We were so looking forward to the Roses Match at Scarborough. Tickets and accommodation booked, my first real trip away since the pandemic started, with Lofty also coming over from Guernsey in his RS Focus to watch some cricket and burn up our roads. Unfortunately, the faceless administrative bods that run Yorkshire cricket had other ideas, as you may gather from the chapter of woe that follows.
First, the game was moved from Scarborough to Headingley for ‘Covid secure’ reasons. Apparently a team of ECB health goons had already visited the Trafalgar Road ground at Scarborough and deemed it unfit to accommodate the many thousands expected for this four day county match.
Having cancelled a similar trip to Scarborough last year, Lofty and I decided to retain our hotel bookings and travel each day to Leeds on the train. Not the best plan, some have said, and after the events of the last five days I can only agree, with hindsight!
We duly arrived by the seaside on Saturday afternoon, with the Leeds game commencing on Sunday. During a trip to the ground to deliver our tickets for a refund, I learned that Scarborough seconds were playing Hornsea seconds that afternoon, so when Lofty arrived we returned to the ground for a few pints on the pavilion balcony and watched the game. Scarborough won easily, with one of their lads scoring a century in the run chase, which I guess doesn’t happen too often at that level.
We were engaged by a couple of locals, A Yorkshire lad from Knaresborough and his companion, a man involved with Irish cricket with the thickest, densest Belfast accent I have ever heard. At some points an interpreter would have been useful, and this guy kept name dropping with Lofty (who is involved in running Guernsey cricket) to see if he knew this or that official. Unfortunately, Lofty does not have much of a memory for names, as you will see later, so this Irish chap, pleasant as he was, wasted a lot of time there. These two even followed us to the Chinese restaurant later, and it got to the point where I was expecting them to be waiting for me in my bed when I returned to my digs.
Ah, yes. My digs. Despite having made telephone calls to assure the Guest House that I was still coming despite the flurry of cancellations due to the cricket being moved, they had no room for me in their main property. Instead, I was moved to a further property they owned five doors down the road, which was in course of renovation. The smell of paint pervaded all areas. I had no door key – they must be crime free in Scarborough!
There was an ensuite bathroom, but the shower doors were fitted so poorly it was almost impossible for me to squeeze in there, despite having lost quite a bit of weight recently. The ‘supplied toiletries’ consisted of an industrial size bottle of Radox bath soak.
Sleep deprivation was provided nightly by a huge flock of seagulls, who produced a cacophony of noise reminiscent of a Hitchcock movie. I almost felt like searching the mostly empty property to see if Rod Taylor and Tippi Hedren were squatting in one of the rooms with their caged lovebirds.
On the plus side, the full English breakfast was rather good.
The folly of our ‘train plan’ became apparent next morning: being a Sunday, the train service was virtually non existent. Lofty kindly offered to drive over to Leeds in the RS Focus, but even though he was driving like Billy Monger the journey still took ages. It hadn’t looked very far on the Trans Pennine Rail map! When we arrived, Lofty decided to park in the Headingley Taps car park. ” If I get a ticket, it will just go in the fucking bin with all the others” he cheerfully explained. “These people have no jurisdiction on Guernsey!”
We are greeted at Headingley by our good friend Martin, of Bury and Paekakariki, and when Yorkshire win the toss and insert Lancashire the rumour quickly circulates that the Yorkies are scared to face Jimmy Anderson in bowler friendly conditions. Actually, the conditions were not that bowler friendly to my eyes, and this was borne out by Lancashire scoring 270 + with a ton for Keaton Jennings.
The crowd was sparse, and could easily have been accommodated at Scarborough even allowing for appropriate Covid distancing. The misgivings had already started.
After stumps a mad race back to Scarborough after dropping Martin off, to watch THAT football match. As we arrived outside Loftys hotel, a huge cheer went round the whole of Scarborough seafront. “What’s that?” said Lofty? “Dunno for sure” I said, but I think England might have scored!”
Thanks to Loftys superannuated hotel for letting us watch the game in their lounge with a beer or two – every pub in Scarborough was fully booked, and there were no tables available whatsoever. Nobody needs me to remind them of the result, but little did we know things would only go further downhill from this point.
It was raining on day two, so as we knew there would not be a prompt start we decided to take the train. As mile after mile of dreary Yorkshire farmland passed by and the journey became more and more disconsolate, I began to appreciate what the German Army must have felt when marching across Russia in 1941. Our own journey was just as fruitless, as play was abandoned almost as soon as we got into the ground.
The outfield looked like a theme park for wading hippos.
Ah well. What’s required is a few beers and a good meal and as we get back to sunny Scarborough, I am greeted by my jovial host.
” Where are you eating tonight mate?”
” Well, we’ve had a crap day so we’re going for a posh seafood meal at Cafe Fish.”
” Oooh. You know the owner of that place has just died, don’t you? I wouldn’t order the fish if I were you!” he joked.
A few pints pre meal at the excellent Scholars bar and as the Sky Sports News items roll past, Lofty innocently asks me why there are so many ‘minority’ presenters on television nowadays.
“It’s an indirect biproduct of the George Floyd episode and Black Lives Matter group”, I explained.
“Who the **** is George Floyd?” Lofty asked, again quite innocently. When my incredulity had evaporated I forwarded this comment to a few people to make sure I hadn’t been hearing things. Obviously news does not circulate on Guernsey very quickly, and I imagine many of the inhabitants only noticed that the Germans had occupied the island in 1946.
We ate in the excellent Cafe Fish afterwards despite my hoteliers jokey warnings and met a couple of cricket fans from Middlesbrough called Brian and Michael who were in the same boat as ourselves and all of us agreed that the game should have been played at Scarborough. After the subject of cricket had been exhausted, we moved onto the works of LS Lowry for some strange reason, with Lofty providing some backing vocals.
Day three now, Tuesday the 13th of July, a day that will live in infamy for your writer.
First, my landlady helpfully advised me that their card machine was no longer operative, so cash would be required to settle my bill. On the drive to Leeds the hungry RS Focus needed feeding so Lofty stopped at a BP garage, which also had one of those ‘Cash Zone” cash machines. Stupidly, I attempted to withdraw £200. The machine debited my account, but didn’t actually pay out any cash. Cue many hours on the phone to my bank and by the end of all this I felt like a senile old pensioner who had been scammed. I usually avoid those machines like the plague and I wish I had this time. The garage owner was totally unhelpful so I will publish his details here so that any reader in the vicinity can avoid the same fate – BP / Londis, Seamer Road, Scarborough.
Cricket at Leeds didn’t start till 12 due to overnight rain but nevertheless we were joined by my pal Mike from Oldham, together with a surprise appearance by Gaz the Diplomat, who readily agreed that Loftys George Floyd observation was worthy of placement in his own lexicon of non-woke comments.
Play eventually starts and it is all Lancs.
“We need a wicket!” says Lofty, who you may have gathered is a Yorkshire supporter. Soon after, Brook drops Bohannon. 288-2.
” Oh Christ!” exclaims Lofty, then “I can’t be bothered with this fucking mask!” as he visits the Gents in a rather grumpy fashion. On his return, Bohannon hits another boundary.
“Yes, but you’ve had a frigging life!” observes Lofty.
A hundred partnership between Wells and Bohannon propels the score to 400. “This is getting embarrassing!” says Lofty. Well yes, but not as embarrassing as allowing yourself to be robbed of £200 by a piece of shit cash machine in a crummy roadside garage.
The defining point for the match followed soon after. Leech, the Yorkshire fielder, slipped badly on a damp patch outside the boundary rope and collided with a concrete stanchion. He was clearly in a lot of pain and we were all concerned and shouting for the physio to get on. The Lancashire physio reached the poor lad before his own, but it wasn’t long before he was stretchered off. The players were then ushered quickly off the field by Umpires Gould and Long, and an early tea was taken, although no announcement was forthcoming, leaving the small crowd in limbo.
During the inactivity, the scoreboard kept advertising that ‘The Multi Faith Prayer Room is Open All Day’ and I suspect I probably needed a shot of that before we began our return journey.
By 4pm there had still been no update and the volume of boos and slow hand clapping must have left the umpires in no doubt as to the anger and frustration building in the crowd. Eventually, the announcement that everyone dreaded came over the tannoy:
” Parts of the ground are unfit for play with water having risen to the surface during the day, play is therefore abandoned!”
Decision making and communication like this is killing the County game. Despite we have tickets, Lofty and I will not be coming over to Leeds for day four. We intend to find some alternative entertainment instead of further enduring this fiasco, all the issues of which which may well have been avoided if the original venue for this match had not been messed with – a decision by Yorkshire CCC which now looks beyond ludicrous.
Piss ups, Breweries, and Yorkshire County Cricket Club, eh?
Just when I thought the day could not get more ‘ interesting’ at around midnight I was akakened by a tremendous banging and knocking on my window from the outside.
As I was staying on the upper level, maybe this was a cause for concern but Ive nothing left to steal!
Cautiously, I approached the window and saw my landlady, in a nightie, outside on the flat roof.
Those expecting to read ‘Confessions of a Cricket Pensioner’ next are about to be sadly disappointed.
” Youve latched the front door. None of the bloody people can get in!”
Maybe it would help if you gave your guests a proper set of fucking keys love.
Needless to say, muggins here had to traipse downstairs in his boxers to open the front door, which I’m sure must have been a pretty sight for the incoming guests checking in at 12.15 am.
As you may remember we had no intention of going to Headingley on day four, come what may. When the match was arbitrarily abandoned on day four however, the texts started flooding in and I would like to quote one from a pal who is Yorkshire member, although obviously I cannot name my source:
“It was a mess waiting to happen. Our chief executive and board have ignored the drainage issue for three years. It took a serious injury to get them to address it. Even now, I doubt what they are saying. They are an arrogant bunch who don’t care about the fans.”
In an alternative universe, Lofty and I had a very pleasant afternoon drinking on the seafront in the Scarborough sun, aided and abetted by helpful young barman John, who kept us plied with alcohol. I wonder if Lofty realised he was drinking at The Lancaster!
Joking apart, an experience like this is enough to turn a person off cricket for good. Its been bad enough for me, but I feel so sorry for poor Lofty driving up all the way from the Channel Islands for this fucking horrendous Yorkshire cock-up.
I have tickets for the upcoming India Test at Headingley, but after they are spent, as I feel at the moment, hell will freeze over before I enter that accursed swamp again.Anyone familiar with the work of The Eagles will probably understand that I am hedging my bets a little here.
I truly believe that similar problems with water rising up through the pitch will not occur at the upcoming International T20 match between England and Pakistan at Leeds – or is that just me (and Martin) being cynical?
Regards, Midnight xxx