Sale of signed Dad's Army memorabilia

IT is a classic Hodges versus Captain Mainwaring battle in vintage Dad's Army style.

IT is a classic Hodges versus Captain Mainwaring battle in vintage Dad's Army style.

This time Hodges has a secret weapon - or so he thinks.

In one of the few episodes of the popular television comedy to feature a guest appearance, England and Yorkshire fast bowler Freddie Trueman is brought on as a stringer for the warden's cricket team.

Fiery Fred, one of England's all time greats and the first man to take 300 test wickets, is just the ticket, reckons ever-cantankerous warden Hodges, to help them beat Mainwaring's Home Guard team.

But the cunning plan all goes wrong, of course.

Trueman gets a shoulder injury bowling out Mainwaring and the unlikely Godfrey scores a six to secure the win for the Home Guard.

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The episode was filmed on the battlefield training ground near Thetford and aired 40 years ago.

And now the extra who, in character, replaced Trueman as bowler has donated a Thetford Town Cricket Club headed letter signed by all the Dad's Army cast to be auctioned.

It, along with a raft of other sporting and celebrity goodies, will help raise money to replace Thetford Town's clubhouse which was condemned in 2004 and is due to be demolished.

Andy Luckhurst, ex-president and twice team captain at the Thetford club, was the lucky player to follow in Fiery Fred's footsteps on screen.

And though it was not an actual cricket match, he remembers, Trueman was on top form.

“Showing what a great bowler he was, Fred asked for a single stump to be placed 22 yards out of the camera shot so he would have something to aim at,” said Mr Luckhurst, 65, who lives in Thetford with his wife Velda.

“Marking out a very long run, about double his usual length, he proceeded to run in the first time at full pace without a practice and knocked it straight out of the ground - this on an uncut pitch.”

Not quite the same could be said for the other actors.

“The actors didn't really understand the rules of the game,” said Mr Luckhurst who saw Thetford town go from a small side to wind the Carter Cup in 1975.

“This was even funnier as the vicar and the verger, who were the umpires, didn't have a clue.”

One scene, with Corporal Jones due to catch and stump the batsman, took 24 takes and possibly resulted in his breaking a finger when he finally succeeded, said Mr Luckhurst, one of five cricketers asked to help with filming.

Of the other four, three are still alive - Mr Luckhurst, Barry Rumsey, who lives in Norwich, and Charles Sloane who lives in Doncaster.

Now it is hoped the letter the cast signed, thanks to Ian Lavender, will make the club some cash again when it is auctioned alongside a raft of other celebrity and sporting goodies.

A preview of the lots is being held tonight from 6.30pm until 7.45pm at the cricket club in Mundford Road, Thetford.

The auction is on Sunday, May 31, viewing from 11am, sale at 1pm, at the British Trust for Ornithology office off Nunns Bridge Road in Thetford.

Interested bidders can go on the club website to place advanced bids and view lots:

For a paper version of the catalogue contact Darren Newey on 07515 379273 or call 01842 764216.