I was put off cricket at secondary school when Jason Grady used to throw the corky at your groin as hard as he could. He didn't bowl but launched the ball at your nether regions as fast as he could (the teacher Diddy Dumpling didn't seem to mind.) Being an all-boys school few people wore or could afford protection. Bailey once brought in a groin box but I only remember him keeping his egg sandwiches in it.
Lord's Cricket Ground is the most prestigious place for cricket in the UK and when I've been to London the coach driver usually points out a flat owned by Cliff Richard which offers an unobstructed view of proceedings (not sure if this is true.) Who is Lord? I didn't know he was and was sure he wasn't Jesus so I looked it up. It was Thomas Lord and he was popped out onto the sheets in a narrow house in Thirsk in North Yorkshire. On a visit to Scarborough I went to find the blue plaque. I found Thirsk so appealing I've stayed there overnight in the motor home a few times. At the centre is a large cobbled square and at the weekends a busy nightlight hatches out. I put on the radio and sit in darkness with chips and curry and a buttered muffin and people-watch.
I found Thomas's plaque just off the main square and it's now a museum (closed when I visited but it was dusk.) He was born in this house where Iím stood in 1755 and played first-class cricket from 15 years. He wasn't here for long though as when he was a boy the family moved to Norfolk and he grew up there before heading south for work. He got a job as a bowler and general attendant at the White Conduit Cricket Club in Islington, mixing with the gentry.
He was 31 when keen cricketers the 9th Earl of Winchilsea and the 4th Duke of Richmond asked Thomas to find a more private venue. About a year later he acquired seven acres of land in Marylebone and started his first cricket ground. Thomasís cricket career pretty much began and started here but eventually the lease on the land expired. He obtained an eighty-year lease on two fields in St John's Wood and built yet another cricket field and club. Four years later he was knocked back when Parliament requisitioned the land so the Regent's Canal could cut through. Undaunted and backed by the gentry Thomas then moved his ground to the present site in St John's Wood (rolling up the turf and taking it with him.) He was 59 when the placed opened in 1814 but he was wasnít making enough money so he developed part of the ground for housing (whatís new?) This didnít leave him much room for the actual cricket so a batsman called William Ward (also a director of the Bank of England) bought the land for £5,000. Today we all known it as Lordís Cricket Ground. It should really be called Wardís but the Lordís name seems to have stuck. After all his efforts I suppose he deserved a nugget of immortality.
Thomas lived nearby until he was 75 and he retired to West Meon in Hampshire where heís buried (heís on my list)...a few metres away from the notorious spy Guy Burgess. Heíd married and had children and Thomas junior was also a first-class cricketer. I'll revisit Thirsk soon and go inside the museum but whenever I think of cricket I flinch at the memory of Jason Grady throwing a hard ball at my nuggets. I did a salute and left to sit in the motor home and gawp at people.
It all started from here...