Famous Cricketers No 39 - D.C.S.Compton

DENIS COMPTON Denis Charles Scott Compton was born on 23rd May 1918 at 47 Alexandra Road, Hendon, London NW4. He was the youngest of the three children of Henry Ernest Compton and Jessie Anne Duthie who were married on 23rd September 1911 at Holy Trinity Church, Lee, S.E. London. The other siblings of the marriage were Leslie Harry, born 12th September 1912 at Woodford, Essex and Hilda, born 1913 in the West Ham registration district. Leslie became an excellent footballer with Arsenal and played for England in two full internationals. He also played 274 first-class matches for Middlesex between 1938 and 1956, scoring over 5,000 runs and keeping wicket. Compton is a very old English name, the first trace being of a Nicholas de Compton in Lincolnshire in 1273. It is also the family name of the Marquesses of Northampton. The Compton branch that we are directly concerned with comes from the London area. The cricketer’s grandfather, Charles Compton, a railway guard, was born in 1857 and married Isabella Sarah Sumpter on 20th March 1880 at Christ Church, Hoxton. He was the son of Emanuel Compton, an engine driver. Denis’s father, Henry, was a self-employed builder and decorator initially in the East End of London and subsequently had his own business in Hendon. He was a good club cricketer and gave Denis his first enthusiasm for the game. Denis attended Bell Lane Primary School, Hendon and soon showed outstanding ability at both football and cricket, far outshining all his contemporaries. In 1930 at the age of 12 he played his first match at Lord’s appearing for North London Schoolboys against South London Schoolboys when he made 88. This was followed by an innings of 90 in an inter-schools game at Leyton, the headquarters at that time of Essex CCC. His footballing ability had also been noticed by the relevant authorities and he played for Middlesex Boys followed by a representative match at Bristol for English Schools v Wales. This brought him to the attention of Arsenal F.C. then at the height of their powers managed by the legendary Herbert Chapman and he was given a trial in a junior game at Chesterfield. Compton left school at Easter 1933 and was immediately taken on the M.C.C. ground staff as a Nipper or Roller Boy at a weekly wage of twenty-five shillings (£1.25). His duties comprised general maintenance work, bowling in the nets, pulling the roller, and selling scorecards on match days. He had made his first noteworthy appearance at Lord’s in the previous September when he captained the London Elementary Schools versus C.F.Tufnell’s XI. He opened the innings with Arthur McIntyre, the future Surrey and England wicket-keeper, and scored a well-merited 114. It was this innings that so impressed Sir Pelham Warner, as he later became, and led to his being offered a post at Lord’s. Compton came under the watchful eye of the senior professional, George Fenner, and later Archie Fowler. He was soon elevated to the Third Class of the ground staff and played occasionally for M.C.C. in out matches. When not required at Lord’s he played for Stamford Hill C.C. He made a century at Felixstowe for the M.C.C. against Suffolk in August 1934. In all he played four matches that season scoring 222 runs in 5 innings. In the following season he became a regular for M.C.C. altogether playing 16 times for the Club in out matches and making 690 runs. He first appeared with his future famous partner, Bill Edrich, who was also on the ground staff, together with other well known cricketers to be such as Harry Sharp, Jack Robertson and brother Leslie. 1936 saw his elevation to the first-class game. He came to the particular notice of E.W.Swanton in a Middlesex Second XI match at Folkestone, who recommended him to G.O.B.Allen as a very fine prospect. The story of his debut match in the Whitsuntide encounter againt Sussex at Lord’s has been well documented. He added 36 runs with Allen for the tenth wicket and also took a wicket with his eleventh ball in first-class cricket. He soon advanced up the batting order, scoring his first century in the top grade in his sixth match, at Northampton. He was awarded his county cap in August and reached his 1,000 runs, the youngest player to perform this feat in his debut season. He missed the last three Championship games as he was required for footballing duties at Arsenal. It was subsequently 3