Editor of a Load of Bull Charles Ross has penned us a piece following on in this theme, his piece as the others in this series are, is a very unique piece from his perspective, going in unexpected directions…..
The Beautiful Game?
I have always loved my cricket.
Loved playing it, loved watching it, loved everything about it. Right since I was a kid. And when I think now about my cricketing allegiances, I realise that the primary one is, and always was, to the game itself.
As a kid, it was outings to Old Trafford that were special. They were full of household names in the 1970’s. No, not that Old Trafford (what were you thinking?!), but the one down the road, the home of Lancashire CCC. I learned early in life that a red rose is something special. As a Shropshire lad, I would also occasional get to go to Edgbaston, although this would primarily be to watch Test cricket. Watching Lillee and Thompson in their pomp terrorise the English batting line up on a wet pitch there was one of those moments that just stays with you forever.
In later years, as an adult, it was to Birmingham I moved and I have remained a county member since. I don’t get to see that much of Warwickshire most years, but I regard my membership sub as a tax worth paying for a game I love. And, of course, it ensures I can get tickets for the Edgbaston Test. Now, this has produced some really special moments. And I count myself privileged to have seen, at close quarters, some of the game’s greats. Watching the first ball of a Test, a bouncer from Ambrose to Atherton, rear off the pitch and go first bounce into the ropes; I saw the reaction of the two players. The game ended before lunch on the third day.
I count myself privileged to have seen the great Sachin Tendulkar make a flawless century; a fabulous innings from the greatest batsmen of the modern era. He went to his century with a shot which simply defied belief. I was, I would like to think, one of the first out of my seat to applaud the “little Master”. As I did the likes of Mark Taylor and Steve Waugh. Even – especially – Shane Warne. I passed him at the Test there last summer and just stopped, quite genuinely, to thank him for all he had done for the game and for the memories he had given me.
Of course, I always turn up wanting England to win, and have revelled in some heroic performances from our own. That 2005 game with England winning by 2 runs and a monumental performance from Mr Flintoff; all those rainy days, all those draws, all those defeats were in their way part of what made this such a special Test to be at.
Why on earth am I writing about cricket? Perhaps because it is the depth of winter and the smell of fresh grass in April and the start of a new season seems an eternity away. But it’s more because, with cricket, it is the game I love. Its values, its history, everything about it which makes it a thread in my life I cherish. I can recognise, appreciate and applaud greatness when I see it.
And, when it comes to cricket, my allegiance lies more with England than with any one county side. It is the national team which matters most. But above and beyond even that, it is cricket itself I love. That is why, much though I may prefer England to win, I can stand and applaud an Australian.
As a kid, I loved football. I would get taken to the occasional game at different grounds. But it was a visit to a snowy Molineux on Boxing Day 1970 that the love affair with Wolves began. A 2-0 win over Everton courtesy some lanky guy wearing the number 10 shirt. There could never be another team for me.
I’m not that bothered about England. I was lucky enough to be taken to Wembley as a kid, but it never hooked me the same way that seeing the world’s great cricketers did. I got taken once to the other Old Trafford and saw Best, Charlton and co. I knew I was seeing some of the legends of the game and, as a one-off trip, it was great. But I only went in the first place because we were staying down the road in April for the cricket.
When it comes to football, the club versus country debate never exists. It’s Wolves. End of. And as for the game, I hate so much about professional football these days and what it has become. I often feel I could – would like to, even – simply walk away from the game. But the old gold shirt still stirs something inside me. Like many love affairs, it has had its lows, and not all of them results related. Call me unsporting, but I can never bring myself to applaud an opposition goal. It’s totally different to cricket. Every goal conceded, every defeat does something to me. It’s personal.
I sometimes wonder how I would feel about Wolves and football if I hadn’t wasted so much time over so many years producing a fanzine. I can’t even understand why I have done it. Perhaps that tells you all you need to know about what Wolves means to me.