The River Esk flows through Eskdale for a little short of 30 miles before it reaches the sea at Whitby and it was at the very popular seaside resort and fishing port that I began my Saturday watching. A couple of years ago I heard the Whitby captain interviewed on local radio at a time when they had a realistic chance of promotion to the premier division of the NYSD. Alas that did not happen and as we near the end of this season they find themselves involved in a contest to escape relegation. The previous Saturday they had, to quote the Whitby Gazette, 'boosted their hopes of avoiding relegation when they had beaten Redcar by 82 runs'. This week their opponents were bottom club Middlesbrough II and I joined three other spectators at the Turnbull ground as the teams took the field shortly before two o'clock.
Whitby had won the toss and elected to bat and with not a little help from extras made steady progress until skipper William Donald was out with the score on 52. A look inside the pavilion (above) revealed a team photograph from 1998 which included a very young Adam Lyth but with my main aim of the day, to visit the only NYSD ground where I had not seen cricket, accomplished, it was time to move on. The website shows a comfortable victory for Whitby.
Next target was Hinderwell, a village close to Staithes, and a match in the Eskdale League with Sleights the visitors. This is not an easy league to follow, it has no website and receives very scanty coverage in the Gazette, and has only ten teams. Three of the five matches were on grounds I had not previously visited and at least two of these were on my radar. My plans were disrupted for as I drove north from Sandsend my eye was caught by this sign and the sight of men in whites. A sharp uturn took me into this sporting complex where a Scarborough League Division 1 game was in progress with leaders Mulgrave hosting strugglers Wold Newton from East Yorkshire. Mulgrave were batting and rattling along: a well struck onside four actually went on the bowling green, fortunately not disturbing the woods.
This splendid pavilion was opened in 2007 and Mulgrave look a progressive outfit who seem likely to enjoy premier division cricket next season. The result is not available on the league website.
Just a quarter of an hour on and I reached Hinderwell and the ground is on the right as you enter the village. Alas this is how it looked on Saturday at 2:30, definitely not open for business. Opponents should have been second place Sleights, reason for cancellation not known.
Although I was beginning to feel that it might not be my afternoon I moved on to my next scheduled game hoping a change of leagues might do me good for Westerdale, former members of the Eskdale League, now ply their trade in the Langbaurgh, a league with a very good website and a ground Tony had promised me was well worth a visit. The village is close to the source of the Esk and the ground, which definitely lived up to its billing, is by the river.
My delight in finding cricket in progress was tempered by the scoreboard which suggested tea might not be far away. Visitors East Harsley B were batting and 34 for 8 soon became 34 for 9 in effect all out for they had only ten men. I had by this time been joined by Tony and Jennifer who had also made Eskdale the place for their Saturday cricket and had been lucky enough to find Fryup and a match in progress. When the players had had tea we were invited to enjoy a selection from what was left, still a fine spread after which we speculated how many overs it might take for top of the table Westerdale to knock off the runs. My estimate of fewer than eight proved conservative for some lusty blows, particularly from opener Carl Simpson saw them home in just 4.3 overs. Very much a family affair at Westerdale for the eleven contained Shaun, David, Jack, Stuart and Adrian all with the surname Dowson. A delightful club who seem likely to gain promotion.
The backdrop to Westerdale CC