Sunday 13th August 2006 was the date of the first in a hopefully long-running series of cricket matches between the athletes of the Yorkshire and Harrogate chapters of the Hash House Harriers. The gauntlet had been thrown down by Ever Ready and picked up by Stick and their teams took to the field at 1pm.
The day had started in fine fashion with the noon start first of all delayed by the teams knocking back a couple of quick ones and then the landlord of the Empress bringing out platefuls of chips. The delay was further extended by sandwiches, more chips, bread and dripping, and more beer. By the time the teams took to the grand theatrical setting of the Stray, Harrogate the scene had become slightly overcast. A touch of moisture in the air was also sure to help the swing bowlers. Harrogate won the toss and elected to field. The game was reduced to 18 overs per side due to uncertain drinking time. The Yorkshire openers Stiffy and Matilda were resolute in the defence of the new ball and Harrogates bowlers had to work hard to make inroads. Stiffy began to dominate the seamers and demonstrated some attractive stroke play. Matilda at the other end was more dour in defence and prodded occasionally for a quick single. Eventually the breakthrough came and Matilda got his marching orders having fought valiantly for his 3 runs. Rapunzel came in at no. 3 and looked uncomfortable from the start. The uneven bounce in the pitch had him wafting hopelessly outside the offstump. When he did prod one out to extra cover he tried for a suicidal single and was run out for a dismal duck. At this point the writers memory is becoming slightly marred by the illegal drugs handed out by Harrogate’s team doctor Pauline however the game went quiet for a while. Stiffy found himself stranded at the non-striker’s end while a succession of Yorkshire middle order batsman failed to show any real finesse. Flossie was extremely solid in defence but couldn’t quite break through the Harrogate ring of inner fieldsman. This was perhaps not surprising as Harrogate had ten players in the covers, a couple of slips, five between square leg and mid-wicket and an uncertain number of men at long on. Runs were not coming easy. Ever Ready came to the crease and managed to push things along with an impressive three runs. Stiffy was eventually out for an imperious 10 runs. Strapadickon suffered an early injury to his hamstring but battled on through the pain. Eventually Matilda was called in as a runner. This caused some serious confusion when the Yorkshire President Lick-It-Up came to the wicket. She was unaware of Matilda’s presence and was run out in an unfortunate manner when Strappa was firmly fixed to the crease and she found herself stranded half way down the pitch as Matilda attempted a quick single. There then followed a slightly unsavoury scene as Lick-It-Up repeatedly refused to leave the square, eventually having to be escorted off by her team mates. Ginger Root, Henry Root, and the rest of the tail wagged resolutely and Yorkshire cruised to 46 all out of 17.3 overs. The final total was ably assisted by top-scorer extras with 28 runs. Harrogate unfortunately wavered in line and gave away far too many wides.
The Harrogate openers came to the crease with a swagger and smashed the Yorkshire bowlers all around the park for the first few overs. It looked as though there was to be a rather easy victory for Harrogate. Yorkshire’s bowlers dug in though and once the breakthrough was made wickets started to fall at an alarming rate for Harrogate. Stiffy and Rapunzel picked up couple each. Long Hose, freed from umpiring duties, also joined in the fun, picking up a couple. His unerring line and length and lightning pace was reminiscent of his countryman Alan Donald at his best. Harrogate started to look shaky and some poor decisions led to a couple of run outs, Stiffy’s excellent throws from the outfield helping immeasurably. However, Yorkshire couldn’t quite find the cutting edge; four or five dropped catches in the deep and a sitter shelled by Rapunzel at the wicket meant that Harrogate could keep up the run chase. The bowlers also began to tire and Yorkshire started to bowl too many wides just as Harrogate had done. All looked well though when a Harrogate tail-ender spooned a dolly catch back to Matilda to win the game. Unfortunately 20 years of rugby training seemed to confuse him as he attempted to turn side on and catch the ball with his forearms and chest. The ball found the earth and Harrogate lived to score the winning runs with the next ball.
In the end sport was probably the winner as the Yorkshire side started to let the ugly side of the game creep in. Their celebrations as the Harrogate middle order start to falter made Monty Panesar look like Gandhi. Persistent sledging when Long Hose got a grip on the scoring rate and Lick-It-Up’s refusal to walk all added to a slightly unsporting performance. All ended in good cheer though as Yorkshire saluted the Harrogate effort in the correct fashion and there was much merry-making in the pavilion.
One hopes the event will be revived in future years as it’s a lot more fun than running every weekend.
Back to YH3 Home