It was an overcast morning as Denis and I sat on platform number 8 waiting for our train to Headingly. You see, Yorkshire we’re hosting Lancashire in the English county championship and I was off to watch day one. Oh, this is cricket that I am talking about for the uninitiated out there. There were some good players on show too!
Chivnerine Chanderpaul, Peter Hanscomb, Rafiq Mamood, Gary Ballance, Ryan Sidebottom and Tim Bresnan. The star of day one however, would turn out to be a young fast bowler for Yorkshire by the name of Ben Coad who took 6/25 off 11.4 overs. He was sharp, moved the ball around, consistently beat the bat and must be now in consideration for England’s Ashes tour to Australia later this year? It’s just his seventh county match and he has already taken nigh on 40 wickets. His pace would be well suited to the fast and bouncy Australian pitches.
Entry was £16 but for another fiver on top, I was able to upgrade to the members area with Denis and his dear friend, Stuart. It made for a most lovely day listening to some wonderful cricketing stories. And with a rain delay at the start of play, I spent a good couple of hours talking to some crickey tragics who had seen Garfield Sobers, Jeff Thompson, Doug Walters, Viv Richards, Barry Richards along with a host of other cricketing greats ply their trade over the years. Some truly remarkable tales were delivered my way. I was in heaven!
For lunch, and with Lancashire on the ropes, we headed inside the members pavilion for a hearty lunch and watched a portion of Australia’s one day match against New Zealand on the television. It also gave me a chance to admire some of the memorabilia which adorned the walls and cabinets of the members area. Geoff Boycott, one of England’s greats had his share of memories scattered throughout.
Following our lunch, we made our way back out to watch the evening session which saw the home side bowl the visitors out for a poultry 141. By stumps the Yorkshiremen had raced to a commanding position sitting just 30 runs behind with 8 wickets in hand. It was going to be tough for their rivals to fight their way back into the match! The funny thing was, my day was not over by a long shot.
Leeds were playing Leigh in the British Super League next door and when I mean next door, I literally mean, next door. So much so that I could walk behind one stand at the cricket and find myself in the terraces of the rugby league ground. It was fabulous! What’s more, I could have just walked in for free but my conscience got the better of me and I bought myself a ticket on the terrace anyway. I’m most certain many people from the cricket stayed on and got free entry to the rugby league anyway. After all, there was no ticket checks.
Leeds probably should have been more convincing though bombing three certain tries and missing no less than 5 kicks at goal meant they hung on for a not so clinical 22-14 victory. It was great being in a traditional English ground too. You were only a few yards from the sideline and players. So much so that you could feel the big hits. Leeds also share the ground with a rugby union team and it was nice to not be in a “modern” stadium lacking soul and atmosphere.
Burley Park train station is only a brisk 5 minute walk away from the ground and before long, I was on the train to Huddersfield via Leeds in quick time. The end of a long but most enjoyable day out.