Reggie SpoonerMartin Chandler |
Author: Tebay, Martin
Publisher: Red Rose Books
Rating: 3.5 stars
It is a matter of some regret that there is so little film from the ‘Golden Age’ of cricket. A few poor quality celluloid fragments of an aging WG Grace and Ranji batting in the nets, and some rather better footage of Arthur Mold bowling to ‘Monkey’ Hornby is all I can immediately recall ever seeing.
If I could choose to see just one more cricketer from that fabled time it would be Reggie Spooner, the man who captivated Neville Cardus to the extent that he described him as my idol, my hero, and whose words almost, but not quite, bring Spooner to life.
An amateur whose business commitments prevented him making more of an impression on the history of the game than he might have Spooner was a Lancastrian who still holds one county record, and certainly one that justifies an appearance in Martin Tebay’s series of monographs on Red Rose Cricket Records.
The occasion that Spooner chose for his greatest achievement was the Old Trafford Roses Match of 1910. Batting conditions cannot have been the best, as the Yorkshiremen were dismissed shortly after lunch on the first day for 103. Disappointed as the White Rose must have been with an attack that included George Hirst, Wilfred Rhodes, Major Booth, Alonzo Drake and Schofield Haigh they would not have thought the match beyond them. It was though, an unbeaten 200 from Spooner setting up an innings victory for Lancashire.
Other Lancastrians have subsequently scored double centuries in a Roses encounter, but never at Old Trafford. One highly original and entertaining feature that Tebay’s research has produced is a doggerel poem from a contemporary Lancashire publication. The closing lines were to prove prescient, observing that Spooner has put up a record that each one supposes, will stand for a very long day.
Reggie Spooner begins with an image of a posed photograph of Spooner, an introduction and the poem to which I have already made reference. A few paragraphs then dispose of Yorkshire’s disastrous first innings before Tebay brings together the contemporary accounts as he tells the story of Spooner’s famous knock. A good Lancastrian Tebay does then spend a couple of pages describing Yorkshire’s second innings 181 before concluding with a list of Lancashire’s previous double centurions and an abbreviated scorecard concentrating, naturally, on the Lancashire innings.
Red Rose Book’s latest limited edition appears in a limited edition of just thirty copies and is available from the publisher at £6.99 including UK postage.