Matt B writes:
I was up in Wolverhampton visiting my Dad. By late afternoon the relentless excitability of my seven year-old Chinese step-sister, the listlessness caused by a new lurgy and the lure of a still sweltering sunny day drove to me escape the house for a little bit of liberty and peace of mind. My destination? A bit of willow on leather healing.
First I had to cross Tettenhall common which was pockmarked by small gangs of local teenage hoodlums congregating in alcoholic communion. But after making it through a solid-looking line of trees, I found myself suddenly at the fine ground of Wolverhampton CC.
The perimeter fencing included the usual odd advertisements for some local insurance company with cricket ball sized holes punched through them. Behind the fencing, in a particularly pleasant arc of the ground, three cars were pulled up with exceedingly elderly couples sitting in the front seats, silently taking in the day’s play – presumably doing what they’ve done for the last 100 years. In fact one of the cars consisted of three women – two in their eighties sitting on deck chairs beside the car and another inside who was at least 130.
After making sure I didn’t move behind the bowler’s arm, I continued towards the clubhouse. Turns out the opposition were Leamington CC, who I’m sure used to be in the lower Warwickshire League along with my former team Moseley Ashfield CC. Arriviste bastards.
I wanted a nosy in the clubhouse and after gently hurdling the 50cm high white fencing that was no doubt there to make the spectators in front of the pavilion feel important, I peered inside. I was to learn that the groundsman had sold his house to pay for the new clubhouse, which was to include, on the top floor, accommodation purpose-built for him. Whether he was forced into this money-saving scheme or actually wanted his own tower, I cannot say.
Remembering that a King Cricket disciple had claimed that TVs in pavilions show every sport other than cricket, I noted that a play-off between northern heavyweights Darlington and Rochdale was temptingly flickering in the corner.
A perusal of the walls revealed a 1908 combined team photo featuring the club captain’s Select XI versus a WG Grace Select XI. Totally dominating the picture was an absolutely massive man with an enormous, wild-looking face and huge, black beard. The scorecard said he didn’t get much in either innings and I wondered if the people of Wolverhampton had been subjected to one of his famed bellicose rants.
On skipping over the little fencing on the other side, I noticed a sign saying ‘This enclosure is for club members only’. I didn’t care – I was off home for tea.