'Monkey' Hornby - the 'Boss' of Lancashire


Albert Neilson Hornby was a pillar of Lancashire cricket, as player, captain and later as administrator.

His short stature and excessive energy earned him the inseparable nickname 'Monkey', and his effervescent off-drive and enthusiastic fielding did justice to this rather odd moniker. However, he was always called 'The Boss' by his fellow cricketers.

Hornby perhaps had a role to play in the birth of The Ashes, when as captain of England he held back CT Studd too long at The Oval, till there was hardly anything that excellent batsman could do in the face of tumbling wickets.

Later, when Lord Harris, with his reservations against playing 'Birds of Passage', had stood in the way of KS Ranjitsinhji's Test appearance for England at Lord's in 1896, it had been Hornby who took it upon himself to invite the Indian genius to make his debut in the subsequent Test match at Old Trafford.

Incredibly for a small man, he also captained England in rugby, one of the two men to have led the country in both the sports.

Most famously, he was immortalised by the Francis Thompson poem At Lord's with its line O my Hornby and my Barlow long ago!

Monkey Hornby was born on Feburary 10, 1847.

Text: Arunabha Sengupta

Illustration: Maha