Sez Lez: Yorkshire CCC’s 150th birthday in Sheffield

Back in Sheffield: Geoff Boycott.
Back in Sheffield: Geoff Boycott.
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THEY marked the 150th anniversary of the first football match (Sheffield FC v Hallam) ever staged at Bramall Lane last Saturday (not quite in the manner they would have hoped) and the city will host another historic 150th anniversary, and one of extreme significance, next week.

For Yorkshire County Cricket Club was ‘born’ in Sheffield on January 8, 1863 and there will be a celebration evening next Tuesday on the site of that historic meeting.

It’s not a huge event but it’s where it’s being held that is hugely significant.

It will be in the smaller Crucible Theatre Studio, where once stood the Adelphi Hotel where a small group of businessmen and city luminaries met and formed Yorkshire CCC 150 years ago.

As pointed out in Yorkshire cricket writer David Warner’s book The Sweetest Rose: 150 years of Yorkshire CCC, Sheffield had been the nerve centre of Yorkshire cricket for many years.

In fact, huge crowds were drawn to the cricket ground at Darnall - Warner notes reports of over 14,000 for a game there between All England and the Rest of Yorkshire in 1825 - and later to the ground closer to the city centre at Hyde Park.

Sheffield certainly was Yorkshire’s cricketing hub then, hence the 1863 meeting at the Adelphi Hotel and the formation of the County club. And all 12 members of that first committee came from Sheffield.

Next Tuesday’s event includes a question and answer session involving a couple of club greats in Geoffrey Boycott and Michael Vaughan and possibly the current Yorkshire captain Andrew Gale. Tickets have been on sale but numbers are limited.

Yorkshire, of course, became well known for their stubborn refusal to countenance anyone playing for the side who wasn’t born in the county.

The irony is that the man who was possibly the leading light at that formation, one Michael J Ellison, who was the first treasurer and took over as President 12 months later, wasn’t a Yorkshireman. He was born in Worksop!

n THE Duke of Edinburgh once saw him in the nude. And now he’s just received a card from the Queen!

Well, I’ve always said football referees at all levels accumulate a whole host of stories and anecdotes.

South Yorkshire refereeing stalwart Ron Skidmore (who made the first ever refereeing assessment on a young Howard Webb which included advice that he should get some stronger elastic for his shorts) has just received congratulations from all sources on his Diamond Wedding anniversary.

The card from from the Palace prompted Ron to recall his personal Duke of Edinburgh experience.

Ron, a leading non-league referee and a Football League linesman in his refereeing heyday, had been running the line at Bramall Lane at a match celebrating the 100th anniversary of the formation of the world’s first club Sheffield FC.

After the game, Ron was stripped off ready to join his two colleagues in the communal bath when the ref’s door opened and in walked the Duke along with football’s top men of the day, Sir Stanley Rous, then secretary of both the FA and FIFA, and Sir Joe Richards, the Football League President and also chairman of Barnsley.

It was a toss up which of the two sets of three, match officials or distinguished guests, was the more surprised.