The term ‘unsung hero’ is applied, particularly in a sporting context, with great frequency.
Some recipients are, of course, more deserving than others. In the case of women’s cricket pioneer Eileen White – whose contribution perhaps flew under the radar, but stretched far and wide – the moniker could not be more apt.
White was born on 8 October 1912, and was educated at Mundella Grammar School in Nottingham.
There was an air of inevitability about her life-long involvement in cricket; her uncles, Herman and John Dexter, were both semi-professional players while a third uncle, Walter, was an umpire.
It was at school that White made her first footsteps in the sport, but it was upon leaving school that her tread became heavier.
White worked as an auditor for Boots in Nottingham, played for the company cricket team as a batter and captain and assumed the role of secretary between 1933 and 1945.
She also played a crucial hand in the foundation of the Nottinghamshire Women’s Cricket Association in 1933, and remained on the committee for three decades.
Still not content with her contributions, White founded Nottingham Casuals Cricket Club and remained as captain and secretary until an accident ended her playing career in 1954.
Whilst contributing at the grassroots level, she was also opening the batting for Nottinghamshire from 1933 to 1952 and the Midlands from 1936 to 1954, for whom she scored a career high 79 against an Australian touring side in 1951.
Such was her desire to welcome touring sides, White turned her hand to it as yet another string to her bow, acting as Chief Liaison Officer for teams visiting from overseas and being lead organiser for Test matches.
Her coach was another Nottinghamshire legend, Bill Voce.
The pair are pictured together in the scorebox during White’s stint as a scorecard printer at Trent Bridge (photograph at the top of this article). It is apt that the two appear side by side – both instrumental forces for cricket in the county, albeit with contrasting resulting fame.
White died in Nottingham on 8 December 2008, aged 96. Her archive – which includes photographs, mementos and newspaper cuttings from her time in the game – has been donated by her nieces and nephew to Trent Bridge.
Visit the Trent Bridge History Site here...