The Lancashire Cricket Team

Published: 2021
Pages: 8
Author: Tebay, Martin
Publisher: Red Rose Books
Rating: 3.5 stars

Perhaps I should have known, but I didn’t realise until this one dropped through my letterbox that Martin Tebay, in many ways a man after my own heart, numbers deltiology amongst his weaknesses. In other words he is a postcard collector, and based on this one I hope that what he describes as an occasional series bearing the title Lancashire CCC postcard monographs runs for a while.

The catalyst for the booklet is the single card that is illustrated on the cover, that of a Lancashire team group. Where, when and why are the questions that any such card asks, although the answers to those questions aren’t, with team groups, a source of intrigue all that often.

The interest in the answers in respect of Martin’s card is piqued by one of the Lancastrians featured being Morice Bird. Being a bit of a tragic I did know something about Bird, that being that he was a Surrey amateur who had toured South Africa twice in 1909/10 and 1913/14 and played in all ten Tests, but with only modest returns.

What I hadn’t realised about Bird was that, by birth, he was a Liverpudlian, and that more than that he had actually played five times for the Red Rose during the 1907 season, two summers before he made his Surrey debut. But even that knowledge didn’t enable Martin to work out what was going on with his card, and that was that.

But then came a serendipitous event. Martin was researching something completely different when he saw a scorecard that caught his eye in a 1921 edition of the Rochdale Times. What stood out was, of course, the name of MC Bird at the top of the order for a team styled Lancashire County.

On closer examination the rest of the team matched the postcard, and the answer had been found. The match in question was what amounted to a pre season encounter between the great ‘Roses’ rivals, Lancashire and Yorkshire, to celebrate the opening of a new ground in Heywood in Lancashire. Martin proceeds to tell the story of the ground’s development and then describes what happened in the match itself. Rain did not help, but the drawn encounter showcased the talents of a young man named Herbert Sutcliffe for the visitors and, for the ‘home’ side, Jimmy Tyldesley and the county’s opening bowlers, Harry Dean and ‘Lol’ Cook.

And there you have it, an interesting and nicely written story of a postcard, a stroke of luck, a cricket ground and a ‘Roses’ match. What more could a history loving Lancashire supporter want? Well just one thing actually, either the eyesight I had twenty years ago, a new pair of glasses or a slightly larger scale reproduction of the card on the front cover that doesn’t oblige to me squint at it to read the names. But that is an observation rather than a complaint and this booklet, limited to just 30 copies at £6.99 apiece including UK postage and packing, is highly recommended to those of us who enjoy this sort of thing. It can be purchased directly from the publisher or, for Red Rose exiles on the other side of the world, I dare say a few copies will wing their way over to Roger Page.

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