Norman, for many years the longest serving member of the Club, was born and grew up in Brasted and later in Sevenoaks. He loved his cricket from an early age, watching Kent at Tunbridge Wells, playing at his prep school in Oxted or for Brasted when they were short. His enthusiasm was greatly encouraged by his much-loved father and also by his cousin Geoffrey Durtnell who was 10 years older and who became a prolific batsmen and successful captain for the Vine between the wars,
This early love for cricket blossomed during Norman`s teenage years whilst at St George`s School Harpenden and, during school holidays, at the Kent County nets at Tonbridge and through extra coaching in Frank Woolley`s garden in Hildenborough.
In 1928, aged 15, Norman played his first game for The Vine, turning out for the half-day or full-day side depending on whether he worked on the Saturday morning. His decision to train as a quantity surveyor put paid to any hopes of county cricket and, sadly, he had to turn down an offer from Northants just before the 2nd World War. However, in 1933, together with his great school friend, Robert Nelson, he started the Dragons (old boys of St George`s Harpenden) tour of Kent in August. The first fixture between the Dragons and Sevenoaks Vine took place in 1948 and, happily, remains today as one of the tourist`s oldest fixtures.
After the war, Norman continued – always as an opening bat – for The Vine and also represented the Civil Service against The Army, Navy and RAF. Boosted through National Service, the RAF`s Test match attack of Trueman and Loader followed by Titmus and Appleyard was a challenge that Norman faced with typical gritted teeth, much resolve and no helmet! There were a few games for the Club Cricket Conference and for Kent 2nds but Sevenoaks Vine was the club that he knew as home.
Norman captained the Vine 1st XI from 1950 – 1953, was rightly proud of his 3 successive centuries in 1948 but was best known for his head-down determination. This, coupled with an excellent technique led to his accumulation of over 20,000 runs and being one of the great hookers of the bouncer. He had a very safe pair of hands and was a prodigious spinner of his loopy leg-breaks – often useful with the large scores racked up the powerful Vine batting line-up. He would never give his wicket away as evidenced by the 1948 Dragons Tour Report of their match against Sevenoaks Vine ….”Sevenoaks scored 173-6. But for the innings of Golds (44*) playing against the home club, the Dragons (122-9) would not have finished the tour unbeaten”.
Norman was still opening the batting in 1961 when his son Bob left St George`s Harpenden and embarked on his own cricket career at the Vine. They played together in the 1st and 2nd XIs for a while – special days, as other fathers and sons will testify, though Norman ran Bob out for 0 on his son’s debut in cricket week.
Younger members and players may remember Norman for his constant support for the club and for his regular presence at AGMs and other functions. Sevenoaks Vine meant so much to him and his memorial seat on the top side of the Vine ensures that he can continue to keep an eye on the cricket.