"This week local historian John W Brown tracks down a long forgotten Streatham cricket club with the help of an old Victorian photograph from the other side of the world."
So, it is a good guess that the two who look similar are the two brothers - but it would be great, both for the Cooper family and Streatham Local History, if someone could clearly identify the players in the photo.
It is a well known fact that in the spring a young man's fancy turns to cricket. The sound of leather on willow has echoed across Streatham for over 260 years.
The earliest reference found of the game refers to a match played on the White Lion fields at Streatham' on Friday, July 9, 1736. This venue was probably near the White Lion public house.
The Streatham Cricket Club was established on May 5, 1806, making it one of the oldest clubs in the country. Membership was originally limited to 40 players who each paid an annual subscription of five guineas (£5.25). This ensured the group would be limited to the gentry who could afford the fee.
However, those poorer members of the parish were still able to enjoy the game with a number of local teams being formed by the less affluent residents of the area. One such team comprised the coachmen and gardeners who worked at some of the larger houses in Streatham.
A photograph of this team, taken in 1907, survives in the archives of Christ Church School at Streatham Hill.
Another remarkable old photograph of a Streatham team in the 1890s was recently discovered by Ted Cooper of Lower Hutt in New Zealand. This came to light while he was researching his family history. Ted's grandfather, William Bray Cooper, was born near the bridge at Lower Streatham on June 6, 1864. Old records show the family was then residing in a small cottage not far from hermitage Bridge, in south Streatham.
The Coopers subsequently moved to Wellfield Road, and it was from here in 1885 William left to join the Army. He returned home seven years later, first living at 70 Colmer Road, not far from his birthplace, and later at 30 Ferrers Road.
William, and his brother Herbert, were both keen cricketers, and it is likely they are featured in the photograph discovered by Ted. Sadly the names of the players are not recorded on the picture.
To help identify the team, Ted contacted the Local History Group of the Streatham Society.
The interwoven initials SA on the cap badges of the players provided a vital clue in the hunt for information. Preliminary research suggested this may be the Streatham Albion Cricket Club. This team was established in 1880 by harry Hazell, a local coal merchant who later became a well-known councillor. However, no reference could be found of any player in the side called William or Herbert Cooper.
Just when all seemed lost, an account of a cricket match featuring teams called Streatham Athletic and Comet was discovered. The game took place in September 1894 at the Hyde Farm sports ground in Balham. Listed among the players was a W Cooper who took two of Comet's wickets, and was bowled out for five runs. Also detailed was a H Cooper who made three runs. Both players were top scorers for their team, who were beaten by Comet by 78 runs.
Although the identity of the players featured in Ted's photograph remains a mystery there appears a strong family likeness between the two men seated on the right.
One holds a bat suggesting this was his prowess; the other has the steady stare and bearing of a military man. Could these be the brothers William and Herbert Cooper?