Chris Waters

Yorkshire Post - Sports Monday - - SPORT - ■ Email: chris.waters@jpi­me­ ■ Twit­ter: @CWater­sYPS­port

“AT noon to­day will be com­menced at York an event which will fig­ure promi­nently in the an­nals of York cricket. By the en­ergy and en­ter­prise of the man­age­ment of the York Gentle­men’s Club, the rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the broad shire will be op­posed to an eleven se­lected by the county of Kent, and the is­sue will be fought out on the Gentle­men’s Ground, Bootham Stray, on this and two suc­ceed­ing days. The lo­cal com­mit­tee has put forth ev­ery en­deav­our to make the im­por­tant fix­ture an un­doubted suc­cess, and it is to be hoped that the mem­bers and all lovers of cricket in the county will rally round the pro­mot­ers and give them such en­cour­age­ment as to war­rant them in try­ing to bring about equally at­trac­tive en­gage­ments in fu­ture. Wick­ets will be pitched at 12 o’clock to­day, and on Tues­day and Wed­nes­day op­er­a­tions will be com­menced at 11.30am.”

So pro­claimed the York Her­ald on Mon­day, June 9, 1890, the open­ing day of the in­au­gu­ral first-class match to be played in the city.

It was the first of­fi­cial sea­son of County Cham­pi­onship cricket, and Lord Hawke’s York­shire beat Frank Marchant’s Kent by eight wick­ets in­side two days.

Sadly, the York Her­ald’s de­sire that it would prompt the pro­mot­ers to un­der­take “equally at­trac­tive en­gage­ments in fu­ture” did not ma­te­ri­alise.

Al­though the game was well at­tended, with 5,000 com­ing through the turn­stiles to gen­er­ate gate re­ceipts of £190 (around £15,500 to­day), the next first-class match to be played in York will not be­gin un­til June 17 next sum­mer – an in­ter­val of just over 129 years.

Newly-pro­moted War­wick­shire will be the vis­i­tors to Clifton Park, where their cap­tain, Jee­tan Pa­tel, played for York Cricket Club in 2003.

The match in 1890 took place at the now de­funct Wig­gin­ton Road ground, now cov­ered by York Hospi­tal, and then home of The York­shire Gentle­men’s Cricket Club, which en­joyed a close re­la­tion­ship with York­shire CCC.

On the face of it, it is re­mark­able that York­shire have played only once in their cap­i­tal city, es­pe­cially con­sid­er­ing that they have played first-class cricket through­out the “broad shire”, al­beit nowhere other than at Head­in­g­ley or Scar­bor­ough since 1996.

It en­sures that the nov­elty value will be high when War­wick­shire come call­ing, while there are plans for York­shire to play a one-day match at Clifton Park in 2020 and also in 2021, with next year’s Cham­pi­onship game made pos­si­ble by the fact that Head­in­g­ley is un­avail­able due to its World Cup fix­tures.

Al­though the cur­rent pro­mot­ers, so to speak, will hope for a sim­i­lar re­sult to the 1890 fix­ture and a York­shire win, they will not de­sire a re­peat of the 1890 weather, which might not have sat­is­fied the um­pires’ light me­ters to­day. LONG WAIT OVER:

Ac­cord­ing to the Post, the game started in “ter­ri­bly dull weather, with rain threat­en­ing ev­ery minute”, and Kent’s first in­nings was soon in trou­ble, the vis­i­tors slid­ing to 19-3 after win­ning the toss.

To the ca­sual ob­server, it might seem cu­ri­ous that Kent should choose to bat in such ad­verse con­di­tions, in­stead of un­leash­ing their bowlers in the un­sea­son­able gloom.

But they had lit­tle choice as they would have been three field­ers short other­wise, with Messrs Wal­ter Hearne, Stan­ley Christo­pher­son and Hugh Spot­tis­woode hav­ing failed to turn up in time for the start.

The York­shire Post noted: “W. Hearne ar­rived after the close of the in­nings, and Mr Christo­pher­son, who by a blun­der in tele­graph­ing had not started on the jour­ney, and Mr Spot­tis­woode, were not avail­able un­til late in the evening.”

The Globe news­pa­per said that it was “bad county cricket form on the part of three mem­bers of the eleven not to turn up in time to play, and the Kent team were thus very heav­ily hand­i­capped”.

And so, when Kent lost their sev­enth wicket with the score on 46, they were ef­fec­tively all out and the in­nings ended. Bobby Peel, the left-arm spin­ner, took 4-21 and all-rounder Ge­orge Ulyett 3-15.

The weather picked up be­fore York­shire’s re­ply, al­though con­di­tions still favoured the bowlers. “Hall and Ulyett were the de­fend­ers,” said the York­shire Post of the home side’s open­ing pair, “and they man­aged to hit pretty well, 38 notches be­ing reg­is­tered in half-an-hour.”

But 38-0 be­came 38-2, and even­tu­ally 114 all-out with just Ulyett (29) and Peel (24) mak­ing any sort of score. By stumps, Kent had reached 70-3 in their sec­ond in­nings, a lead of two runs.

Fair weather greeted the start of day two, al­though “the sun was ob­scured by drift­ing clouds”. There were around 3,000 spec­ta­tors as “many ar­dent votaries of cricket took ad­van­tage of spe­cial trains laid on from sur­round­ing dis­tricts”.

The match was at­tended by Prince Al­bert Vic­tor, Queen Vic­to­ria’s grand­son, who was a mem­ber of The York­shire Gentle­men’s Cricket Club. The prince had a colour­ful life be­fore his pre­ma­ture death, aged 28, dur­ing the flu pan­demic of 1892, a re­cur­rence of the so-called ‘Rus­sian flu’ that killed about one mil­lion peo­ple world­wide.

Three years be­fore his death, the prince was im­pli­cated in the Cleve­land Street Scan­dal, which in­volved a ho­mo­sex­ual brothel in Lon­don, al­though there was no con­clu­sive ev­i­dence that he at­tended or was gay.

Some au­thors even sug­gested that he was Jack the Rip­per, but that claim has been widely dis­missed amid sug­ges­tions that he could not have been in Lon­don at the time of the mur­ders.

In more pro­saic news, Kent lifted their sec­ond in­nings score to 167 all-out (Peel 5-27) to leave York­shire ex­actly 100 for vic­tory. Lord Hawke saw them home with an un­beaten 28, de­spite the game be­ing de­layed when his Lord­ship broke his bat.

Vic­tory pre­served York­shire’s un­beaten start to the sea­son and left them top of the Cham­pi­onship. How­ever, as the York Her­ald re­flected, “such is the glo­ri­ous un­cer­tainty of cricket that few would be bold enough even to haz­ard a guess as to what would have been the re­sult if the hop county had been able to place the full com­ple­ment of play­ers in the field on Mon­day morn­ing”.

York­shire did not re­tain their po­si­tion at the head of the ta­ble, Sur­rey go­ing on to take the ti­tle. Lan­cashire fin­ished sec­ond, and York­shire and Kent equal third, with an iden­ti­cal record of played 14, won six, drawn five, lost three.

Wig­gin­ton Road was used for York­shire sec­ond team games un­til the late 1950s, while the ground also played host to many tour­ing Aus­tralia and New Zealand na­tional rugby league teams.

Its place in the an­nals of York­shire cricket is, there­fore, as­sured, soon to be joined by Clifton Park.

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