Tag Archives: Old Trafford

Is it so tough at the top?

One of Third Man’s abiding cricketing memories is of David Shepherd, not standing on one leg in umpire’s panama and coat, but with both legs rather unsteadily searching for balance on a five star hotel’s plush carpets, his face as red as the Devonian soil from which he grew, holding a champagne bottle in each oversized hand, pronouncing to anyone one who was willing (and to the many more who were unwilling) to listen that, “It’s tough at the top”.

‘Shep’ at that moment had been ‘at the top’ for precisely four hours.  The scene was Gloucester’s Nat West Final celebrations in 1973, a few hundred yards from the scene of their triumph on a flat Lord’s deck that had drawn the sting from the Sussex attack. 

Cinderella had indeed gone to the ball.  On a nearby sofa sat three cricketing legends.  Between Garfield, St Aubren, Sobers and Frederick, Seewards, Trueman slouched the twenty year old James Clive Foat .  The three were swapping stories from their extraordinary cricketing careers, as mates do at such moments.

TM was recently twice reminded of this vision of impermanence: first, when visiting Old Trafford. The Squire had been invited to inspect the latest phase of the redevelopment scheme that to His satisfaction is placing giant children’s coloured building blocks around the boundary edge. “Quite visible from outer space, Cumbes assures me.”

Inside the Lancashire CCC Indoor School young Peter Moores has stuck up various mission statements and motivational homilies from the likes of General Patton and other celebrated management gurus. (No wonder Kevin, Power-from-within, Pietersen and Moores did not quite see eye to eye.) 

“What is that all about TM? In our days only amateurs bothered to read and there are no amateurs today,” volunteered the Squire.

One vinyl-coated missive read: “Champions do not become champions when they win the event, but in the hours, weeks, months and years they spend preparing for it.  The victorious performance itself is merely the demonstration of their championship character.”

So once wrote T. Alan Armstrong,

“Well he got that one ar*e about face didn’t he – like his parents with his names.”

The Squire was referring to the fact that the victorious performance is merely the prelude to events in which the status as champions is put to the test.

World Champions, England, have lost four Test matches on the bounce.  In each of which their batting has failed the True Champion’s Test,

“TM, as that keen exponent of the 2nd Law of Thermo Dynamics, the Dowager Duchess herself was fond of reminding us, ‘A plastic coat does not permanence make’.”

“Perhaps Your Grace should send Mr Flower your celebrated essay, ‘On Shot Selection’?”

“Have it coated in vinyl immediately and require Hague to dispatch it in the next bag to our Man in the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka.”

In a world where we are forced to conform to society, it is necessary to have personal chaos – T Alan Armstrong.

“Bring it on.”

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Morning Mist Greets Bangladeshis

Under cover of a thick morning mist and to the eventual consternation of the security team, Third Man used the secret tunnel entrance into Old Trafford today to welcome the visiting Bangladesh team.

The Big Red One gazes down on the Bangladeshi visitors

There they were  huddling against the cold damp air that was so sweet for cotton manufacturing and little else.  A crane stands by to whisk them back to the dressing room balcony.

Eventually it was decided to run off any morning stiffness in case the sun should shine later in the day.

It could be camera shake, but it is in fact mist that is obscuring the view.

Did the sun shine later?

Did Third Man find another way into the ground dressed perhaps as a crane driver?

Watch for UPDATES …

UPDATE:

The sun broke through towards midday.  Bangladesh spent a half hour playing their shot a ball cricket in the nets, making way for England to have a couple of hours of diligent practice there in the afternoon.  

Prior danced down the track to this 16 year old Lancastrian off-spinner who later knocked back Morgan’s middle pole.

Prior warning for Bangladesh?

England openers Cook and Strauss batted side by side towards the end of the net session.

Cooking on Gas, Strauss on Stress

 The high visibility jacket and hard hat worked wonders for Third Man.  Tomorrow is another day.

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The Corporal Deiderski Stand?

At Old Trafford yesterday evening, The Big Red One was glowing in the reflected light of the setting sun.  Third Man took the photograph below to show progress on its construction.  

The Big Red One - 14th April 2010. Always on the look for innovations, the authorities at Old Trafford were the first to use a rope to mark the boundary.

It does tend to dwarf the 1894 Pavilion which in its time provided some of the very best facilities for players, with no less than three baths in the Amateurs’ dressing room.

1894 meets Twenty10 - during the First World War the Pavilion was used as a military hospital. In the Second World War a sentry stationed by the main gate was killed by bombing - the only major cricket ground where a soldier has has been killed on active duty.

There are plans to raise the height of the Pavilion and to build another Big Red One on the other side.

The Twenty20 Match Day Experience

Third Man has learnt from I.A.R Peebles (The Watney Book of Test Match Grounds) that the décor of Old Trafford has traditionally been colourful.

On Capture, Corporal Deiderski of Rommel’s Africa Corp, found himself by a circuitous route in a prisoner of war camp in Cheshire.  When the war was over he stayed there and, after marrying a local ‘lass’, moved to Manchester to practice his trade as a painter and decorator.

As Peebles tells it, “His exceptional talents caught the eye of that enterprising Secretary, Geoffrey Howard, and he set to work to enliven the sober colour scheme of Old Trafford.  The result was most cheerful and stimulating, with benches bursting out in all manner of brilliant hues and notices, directing the way to mundane destinations, beautifully scribed on miniature signposts.”

Is it too much to hope that the authorities might consider naming this most cheerful and stimulating addition to their famous ground, The Corporal Deiderski Stand?

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