Sandy Grosset on ‘His First Cricket Match.’ (13 July, 1889)

In this Scots column the recurring character Sandy Grosset explores his first cricketing experience. Cricket is not, perhaps, a game associated with Scotland but in the 19th century there was a thriving club scene. The People’s Journal regularly featured cricket scores alongside Football and Bowls. Forfarshire Cricket Club, based at Forthill in Broughty Ferry is still one of the predominant cricket clubs in Scotland, and Forthill one of the best cricketing facilities. Their long history is demonstrated in the same 13 July edition of the paper:

Forfarshire v. Perthshire.

                These Clubs met at Forthill on Saturday, and the match, as usual, attracted a large number of spectators. The annual holidays in Perth commenced on Saturday, and crowds of people left the city by road, river, and rail. Thousands of the holiday-makers found their way to Forthill.

Dundee United v. Newport.

                The Newport had the Dundee United at Newport on Saturday.

St Andrew’s Cross v. Douglasfield (Dundee).

—An enjoyable and exciting match was played between the above team in the Baxter Park on Saturday before a large number of spectators.

Blackness Foundry (Dundee) Loom Shop v. Low Shop.—Played on Stobsmuir. The Loom Shop were victorious by 29 runs. For the winning side, J. Soutar played a splendid not out innings of 35. Ross batted well for the Low Shop. D. Smith had five wickets for 7 runs.

Maister Editur,—After I got back from my venturesome jaunt into Stirlingshire I gaed up to the brig where the men forgaither these fine nichts to hear the crack o’ the toon. Young Jack Tamson had been visiting his freen’s in the South, an’ he was having a’ the say till himsel’. Jack lays off a story real well, an’ I’ll just gie ye the account o’ his first cricket match in his own words.

“Weel, boys,” he said “if ye jist ha’d a wee i’ll tell ye a’ aboot it. Ye maun ken I wus stayin’ wi’ ma faither’s brither’s sister, an’ her son wus the captain o’ the Clubs, an’ a great player. Him an’ me yist to hae richt cracks at nicht aboot cricket, an’ I aften telt him I wus ane o’ the best players in the half o’ Scotland (I didna say what half), an’ captain o’ the Thingambob Club, forbye bein’ goal-keeper to the Camlachie Club; but he said I meant ‘wicket-keeper’ an’ no ‘goal-keeper,’ an’ I said, ‘Exactly; oh ay, oh ay; exactly,’ a’ the time lachin’ up ma sleeves to think that he wud never ken what thumpers I wus tellin’ him, for I kent nae mar aboot cricket than a sookin’ turk ey daes aboot fiddlin’.

“Ae micht he invited me to gang an’ see his Club playin’ a match the next day. I was tae get a drive in their machine an’ dinner alang wi’ them, so it wud cost me nocht. I said I wud be vera gled. Next mornin’ I fan’ mesel’ amang the best cricket players o’ the place, drivin’ awa’ through the country, an after three oors’ drivin’ we arrived at our destination. Ane o’ the men didna turn up, but them that did said they cud gae withoot him; sae the match was begud. The ither team gaed in first, bit they a’ cam’ back wi’ soor faces afore they wur vera lang awa’, an’ whan they wur a’ pit oot, a’ got their dinners, an’ me amang the rest.

“Whan dinner wus bye, Bob, that’s my cusine, sent in his team, bit they didna dae ony better than the ithers, an’ whan their last wicket fell they wur seven rins shin’. I heard some ane cryin’ for the next man, an’ Bob cam’ rinnin’ tae me an’ ast me tae gan an’ play. I said I kent nocht aboot it, as nether I did, bit he said I wus jist jokin’, an’ wud hae me in jist tae ha’d the bat till the ither man got an over as he said, sae I threw aff ma coat; an’ he sent me to get a pair o’ battin’-gloves in a bag, tellin’ me to get a guid pair, bit when I went I cud only see ae pair, an’ some pairs o’ skeleton gloves. ‘Losh bless us!’ says I to mysel whun I saw the skeletons, ‘they English folk bate the vera deevil, to think that they canna gang an’ play a cricket match withoot takin’ skeleton gloves wi’ them to rob folk; I wunner hoo they work them. Pit them on an’ slip them intae ither folk’s pockets; that’s the way an’ nae mistake. I’d better say nocht aboot them. Bob’s forgot they’re here, or he—

“Look sharp, sir!” I hears Bob cryin’, sae I put on the pair o’ glovesؙ—an’ gie clumsy they wur—an’ cam oot.

“Man,’ says Bob “those are wicket-keeping gloves; here, put on this leg-guard till I bring you a pair,” sae he gaed awa’ an’ I put on the leg-guard; sune he cam’ back, an’ put a pair o’ the skeletons on me.

“I lifted a bat, an’ had jist got out to the field whun he cried on me to come back. I did, wunnerin’ whut wus up noo. “Don’t you see you’ve put it on the wrong leg?” “Na, na,” says I, “I hae’t on the richt leg.” “But the right leg’s the wrong one;” sae he put ane on ma ither leg an’ I gaed awa’ to play.

“The man I wus in wi’ wus ca’d Gordon an’ the first twa baa’s pased him, bit he hit the third, an’ I wus lookin’ whar it wus gan when he cries, “Are you coming?” “O aye!” I answered, and threw doon ma bat an’ ran to meet him. I wus jist gan to ask him whut he wantit whun he stoppit and growled, “You’re a confounded ass, if ever there was one,” an’ then turned back. I didna ken jist whut to dae, for it took ma breath awa’, but mindin’ whut Bob had telt me, aye to rin whun Gordon ran, an’ to turn whun he turned, I jist said the same an’ turned an’ ran back. I wus jist steppin’ owre a whit line afore the wickets whun the man that had the baa threw it at me wi’ a’ his micht, bit luckily it hit the wickets an’ no me.

“How’s that?” he cried.

“O,” says I, “it didna hit me, an’ mebbe jist as weel for you, for if it had I wud a went roun’ yer face like the rim o’ a hat, an’ made it as flat as a scone in five minits less than nae time.”

“They a’ looked at me an’ lached, an’ a man in black says ‘Not out.’ I didna say ocht, for he lookit like a meenister, but I thought he was the barefaced leear I’d seen for a while, for onybody wi’ haf an e’e cud hae seen that the bat was richt oot o’ my han’ an’ lyin’ on the groun’ a’ the time.

“Bob cam’ up an’ telt me no to lark, an’ to tak’ ma bat wi’ me the next time, an’ a lot mair, bit the bowler cried “Play!” sae he gaed awa’. Gordon missed it, but it missed the wickets, an’ the next ane he got, an’ cried, ‘Come away, sir, and brng your bat with you this time.” “Ay,” says I, “an’ wull I bring the wickets too?” “No,” he yelled; “look sharp and we’ll have a four.” Bit we only got twa, an’ he missed the rest.

“It was my turn to get a baa noo, sae Bob am’ up an’ blethered awa’ to me, an’ I said “Yes” and “No’ as I thocht fit. “Play” was cried, an’ on cam’ the baa sae swift that I cud scarcely see’t, bit I jist noticed it was comin’ mair for my legs than the wickets. No jist wantin’ to be a cripple yet, I jumped in afore the wicket an’ made a terrible slash at the baa as it gaed fleein’ by. I got it aboot the bottom o’ the bat, hoo I dinna ken. Onyway, wi’ a “Shee ya!” I sent it fleein’ oot o’ the fiel’. Then the a’fa’ cries got up, “Well played sir,” “Run it out,” “Splendid leg hit, sir.”

“I wis jist gaun to tell them it didna hit ma leg at a’, an’ ma conscience a guid job it didna, when Gordon cried—“Run, run, run,” sae I ran, ran, ran, till I cud ran nae langer, and some one cried “Lost ball,” an’ we stopped.

“As I walked back to ma place thinks I, “Here’s a case, I wish tae gudeness I was at the back o’ beyont. Lost a ba’ an’ ‘ll has tae pay’t, it’ll brake ma grannie’s heart, O dear me! I don’t care, it wisna ma faut, it wis the bowler’s, an’ I’ll tell him that, he had nae business tryin’ for my legs, they’re no the wickets.”

“By this time I wus back up, sae says I to ane o’ the ither players, “If ye please, sir, what’s the price o’—will I hae to pay’t?” Says he, “Just-u-av-patience-sa-hand-hit’ll-be-hea’-hin-a-moment.” “Ugh! ca canny; dinna use sic lang-nebit anes, ye gie year knockit me doon wi’ that ane, what wad she be sayin?” Then somebody touched me, an’, turnin’ roon’, I saw Bob sae awfully excited-lookin’ that I thocht he was gaun to knock me doon whar I stood, an’ when he grabed ma han’ I cried, “O, I dudna help it, I’ll no dae’t again.” He swung ma airm back an’ forrit like the han’le o’o a’ pump, an’ said, “Well done, sa’ you’ve won us the match, the Club s greatly indebted to you.”

“A’ richt,” says I “but will the indebtedness pay the ba’ I hae lost?” Afore he cud answer half a dizzen players yelled oot, “Mind your eye,” an’ the ba’ gaed scuddin’ by us. I think it hadna been far lost. A new bowler wis noo put on, an’ I min’ his first ba’ cam’ stottin’ slowly alang the groun’. Thinks I, “Noo for anither six hit, an’ that’ll be twa, which—let me see—six an’ six, ay, that’s thirteen. I’ll show them the way to play cricket. A six hit every ba’, here goes.” The ba’ wis close at me, sae I lifted ma bat an’ made at it as hard as I wis able. I fancied it gan owre a kirk steeple three milesawa’, bit somehoo or ither I neither heard it nor felt it on ma’ bat, an’ I didna se’et gaun owre the kirk steeple either, tho’ I watched a lang time, bit I heard a soun’ shin’ me, an’ turnin’ roun’ lo an’ behold! the wickets were shifted an’ the ba’ aside them, an’ a’ the fouk cheerin’ the like ye never saw. Of course I wis oot.” Ye’ll unerstan’ frae this, Maister Editur, that we have some far travelled fouk in Rouskie forbye

Sandy Grosset.

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