The terrace at Treeton, in front of the bar, in the sunshine, is a fantastic place to watch cricket.
Raised above the field and with the landscaped trees and slopes beyond, reclaimed from what once was the black spoil of the colliery, it is a place for spectators, a hundred or more, to enjoy the game being played out before them, supping their drinks in rapt concentration.
This weekend was the last of the first half of the season, the day the South Yorkshire League turned around, in more ways than one. League leaders Whitley Hall’s greatest test was always going to be here, against last year’s champions Treeton, and so it proved.
Whitley have carried all before them, but anyone who’s played against Treeton when former England U19 Charlie Roebuck is in form and when Steve Foster, arguably the finest all-round league cricketer, is at his most determined, would have relished the contest: Jim Tasker against Steve Foster, Chris Siddall and Neil Longhurst against Gareth Davis and Scott Cunningham, but who’s to balance Roebuck?
Whitley won the toss and batted. All season, they hadn’t scored less than 274 in a completed innings batting first - till now, as Steve Foster ripped into them. In a smattering of overs, they were 19-5, with Siddall, Tasker etc all gone and Foster had taken four. Greig Batty (38) and the tail fought back and gave them some respectability, but only 126. Foster had 5-33, Adam Clarke 3-13.
Could Whitley now take the game to Treeton? No.
Roebuck (76*) and Foster (49*) just obliterated them, in 15 overs, winning by 10 wickets. Tasker did his best to keep Roebuck away from the strike. He faced just 35 balls (Foster faced 56) but scored 14 fours and a six, hitting a boundary every other ball.
It doesn’t change the table but it certainly sets up the second half of the season, the last match of which will be... Whitley Hall against Treeton, but this time at Whitley. Another terrace, another crowd, another day.
All else on Saturday was an anti-climax. But Tickhill maintained their momentum, beating Coal Aston comfortably 230 against 81. Andrew Rennison made 60 and James Stuart took 7-37. So did Aston Hall, bowling Conisbrough out for 159 after scoring only 168 themselves.
Nicholas Smit made 42 and took 4-34. Darfield similarly made only 146. Hallam’s Matt Newman took 6-31 but Michael Topp matched it (6-41) and bowled Hallam out for 110.
Elsecar, revelling in their return of form beat old rivals Wickersley. Ainsley Swallow (72) and Jason Meadows (71) led the way to 257-7.
Scott Jones (6-54) pegged Wickersley back to 221 (Haider Jehangir 73, Jordan Lowe 59). And at Wath, Lee Rigby made 79 as Houghton Main 240-7 (Sam Whitlam 5-70) beat the home side (189-8) but not before Sam Drury (55) and Jonathan Hays (47) had secured a vital batting point as Wath battle with Coal Aston at the bottom of the table.
In Division One, Whiston maintained their march back into the Championship, piling up 304-3 (Joe Fletcher 80* and Steve Taylor 69* putting on 146 together) while Millhouses Works tried hard but couldn’t get beyond 203 ao (Richard Everitt 52).
Norton Oakes stayed in touch by beating third-placed Rotherham Town, Jabaar Khan taking 4-36 as Rotherham were all out for 142. Paul Reviil and James Thompson put on 82 to set the scene for a seven-wicket win.
Collegiate Seconds also did well, matching a powerful batting display of 242-5 by Barnsley Seconds to win by five wickets (Ben Rooke 66*). At the other end, Norton Woodseats managed only 92-9 (Biswick Kapala 6-22) against Whitley Hall Seconds and lost by seven wickets.
Shiregreen, disappointingly after scoring 205ao (Hamzah Younis 64, Nigel Walker 6-58), couldn’t stop Aston Hall Seconds overtaking them for six down (Mark Barnard 52).
On Sunday, the sun came back to Treeton, and the spectators, to watch the Nicholas Associates Whitworth Cup Semi Final. Hallam turned up and performed better than Whitley Hall, just.
Joe Cooper made 45, Nick Dymock 35 and there was a rustle in the tail, but the total was only 151, which pleased the spectators, because it meant there was just enough for Charlie Roebuck to get 100 (his second against Hallam) as Treeton won by four wickets.
Sam Davison, a bright young 14-year-old, got him out. So maybe there’s some hope for the rest of us.