The Cooper Associates County Ground received a visit from a special guest this week. Susann Savidge, Chair of the Somerset African Caribbean Network, was given a tour of the Ground by Somerset Cricket Foundation’s Community Activation Officer, Mustafa Shaikh and was also shown around the Somerset Cricket Museum. We joined her in the 1875 Club during her visit.
“I’ve come along today to learn about the Caribbean players who have contributed to cricket in Somerset and at this particular ground,” she said. “I’m keen to learn about how their contribution has been marked, particularly this year because this is the 75th anniversary of Windrush. Whilst Somerset has a relatively small African Caribbean community, there is representation within our communities and there have been outstanding performances by Caribbean players here in Taunton and that makes up an important part of Somerset’s history.
“We are now at the end of Black History Month, and I was delighted to see that Somerset County Cricket Club have been marking the occasion. It’s pleasing to see these Caribbean players elevated and recognised. It’s been brilliant to see the artifacts in the museum and the memorial gates. I loved what I experienced in the museum today and I think that could be developed as a learning opportunity to provide not just a visual experience but also taking on other aspects of the culture.
“I was thrilled to learn that Viv was not only a big deal on the field, but that he was able to experience Somerset. I’d love to know more about his experiences of Somerset, and I’m sure that he loved it and immersed himself in it. He will have learned from Somerset people, and they would have learned from him. That interplay of cultures and the brotherhood that comes from it would have been an amazing thing to see.
“We know that Black footballers at that time had to deal with a lot of discrimination, but I don’t believe that it was quite the same in the world of cricket. That isn’t to say that it didn’t exist in some shape or form, but certainly not to the extent that we saw it on the football terraces.
“I’m very grateful to be here today and I think it’s a relationship that we can utilise very well so that we can ensure that those players are recognised in the way they should be. Moving forward, I think that there are things that we can be doing. We’re moving out of Black History month and we’re almost at the end of the Windrush 75th anniversary year, and next year the Somerset African Caribbean Network are committed to looking at the legacy of Windrush. There are stories that need to be told.
“Today we’re talking about the importance of cricket in Somerset, but cricket for African Caribbean people, particularly within the Windrush generation, is very important. Seeing the West Indies winning matches in England would have created a tremendous sense of pride. Cricket was important and provided an important lift in discriminatory and oppressive times. It showed those people that they could shine.”
The Somerset African Caribbean Network is a community and campaigning network for:
- People of African Caribbean origin
- The parents/carers of young people and children of African Caribbean origin
- The spouses/partners of Network members
They aim to:
- Connect people from all generations of the African Caribbean community living in Somerset
- Share experiences of living, studying and working in the area
- Offer support and information to anyone of African Caribbean heritage new to the area
- Celebrate, share and promote our history, culture and heritage via community events and activities
- Campaign on issues such as criminal justice, education, economic, housing, health and social care reform to ensure the best outcomes for our community
- Increase understanding and eliminate all forms of prejudice, racism and discrimination
Find out more
Visit the Somerset African Caribbean Network website here.
Black History Month – The Kia Oval celebrates African Caribbean Heritage.
Contact the Foundation