On a footballing weekend dominated by Manchester United’s defeat of Chelsea which pretty much wrapped up the Premiership and with the saga of Queens Park Rangers “will they won’t they” promotion to the top flight seemingly over (for the time being at least...), the debut goal of Middlesbrough’s Adam Reach went largely unheralded.
However, I found the news of particular interest because Adam is the son of Paul Reach, with and against whom I played a lot of cricket during the 1990s. When I joined Paul at Chester le Street in 1997, I think he was a little disappointed... don’t get me wrong, we got on well, but he used to smash me all round the park and by moving clubs, I was essentially denying him two guaranteed half centuries a season!
“Rico” was apparently a useful footballer in his day, although I never saw him play. Back in ’97, we were involved in a cricket cup tie at Bishop Auckland, whose Kingsway ground hosted both cricket and football and as we were lapping round the boundary, Paul was very keen to reminisce about his moment of FA Cup glory...
Some years earlier, he’d scored twice for Chester le Street against a higher-ranked Bishop Auckland side and he remembered celebrating one of the goals (a “bullet” header I think he said...) in front of the away supporters gathered on the open terracing next to the main stand. Paul told the tale well; it was gripping stuff... “So who did you get in the next round..?”
Rico’s face dropped... “No one... we lost 3-2...”
Back on the cricket field, last week was memorable for Jonathan Bairstow, son of the former Yorkshire and England wicketkeeper David. Jonny recorded his maiden first-class century in the County Championship match against Nottinghamshire; not only that, he went on to make 205, sharing in a Yorkshire record 9th wicket stand of 151 with Ryan Sidebottom, another player whose father had also represented the county.
Young Bairstow is a former pupil of my old school, St Peter’s in York; the last St Peter’s cricketer to make it into the county ranks was Steve Coverdale, a wicketkeeper batsman with Yorkshire and Northamptonshire during the 1970s and1980s. Steve never managed a first class century, but he does hold an unusual claim to fame... In his 46 first class matches, he bowled just one over – and it was a wicket maiden. So he has a career bowling average of 0.00 which is mighty impressive (and very close to my club batting average...).
The last time an ex-St Peter’s pupil registered a County Championship century was almost fifty years ago... The game was Leicestershire against Somerset at Yeovil on 28th May 1962 and the man in question was my father David. I’m extremely grateful that he passed on a lifelong love of cricket to his only son, but why didn’t I get some of his bloody ability as well..?
All my own work... almost.