 runs including 33 half centuries. Steve was also a prolific run scorer on the annual tour to Cardiff. After plundering many 50’s, Hertz enjoyed nothing more than a quiet celebration, eating a “Cone of Chips” Not the conventional cone you maybe be thinking of though. Steve also won more Grand Nationals than Red Rum, and was a magnificent sight over the Welsh front garden versions of Bechers Brook and The Chair. His son Alex carried on the family tradition, playing plenty of games between 2003-2010.
Stu continued to be the class act at the top of the order until moving north to pursue a career in broadcasting/journalism in 2007. But not before scoring over 2,000 runs at an average of just under 40, including seven centuries and thirteen 50’s. In all of his 74 innings for W.H.C.C. Pollitt was never ever out for the score we all dread. A duck. Stu was also a handy bowler. A bit of a partnership breaker from what I recall. But back on that day in May 1998, these two players created a moment worthy of a call to Roy Castle and Norris McWhirter….Pollitt and Hartshorne, The Record Breakers.