Cricket heaven is in Sussex
I have never got over losing my autograph book. In pride of place were the signatures of all the 1967 Rest of the World XI with some of the greatest cricketers of all time, including Gary Sobers and Graeme Pollock. They were playing Sussex at the County Ground in Hove, arguably the most gentle place on planet Earth with its velvety grass like a bed, the reassuring murmur of its modest crowd, a smattering of applause, dozy deckchairs, even the burr of a Sussex accent – you might find it here. Time passing.
It’s 150 years since Sussex County Cricket Club started playing at Eaton Road in Hove. Field of Dreams by Patrick Ferriday and James Mettyear is a new book out that tells the story of this quintessentially mellow Sussex mecca. The history is covered with an easy touch, and is complemented by a wide range of vignettes based on interviews with people who have been coming to Eaton Road for as long as they can remember. And in their stories and their lives they capture some of what it is to be ‘Sussexy’ in a nutshell.
For myself I’ll never know which was the more enjoyable and important. Was it savouring every moment watching the moody fast bowler John Snow, gliding up the slope to lay waste to the opposition? Or was it the lunch and tea breaks when we’d spring over the boundary rope onto the hallowed turf to enact great cricket moments of our own with bat and tennis ball. The stuff of dreams… and sandwiches.
Tatiana: a Lewes legend
Who gets to see a goalkeeper score a goal? A record-breaking 2,300 crowd at the Dripping Pan got to celebrate Lewes FC bring an end to league winners Liverpool’s 20-match unbeaten streak, courtesy of a remarkable 70-yard winning goal by Lewes keeper Tatiana Saunders.
It was as if the gods were smiling because not only was she awarded the player of the match, but Saunders also deserved recognition for her understated contribution all season. Needless to say, I didn’t actually witness the goal myself, as I was queuing for a pint of Numb Angel in the Rook Inn as the roar went up from the Lewes faithful. Ho hum.
A tale of two Borises
For ‘British Boris’ everything is an accident, an oversight, a misjudgement, a simple mistake, an apology. For ‘German Boris’ it’s jail. Do not pass GO. For shoplifters, fine-dodgers, junkies, drug dealers, the mentally ill, protesters etc, justice seems to come relatively swiftly.
But British Boris reminds us that with anything to do with the ‘Establishment’ it’s the long grass – the enquiry, the report, the investigation, the review. Roughly 125 years in total for Bloody Sunday, Stephen Lawrence, Hillsborough, the Birmingham Six, the sub post managers, and Grenfell, to name but a few. And now from a similar playbook, Covid, Partygate, Sue Gray and even the admiration of tractors.
Missing a true rock god
In contrast, we turn to the acme of anti-establishment. Watching Classic Albums (Sky Arts) on the making of Ace of Spades by Motörhead reminded me of what a loss they are, especially Ian Kilminster Esq, better known as Lemmy. Last time I saw them live I was already too old not to have known better and spent most of the gig flinching from the pain in my ears.
Motörhead have been measured at 130 decibels, exceeding the so-called “Threshold of Pain” which is 120 decibels. But it was never about the pain, it was a pilgrimage. To pay respect to a true rock god – utterly unreconstructed and uncompromising, a man scornful of analysis or levity, all of which smelt suspiciously of the Establishment.
This is the man who sang “…gambling’s for fools/But that’s the way I like it baby/ I don’t wanna live for ever/ And don’t forget the joker!”, the nuanced Love me like a reptile and the prescient Killed by death. So I guess he saw it coming down the track.