When I wrote my last blog I was struggling badly with a heavy cold – the effects seem to hit you harder as you get older! So much so that I was unable to go to Cleethorpes that day for the ‘Evening with Allan Lamb’ – one of my great cricketing heroes. I have been a Northants follower since my schooldays, and Lamby has been the county’s outstanding player over that time. 18 seasons, seven as captain, in addition to over 200 games for England – an aggressive batsman who was at his best against fast bowling. It all came about only because Derbyshire would not give him a contract, preferring instead Peter Kirsten. So Lamby joined Northants as a second overseas player in 1978, and was something of a surprise choice to succeed Geoff Cook as captain in 1989, almost leading them to the County Championship in his final season, 1995. But they were pipped by Warwickshire, whom they had beaten in an attritional ‘see-saw’ game at Edgbaston. Wisden referred to Lamb’s captaincy as, ‘a blend of confidence, arrogance, enterprise and sheer willpower’ – whatever, it was never dull with him around! 
I was sufficiently recovered to attend the AGM the following week – a very good meeting with plenty of constructive contributions from all around the room. I have already done a short report on the meeting so I will not go into it all again now. I would like to record my thanks to Chris Froggett and Wakefield Thornes for hosting us. If any club would like to host either the Pre-Season Meeting next year, or the AGM, please let me know! 
 
I had made the decision just before the meeting that I was fit enough to pay my first visit to the Steel City Beer Festival the following day. Richard and I caught the train across to Sheffield, lunched at Bill’s in the city centre, and took the tram out to the Kelham Island Museum for a couple of hours. It is a very interesting venue, that warrants further exploration, and the trip was made even more worthwhile by a couple of pints of Kelham Island Easy Rider – one of my favourite bottled beers but the first time I’d drunk it on draught. It did not disappoint! 
 
The following week I spent a lot of time working on the Motley Almanac – our review of the 2019 season and the League statistical records summary. It is now almost complete, but we have an issue around obtaining the summaries of the captains and umpires report covering fair play and ground markings. These are awaited from Who’s the Umpire, and affect three of our awards. David Ward has been trying to assist us and advises that we should get the figures we need this week. 
 
On the Monday night I had to go to Rothwell for a meeting between the Pontefract League and one of their clubs, with whom there have been some issues. I was asked by Andrew Watson of YCB to go along to lend support, which I did. Paul Kemp, the P&DCL chairman, is a good man, and it was a pleasure to help him. We had a constructive meeting, and I had some complementary feedback from the club involved too. 
 
Last weekend we had one of our ‘pork pie club’ meetings in the Corner House in Beverley. The eight of us take turns to buy the pies, and this time my friend Steve Dunn did the honours. The pies came from Mounfield Butchers in the little village of Bubwith, near Selby, and were of a very high quality. Pork pies can be extremely variable, and based on this sample, I would certainly recommend these. 
 
On Monday, Richard and I went to Leeds to see a couple of former work colleagues. One of them is now sadly no longer in the best of health. He was a good club cricketer when I first met him, and he remained a committed ‘gym-goer’ until very recently - but sadly anno domini takes its toll on us all. Our usual venue is closed for refurbishment, but we were well looked-after in the nearby Midnight Bell in Water Lane. 
 
One issue that has occupied my attention over the last few days has been that of our clubs' second XIs. At the AGM, we debated and voted on a proposal requested by SYSCL that if a second XI, who could not be promoted, occupied one of the promotion spots in the SYSCL Championship at the end of the season, then the third team could be promoted in their place, but only if they were within nine points (one win) of second place. SYSCL were concerned that second XIs could block promotion for other clubs. At the AGM, our clubs decided unanimously to reject the proposal, on the grounds that if a club was not good enough to finish above one of our club’s second XIs, then they were not good enough for the Premier League. 
 
As a result, SYSCL then decided to bar second XIs from their Championship, in order to prevent this ‘promotion blocking’. It should be remembered that until 2016 this had been the situation anyway, and there were, on the SYSCL committee, those who were always opposed to having second XIs in the Championship. Nonetheless, their decision has provoked much reaction from our clubs, who do not believe that it is in the interests of raising standards, and feel that clubs should have been consulted about it. A number have asked SYSCL to reconsider. 
 
I am mindful that SYSCL are entitled to run their league as they see fit – I would not welcome interference in the way we run ours – and my relationships with their senior officials are better than ever, so I do not want to jeopardise them. However, to support our clubs, I have spoken to David Ward three times over the last 48 hours, and am now hopeful that there will be an opportunity for all the clubs concerned to get round the table to thrash out the issue with officials of both leagues. David has to talk to his Management Committee first, but I have said that YSPL are keen to be involved. 
 
Tomorrow, I will be at the Abbeydale Sports Club Centenary Celebration Lunch; then on Saturday, I shall be boarding the train again for a few pints in Doncaster with Duncan Jones. Next week, of course is our dinner; 7pm on Friday at the Shaw Lane Sports Club in Barnsley, with our guest speaker, Robert Croft, and our very own Alex Fletcher as MC. If you have not yet got your name down for the evening, please contact our secretary, Steve Ward, using the contact us facility below. I hope to see as many of you as possible then! 
 
Till next time, 
 
Roger 
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