Earby Cricket Club is where Glen Chapple captain of Lancashire began his cricketing career.
A stream and its once rough meadow now cut, rolled and groomed for cricket; the mill, once powered by the stream, then by its steam engine but now idle, its chimney an echo of domination; its tightly packed terraced housing built at the end of the C19th to house the mill workers, these all form the backdrop against which the players and their loyal supporters still come together on Saturdays and Sundays to play against neighbouring sides in a vital expression of this small town’s civic identity.
This is community grounded in cricket, literally in this green meeting place with its social club, and metaphorically in the fierce competitive and binding spirit with which it meets its opponents on the field.
In the first innings of 1996 Nat West Final, when the Essex bowlers ran through the Lancashire batting, the Essex supporters sang and the Lancastrians kept their silence in embarrassment. But, then, this resilient spirit, forged on the ground of his home Town but centred now on his County identity, drove Glen Chapple to still the Essex celebrations with 6 wickets for 18 runs in their paltry losing total of 57.
This is why cricket devoid of a sense of place and of belonging is not one tenth the game.
* “Oh! it was a heart-stirring sight to witness the multitude forming a complete and dense circle round that noble green. Half the coulnty would be present, and all their hearts with us – Little Hambledon, pitted against all England was a proud thought for the Hampshire men.” John Nyren.