Archie and Reggie go wild at Aigburth

Published: 2020
Pages: 12
Author: Tebay, Martin
Publisher: Red Rose Books
Rating: 3.5 stars

Older readers will immediately recognise the title of this one as coming straight out of an Enid Blyton novel, on which point by adding double international Jack (Sharp), John Tommy (Tyldesley) and Sydney (Barnes) to Archie (Maclaren) and Reggie (Spooner) and you have a Lancastrian ‘Famous Five’ to rank with any other quintet to have graced the county game. Did Martin Tebay intend to create such an impression when naming this one? I rather think he did.

In which case the one surprising thing about the subject of this monograph is the weather. That a County Championship fixture in Lancashire should, as the 1903 home fixture against Gloucestershire ultimately was, be ruined by the weather is hardly newsworthy, but that what remains to this day the highest opening partnership ever recorded by a pair of Lancashire batsman was put up on a cloudy and damp day in Liverpool was unexpected – surely a cloudless sky, burning sun and lashings of lemonade were called for?

But that at least was not to be, but despite the cool conditions the sight of two of the great stylists of the ‘Golden Age’ putting up 368 at around 100 runs an hour must have been a thrilling sight, and Tebay has gone through no less than eleven contemporary accounts of the famous partnership in order to reconstruct it. The result is that all Lancashire supporters will enjoy reading about the events of 30 July 1903 even if the Red Rose, through no fault of their own, had not got over the line by the end of the third day.

Like the two previous publications in the author/publisher’s Red Rose Cricket Records series this monograph dwells on the record breaking achievement itself, although there is also a short introduction, a couple of pages on the rest of the match and an interesting selection of images.The bad news is that although this review appears within a week of publication I fear this limited edition of thirty copies may, if I have understood Tebay’s twitter feed correctly, already have sold out, but I dare say there may be the out out of series copy still available for those willing to beg*. In any event based on this one selling out so quickly it might still be worth getting in touch to place an advance order for the next in the series, already completed and due out in a few weeks time, and which will recall another famous performance at Aigburth, and this time one which ended in a glorious victory for Lancashire.

*Since completing this review I have become aware that there are a few copies on their way to sunny Melbourne, so customers of our friend Roger Page might, if they are quick off the mark, be in luck

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