The Truth about THAT game at Hayfield

Along with the mysterious impartial spectator who always seems to be present whenever controversy appears at Whaley Bridge,( but never offers to help with the teas, or buy 200 club tickets), I would also question the continual reference to the game at Hayfield in the mid-80s, which has reached almost iconic status in the pantheons of club legend, yet in truth, has been grossly exaggerated to make the story funnier, offering no purpose, other than to give Mr Madden (who wasn’t even at the club at the time) the opportunity to utilise a few diversionary tactics by answering a criticism that hasn’t really been made.

Cricket and gamesmanship have always gone hand-in-hand, with varying degrees of subtlety, but it’s one of the great sporting ironies that the perceived troublemaker is often more honest than some of the self-appointed good guys.

As TR wild will undoubtedly testify my sporting character remains unblemished in terms of recalling batsmen who have received an incorrect decision from an unsighted umpire. Three times I caught a batsman on a bump ball. Three times he was given out and three times I told the umpire to withdraw the decision.

On the other hand a certain former Second x1 Captain spent almost two years apologising to me for an embarrassing tit-for-tat incident at Stockport Sunday School (you know who you are)

But I digress.

Around 1986, table-topping Hayfield were hosting a ramshackle outfit from Whaley Bridge and for a guide to the strength of our line-up, look no further than the image of Roy Clayton donning the wicket keeping gloves. It was the Sunday of a double weekend and to put it mildly we were lambs to the proverbial slaughter.

We batted first, but at roughly 100-8 the heavens opened in biblical proportions. Hayfield were desperate to restart, but after almost two hours off the pitch, including an early tea, it appeared that the Gods of Cricket were smiling kindly on the boys from the Bridge.

Unfortunately, one team’s stroke of good fortune is another team’s lethargic boredom and in a moment of self-inflicted stupidity the Johnson brother found a football. Clayton organised teams and minus Crompton who was stuck in the changing room loft, we indulged in a game of five-a-side in the pouring rain, in full view of the bemused umpires and the startled opposition.

Bizarrely, this gave the umpires the wrong impression that we were keen to continue in sodden conditions, so within ten minutes the bails were being reset and we returned to the game in somewhat sulking mode.

Due to the long delay there wasn’t much time remaining so we embarked on a cunning plan to slow the game down. It was still raining so predictably once our innings had closed, every delivery was followed by calls for a cloth and a late change in the field, usually involving third man being switched to long-On.

As every minute passed it got sillier and sillier. This wasn’t so much gamesmanship as public school tomfoolery, especially when the ball started to disappear into the river. This was when the infamous Umpire shout of “Nobody go over that wall” was followed by all eleven players, including Clayton, jumping over the wall.

Phil Leadbetter was a little too keen, so after finding the ball and throwing it to Clayton he was astonished to see the ball return to the river within a matter of seconds. At this point Ledder went into John Motson mode circa 1974

“Roy? What on earth have you done that for?”

By now we had burnt all our bridges with the umpires, John Smith in particular, and there was arguably a bigger chance of hell freezing over than Whaley Bridge obtaining a rain affected draw.

I’m not sure which happened first, but the sun reappeared and Ledder went for 25 in one over. Karma took control and Hayfield cruised to victory, but if we had been sensible the game might have been called off hours earlier.

Nothing in common with hutching or sledging whatsoever.