Club cricket followers come in many shapes, sizes and species. Here are a few archetypes to look out for.
THE OLD BOYS
No one remembers a time when the crew of long-toothed committee men weren’t meeting up on the boundary’s edge and propping up the bar all afternoon. Be warned though: they all like to watch from a particular spot on a particular bench – and will defend their territory like slow-moving, grey-haired panthers. If you’re going to spend the day bemoaning the idiocy of the home team’s batting/bowling/field placings, you want a familiar seat to do it from.
THE REALLY OLD BOY
A lone spectator but a devoted one: every week without fail he inches up to the boundary with his neat slacks and his walking stick. As much a part of the landscape as the grand old Oak tree in the corner of the ground. No one knows just how old either really is.
THE CRICKET WIDOWED
The WAGs and HABs come in various hues: while some love the game their partner pursues and enjoy an afternoon outside, even offering polite patters of applause, others will sit staring moodily at their phone – resolutely away from the throng – before insisting on departure the second the match concludes.
THE LOOSE-END LADS
A more occasional spectacle, but a nice, simple formula: one player’s group of mates with not much to do on a sunny day, and a massive crate of lukewarm tinnies. Removing themselves to some usually unvisited area of the ground, they grow increasingly vocal as the afternoon wears on to everyone’s entertainment/exhaustion. The lad they’re there to see feels like a superstar as the horde raucously cheer his every touch of the ball – even if it’s just passing it through the field between deliveries.
THE MAN’S BEST FRIEND
Many’s the team with a regular canine visitor who becomes an honorary mascot. And the mutt loves it: there’s room to roam around and everyone makes a fuss… and yet still it can’t resist the urge to hold up the game by running across the outfield and doing its business on a length.
It’s great that other players’ kids love the game and constantly want throw-downs or catches or someone to bowl at/bend the ear of, but when their precocious joshing extends to heckling you on your way off after a duck, you start to take a more Victorian view of childcare. Lovely to see the development of the team’s next generation, of course. Just don’t come near me when I’m angry and holding a bat.
THE EARLY FINISHERS
“What are they doing back already!?” It’s always nice to see members of other teams in your club arriving back at base to show some support rather than naffing straight off after their game. But when they turn up with the afternoon barely begun, you know for sure that one team or the other in their match has been skittled. And you can normally tell from their body language which it was. Still, even if they were rolled for less than 50, at least they can still distract their clubmates’ boundary fielders when a steepling catch goes up to make amends.