Throwback Thursday: Sammy Woods

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When SMJ (Sammy) Woods died in 1931 such was the affection that Somerset held their adopted son in, that they lined the pavements on both sides as his funeral cortege made it’s final journey.

Somerset loved Sammy Woods like no other before him and although he was born in Sydney, Australia in 1868 the locals quickly took this larger than life character to their hearts.

He first came to England in 1883 to complete his education but ended up making the West Country his home and remained here until his dying day.

He first played for Somerset in 1886, before the County gained first class status and took a wicket with his maiden delivery. Two years later he played three games for the Australian touring side in England.

Woods went to Cambridge University in 1887 and for the next four years he dominated the Light Blues attack, taking 38 wickets in the Varsity Matches he appeared in with a best of seven for 60 in 1891.

He was a member of the Somerset side that played in 1891, the opening season as a first class county and helped his new team to beat the mighty Surrey at Taunton.  From then until 1910 Sammy Woods was a member of the side, captaining them 1894 and 1906.  He led Somerset to many famous victories including those over the virtually unbeatable Yorkshire at Headingley at the start of the 20th century, that are talked about to this day.

Sammy Woods was a fiery bowler, especially in his younger days and once took all 10 wickets for Cambridge University in a first class match.

He was also a forceful batsman and in 299 first class matches for Somerset he scored 12,637 runs at 25.07, which included 18 centuries.  He scored 1000 runs in a season for Somerset on four occasions and had a best of 215 against Sussex in 1895.  He also took 556 wickets for the County at an average of 24.05 and had a best of eight for 51.

Woods was an all round sportsman and in addition to playing Test cricket for both England and Australia, he played rugby for Blackheath and the Barbarians as well as captaining the England XV.  He also played hockey and football for Somerset.

He lived life to the full and is still talked about with great affection by Somerset supporters.