Chairman's blog - 27 September
Posted on 27th September 2019 at 20:16
Last weekend brought to an end the 2019 playing season. It was an early start to be at Headingley for the Sheriff Hutton Bridge v Woodlands White Rose play-off final. Our end-of-season finale was blessed with glorious sunshine and a great game of cricket. It was gratifying to hear talk that players on both sides had been referring to the game on social media as ‘the game of our lives’ – I say ‘to hear talk’ because as regular readers will know, social media to me is a dark place that I never venture into!
Man-of-the-match Eddie Barnes in action
Last image of the summer - 'savouring the moment'
Unfortunately, I was on my own, because Kirsty’s sister and family had come over to Hull to visit, so Kirsty missed out. That meant that in addition to helping Alan Birkinshaw with any jobs that needed doing and selling programmes, I also did a bit of photography. I don’t mind taking photographs, although editing them afterwards is really more my forte, but I find the job very difficult at Headingley. Although we have a decent zoom lens, the sheer size of the playing area makes it difficult to zoom in on the target – so a lot of my efforts were useless!
In addition to Kirsty’s absence, it was very strange to come to the play-off final and not see our old friends from Wakefield Thornes, In a perverse way, that underlined to me how significant for our league their three successive finals have been. As Kirsty pointed out to me, Thornes have now won a major trophy in each of the first four years of our League’s existence – a magnificent achievement. But it is good for these honours to be shared around, and both of Saturday’s contestants present brought plentiful, and vocal, support with them.
Whilst compiling the programme I had been struck by the strength of the two squads – SHB with their talented skipper Adam Fisher and YCCC squad players Eddie Barnes and Karl Carver; Woodlands with the brilliant overseas batsman Bad Schmulian, prolific run-scorer Tim Jackson and the wily campaigner Chris Brice; and others too numerous to mention. I found it difficult to separate the sides. But in my role as programme salesman – for which I am totally unsuited because, firstly, I could never ‘sell’ anything to anyone, and, second, because I keep stopping to talk to people – I got the opinions of people in the two different camps. York-based umpire Jonathan Corcoran told me that he could see only one winner; whilst Bradford League secretary Chis Leathley told me it all depended on Schmulian – if SHB got him early, they had a chance, but if not, Woodlands would win.
Barnes and Fisher batted really well to give SHB a really strong base before Brice turned the tide, and despite Carver’s cameo in the later stages, SHB’s 212-6 looked forty short of what they looked set for at halfway. But three early wickets, including the dangerous Jackson, followed by the departure of Schmulian for 19, turned the tide very much in SHB’s favour – only for the hard-hitting Liam Collins to bring Woodlands right back into the game. Woodlands even looked the more likely winners with 19 needed off three overs, but then Dave Henstock dismissed Collins for 85 off the first ball of the 48th over. With three needed off the final ball, Kez Ahmed hit Henstock straight into the hands of Tommy Hudson at deep point. As a spectator remarked to me, a yard either side of him and it was four – fine margins! A great game, brilliant weather, and a good crowd – a very fitting finale to the league season.
One of the highlights of these finals is the catering. Chris West engages the services of a lady called Sue Mulholland, who does some catering for the NY&SD League (lucky people – her teas quite legendary!). Alan Birkinshaw and I waited until last before helping ourselves (no danger of any shortage of food even after some sixty or seventy people had been fed) and I had a word with Sue whilst we were waiting, complimenting her on the usual magnificent spread. I thought it was rather unfair therefore, as I turned to leave with my plate amply filled, when Sue remarked, “I see you are on a diet, Roger,” – to the huge delight of my fellow Abu Dhabi veteran, Mark Heald!
One of the lovely things about these finals is having the opportunity to chat in a relaxed atmosphere with people that I don’t see that often. Paul Kemp of the Pontefract & District League made the point to me that so often he goes to game on Saturdays, only to be harangued about one issue or another, and he said it was lovely to be able to watch a game in a relaxed atmosphere. It made me realise how lucky I am when I potter round our grounds on Saturday afternoons!
After the presentations and helping Alan to tidy up in the hospitality suite, I made my way back home. I lived in North Leeds for the first 18 years of my life, so I took a rather rambling, but nostaligic, route back through Headingley, Lawnswood and Bramhope, before cutting across through Boston Spa and Tadcaster towards the A1079 and Hull. It was just after eight when I got home, and notwithstanding Sue’s catering, I was ready for some of the leftover lasagne from the day’s visitation!
On Sunday, we had intended to travel to Derby for the national t20 finals, but the weather forecast was so dreadful that we decided not to. After a long day on Saturday, I had little appetite for a 180 plus mile round trip with the prospect of not much cricket. As it happened, and much to the surprise of organiser Ally Jarvis, only 16 overs play were lost during the day – all from the Sheffield Collegiate game against Toft CC, that was reduced to 12 overs a side.
It was another game that went to the last ball, with Toft also needing three to win. This time the ball evaded the field and went for four. Collegiate were beaten but far from disgraced. It is a great achievement to reach the last four of a national competition, and, as Steve Ward said, they were a credit to themselves and our league. Nick Gaywood later told me that it was a very tight game that could have gone either way, but he felt that Collegiate just lost their way in the latter stages of their innings, and were a dozen or so runs short. I look at the teams in our league that I think could step up to win the major honours, and I think that Collegiate are at the forefront – maybe next season ….
It is becoming a tradition that Kirsty and I take ourselves away after the end of the season for a break. Last year we were in the Peak District, and this time we went to Castleton on the North Yorkshire Moors. We set off on Monday afternoon and spent our first night at the Loftsome Bridge coaching inn that we have frequented for many years now. It is now under new ownership, but the food was better than ever, and the new owner, Nigel played for Adel in the Airedale & Wharfedale League – the Adel ground is a couple of hundred yards from my old primary school.
The weather on Tuesday was dreadful, so after a magnificent ‘full English’, we stopped off at the designer outlet near York. After my foot trouble that erupted twelve months ago, buying shoes is very difficult for me, but I found a very suitable pair that are very comfortable, wore them to leave the shop and have had them on most of the time since. Kirsty bought a new rain-jacket that has surprisingly not yet been tested!
After getting settled in a lovely cottage at Castleton we ventured out onto the moors again to one of the highest and most remote inns in England, the Lion Inn at Blakey Ridge, and really enjoyed their game sausages – I have eaten some fine sausages over the years, but these were right up with the best. The pint of Theakston’s Avalanche was not at all bad either!
I had a list of cricket jobs to do – the most important around our AGM in a couple of weeks – and I also the end-of-season stats to do for Rovers. However, my early morning work was severely hampered by the very poor internet up there. I complain about the internet at home, but the experience there taught me to appreciate when I am well off! Whatever did we do twenty years ago ……
On Wednesday, we caught the train from the village into Whitby, and had a lovely day pottering around. We went to Trenchers fish & chip restaurant for lunch. The restaurant itself is very well appointed and organised, although I’d term the fish and chips as ‘very good’ rather than ‘excellent’. We also found a couple of brilliant coffee houses and enjoyed looking round some very interesting little shops. We were both struck by how busy Whitby was, even in the last week of September!
Yesterday we spent the day on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway. It was fantastic to ride in a pre-war wooden carriage with seats more comfortable than those of today, and I have never lost my childhood fascination for steam engines. After that we went on recommendation to Estbek House, at Sandsend, just north of Whitby. Approaching from the north, with the sun going down, there was a fantastic view of Whitby as we dropped down the hill from Lythe. It is a fish restaurant primarily, and we had squid to start and halibut for the main – amazing! We shall return.
We returned home today via Scarborough, where we had a little brunch before embarking on an hour’s circular walk from the station round via South Bay, the headland and North Bay before returning past the cricket ground to Dean Street car park.
Tomorrow will be more like our usual Saturday close season pattern – a coffee and a walk round Beverley, then a relaxing afternoon and curry-making, followed by a bottle of wine and a DVD in the evening.
Till next time,
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