My cricketing heroes – Derek Randall, Richard Hadlee, Garfield Sobers & Harold Larwood

Coming from the Nottinghamshire coalfield and from the very same district (Kirkby-In-Ashfield) as Harold Larwood (who was born in nearby Nuncargate in 1904) it’s probably no surprise that my sporting heroes are all cricketers; Notts cricketers unsurprisingly.

Statue of Harold Larwood in my (and his) own home town of Kirkby-In-Ashfield. Before it was moved for redevelopment.

Harold Larwood

history.trentbridge.co.uk/players/harold-larwood.html#.W4E7ubgnbIU

Derek Randall

history.trentbridge.co.uk/players/derek-randall.html#.W4E5n7gnbIU

Richard Hadlee

history.trentbridge.co.uk/players/richard-hadlee.html#.W4E6xrgnbIU

Garfield Sobers

history.trentbridge.co.uk/players/sir-garfield-sobers.html#.W4E7grgnbIU

As a young man in the 1970’s I was often found listening to Test Match Special on the radio in the middle of the night and of course back then cricket was on the regular TV, no pay to view exclusivity. The John Player Sunday League was a delight on BBC2 which my old Dad and I would regularly watch. I would add that I think cricket has been done a great disservice by becoming significantly inaccessible on free to view TV, a penny that I think has finally dropped with the cricketing powers that be.

Randall, nick names Rags and Arkle, is my number one sporting hero; this eccentric fidgeting batsman could, on his day, take on any bowling and his fielding was probably the best the world has ever seen or ever will see.

The old saying was that when a fast bowler was required all you had to do was to call down a Nottinghamshire coal pit and one would emerge – Harold Larwood was one such miner called from the pit to break Australian hearts. What a bowler – speed and accuracy. That he was blamed for the Bodyline series down under was an utter disgrace as he was doing what his captain asked him to do. However when the sh1t hit the fan the poor working class bowler carried the can and the upper class captain all but got away with it.

It was fitting that a statue of Larwood was erected in my old home town (it’s pictured above) and whilst I have not seen it since it was moved as part of a town centre redevelopment I’m sure this old Kirkby lad will have a tear in his eye next time he sees it.

Richard Hadlee was a very accurate pace bowler and the fact that pitches at Trent Bridge were made for him is testament to his recognisable ability. A Kiwi who like all my cricketing heroes played Test Cricket, in his case for New Zealand, he was a delight to watch and batsmen hated facing him.

And then there’s the quite wonderful all round cricketer Garfield Sobers, that giant of West Indies cricket who could turn his arm over as either a medium fast or spin bowler. He was also pretty good with the bat too as this video clip from the BBC proves:-

www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cricket/45357768

And I say all this whilst Nottinghamshire have just completed a very poor 2018 season indeed, surviving in the County Championship Division 1 by virtue of winning just one more match than Lancashire with whom they ended up on the same number of points. If Lancs had scored just a few more runs in their last but one innings Notts would have been relegated instead of them. Oh how we need some heroes now as the present team could easily get Notts relegated to the 2nd Division again next year, indeed many Notts supporters will sadly be almost expecting that slide in the 2019 season unless some big changes are made at Trent Bridge.

2016 – A year to forget? Well yes, but there was the odd glimmer of hope

BAD NATIONAL & GLOBAL EVENTS

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* Given the biggest self-destruct button the UK electorate has probably ever been tempted by i.e the EU referendum – they pressed it!

* Sociopath Trump wins in America, seemingly with help from Putin in the Cremlin!

* We manage to get rid of a centrist (for a Conservative that is), if hardly competent, Tory Prime Minister (Cameron) for him to be replaced by someone who looks utterly lost, is in a job probably well above her pay grade and who is riding us off into a inglorious right wing sunset!

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* Our NHS and elderly social care system has been systematically neglected and left to wither on the vine by our clueless government whilst we chuck goodness knows how much money on a replacement for the Trident nuclear missile programme that will never be used. There are guilty people in all political parties over this.

AND GOOD NATIONAL & GLOBAL THINGS?

* Well Lib Dem anti-Brexit candidate Sarah Olney winning the Richmond Park Parliamentary by-election comes to mind.

* The beating the right took in the Austrian Presidential election was a pleasant if somewhat surprising turn of events.

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* Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shining a light for tolerant, inclusive and progressive politics from over the pond in Canada. Is there anyone else in power on the global stage who can match his progressive approach to running a country?

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* The low and high of Notts and England batsman James Taylor being struck down by an almost fatal undiagnosed heart condition and then him coming through it. Yes we have lost on brilliant batsman but so glad he is still alive. And yes I am an Notts supporter.

AND LOCAL LOWS AND HIGHS?

Inside the Youth Coffee Bar after a refurb' a few years ago

Inside the Youth Coffee Bar after a refurb’ a few years ago

* LOW – We had the depressing news that Labour-run Maghull Town Council was finally killing-off the innovative Youth Coffee Bar in Maghull Town Hall which local youngsters had started 20+ years ago. And hey what a surprise (NOT) anti-social behaviour is a problem in the area of Maghull where it once operated!

St Catherine's otherwise know as Lydiate Abbey

St Catherine’s otherwise know as Lydiate Abbey

* HIGH – The ‘Friends of the Abbey’ in Lydiate gaining a Lottery grant to start the process of trying to conserve and preserve the ruins of St Catherine’s Chapel for future generations.

Former Maghull/Lydiate Borough Councillor Robbie Fenton with the petition she raised to try to save the Leighton Ave toilets a few years ago. Sadly they are all but gone now via neglect and vandalism.

Former Maghull/Lydiate Borough Councillor Robbie Fenton with the petition she raised to try to save the Leighton Ave toilets a few years ago. Sadly they are all but gone now via neglect and vandalism.

* LOW – The running down of and then appalling vandalism to Maghull’s once award winning public toilets in Leighton Avenue.

The long view of 2016 winter planting down Westway looking from the Leighton Ave junction towards the A59 Northway.

The long view of 2016 winter planting down Westway looking from the Leighton Ave junction towards the A59 Northway.

* HIGH – The continuing success of the Maghull in Bloom and Maghull Station Volunteers as they try to improve Maghull’s environment.

A Maghull Town Council leaflet from 1998 - Strangely this time round the now Labour-run Town Council did not fight the Green Belt grab.

A Maghull Town Council leaflet from 1998 – Strangely this time round the now Labour-run Town Council did not fight the Green Belt grab.

* LOW – The rubber stamping of the Sefton Local Plan which will ruin Green Belt and kill off some of the 2% highest grade of agricultural land in England. A black cloud for for environmental campaigners indeed.

Canal Bicentenary

* HIGH – The Bicentenary celebrations of the completion of the Leeds Liverpool Canal

On a personal note the start of 2016 was grim as I attended 4 funerals of people I knew in the first 4 months – former Lib Dem Councillors Joan Blackburn, David Rimmer and Kath Jones together with Lib Dem activist Susan Ashton. It finished with a further death this time of a relative in December whose funeral I could not get to because of traffic jams on the M6. But of course there were personal highs as well –

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* Being invited to play Santa for a session to help Maghull & Aughton Rotary Club and Maghull in Bloom fund raise was great fun.

Me sat in my old choir stall  at Sefton Church. I recall sitting in this very seat - if memory serves at all of course - it was over 40 years ago!

Me sat in my old choir stall at Sefton Church. I recall sitting in this very seat – if memory serves at all of course – it was over 40 years ago!

* Being invited to rejoin the choir of St Helen’s Church in Sefton Village, where I had been a choirboy in 1970, despite being an atheist was lovely. Obviously I politely declined.

Carl Cashman for Mersey Metro Mayor Launch 08 16 - Credit Charlie Green

* Helping a great young man to be selected as Lib Dem candidate for the Liverpool City Region Mayoral election to be held in May 2017. Carl Cashman is that young man. I have known him for some years now and am delighted he will be on the ballot paper.

Iain Brodie Brown - Mayor of Sefton at the Leeds Liverpool Canal Bicentenary celebrations in Maghull

Iain Brodie Brown – Mayor of Sefton at the Leeds Liverpool Canal Bicentenary celebrations in Maghull

* My old chum Iain Brodie Browne becoming Mayor of Sefton. A Liberal down to his boots and one of the most radical, capable and compassionate politicians I have ever come across.

So sadly 2016 has been a year of some very significant lows indeed. Some of those lows we will be grappling with the consequences of for maybe 10 years or more. Fortunately the odd bit of good news did filter through but surely 2017 has to be better?

Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club – It’s been a wretched season

Cricket-notts-logo

www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cricket/37313447

The BBC has the story on its web site – see link above

When your team is down you feel down and for me yesterday’s loss to Middlesex was yet another blow in a season where Notts have only won one of their 1st Division County Championship games. Do they deserve to be relegated? Certainly. But why has a team with so many talented cricketing stars played so badly? No idea.

Statue of Harold Larwood in my (and his) own home town of Kirkby-In-Ashfield. Before it was moved for redevelopment.

Statue of Harold Larwood in my (and his) own home town of Kirkby-In-Ashfield. Before it was moved for redevelopment.

That such relegation should happen to a County that has produced cricketing legends such as Larwood, Voce, Randall, Broad’s X 2, Hardstaff’s X 2, French etc. beats me. And probably the greatest cricketer of modern times, Sir Garfield Sobers, was a Notts player for years – what an 80th year birthday present the Club has given him!

There that’s off my chest now!

Southport – Lancashire V Derbyshire – A day at the cricket

It was hardy Sunny Southport yesterday morning indeed in was more like Shivering Southport! But the sun came out in the afternoon and a great day out was had despite the strong wind at Birkdale Cricket Ground.

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Lancashire's Glen Chappel training the next generation of the Red Rose.

Lancashire’s Glen Chappel training the next generation of the Red Rose.

Seeing Lancashire’s South African batsman Ashwell Prince get his double hundred was something I had not previously witnessed on a cricket ground and it was well deserved.

Derbyshire batsmen Chesney Hughes & Benjamin Slater meet in the middle to work out how to keep the Lancs bowlers out.

Derbyshire batsmen Chesney Hughes & Benjamin Slater meet in the middle to work out how to keep the Lancs bowlers out.

A lot of new faces in the Lancashire Team these days as they strive to get back into the 1st Division of the County Championship. Based on what I saw today they stand a good chance of doing it but I just hope it is not at the expense of my team Notts who seem to be doing all they can to get themselves relegated at present!

This score of 900 for Lancashire had the crowd laughing. The scorer had made a slight error it should have read 400.

This score of 900 for Lancashire had the crowd laughing. The scorer had made a slight error it should have read 400.

With Derbyshire 58 runs behind with 3 second innings wickets down the last day looks set up but unfortunately I can’t be there.

The last photo is amongst my Flickr shots at:-
www.flickr.com/photos/86659476@N07/

Lancashire V Nottinghamshire – 2 poor teams slug it out

I went to watch what turned out to be the last day of the County Championship match at Liverpool Cricket Club’s Aigburth ground yesterday and whilst it was a great finish (Notts winning by one wicket) you could not but think how poor the batting was on both sides.

The Lancs tail seemed to prove this by showing how well it was possible to bat on the pitch at the end of their second innings.

A win for Notts is welcome but they will have to re-learn the art of batting if they really are to be serious contenders for the championship this year. As for Lancs they do need to get a couple of wins under their belt otherwise Division 2 will beckon them once again.

Here are a few shots I took on what was a lovely Liverpool day:-

Liverpool Cricket Club's grand pavilion

Liverpool Cricket Club’s grand pavilion

Under the Umpire's watchful eye

Under the Umpire’s watchful eye

Flying the winner's flag

Flying the winner’s flag

A Lancs batsman under pressure

A Lancs batsman under pressure

These photos are amongst my Flickr shots at:-
www.flickr.com/photos/86659476@N07/

Notts bash Lancs as English cricket season starts

I always get a good feeling when the cricket season starts after a long winter. This year was all the better as my team Nottinghamshire won their opening Division 1 County Championship match against Lancashire.

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Notts had a poorish season last year last year in the County Championship and almost got themselves relegated to Division 2. Lancs on the other hand had a good season by winning the 2nd Division Championship and gaining promotion to Division 1.

The return match between Lancs and Notts is at Aigburth Cricket Ground in Liverpool on 13th July.