As a young lad, my club’s dressing rooms incorporated seating that lifted up to reveal storage space underneath. These were the 1970s and the era of “club gear”, where the club would provide pads, batting gloves, keeping gloves, bats and even occasionally boxes (!) for communal use. Try telling that to the kids today! Such gear would be stored in these under-seat lockers between games.
Naturally, inquisitive young minds would have a scout through these lockers to see what treasures lay within. On occasion, you struck gold, and a copy of Penthouse or Men Only would be lurking amongst the pads – well I was 11 after all, and the internet hadn’t been invented….
More often though, you would come across an old scorebook. A record of games past, a record of your club’s history. A record of games you knew absolutely nothing about, games that took place before you were even considered, never mind born.
Having played for a club which has been less than diligent in keeping accurate records over the years, no set system has ever been in place for retaining old scorebooks, with the result that a huge number are untraceable. I know, I have the ones that ARE available in my house.
So discovering a 1962 book in the lockers allowed you a window into the past, to see names of men who were now retired & regular spectators. To see that they too played for the club and also allowed you a glimpse of how good / bad they may have been.
Looking back on the games your Dad played in, such as the effort from 1974 below , which was one of his games just prior to retirement.
The perfectly manicured efforts of the 1976 scorer (see below), or the books that are much more the norm with an ink-spider crawling across them and not adding up, even though as a side you only totalled 48.
Or, more commonly, you can take a nostalgic look back over your own performances, remember some of the games in which you played, especially the ones where you did well! (I couldn’t resist popping my highest score in!)
Then there are the score books that hold a greater club-history – the 10 wicket performance of one of our 3rd team players in the late 90s, the fabled 1973 game where my Dad captained our 2ndXI on Cup Final day with 7 men (Sunderland were in the Cup Final) and how they were all out for 15 and got to watch the whole game.
Or the game where our 3rd XI could only muster 6 men (had 3 teams to turn out on same Bank Holiday Monday), but still managed to get 170.
Or my personal favourite, the book where the young lad scoring was required to enter the surname “Wordsworth” in the book seven times over the course of the game. All 7 efforts had a different spelling, none of them correct. How I wish I had that book.
Get a few lads who have played cricket together over a period of time, and chuck them the scorebook rom when they were under-17s and see how they react.
With the general move towards computer scoring now infiltrating well into the club scene, perhaps we aren’t too far away from the point when all scoring will be carried out via an ipod-compatible app and the records all stored online.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a Luddite, and electronic recording of results has huge advantages in terms of the statistical record, but there will be a moment of sadness within me if the scorebook is to die. In 20 years’ time, I just can’t imagine anyone sitting enjoying a pint leafing through the webpages of the 2013 season on play-cricket.com.
If you’re lucky enough to play at a club that regularly stores their old books, go and dig out the one for the first season you played next time you are down there. I guarantee you’ll love it, old scorebooks are great. Now I’m 45, I’d definitely consider them a better find than a copy of Penthouse or Men Only. Just.