Not to be missed ... even by a Firleite like me. Although we still won't forgive Glynde for what they got up to in the seventeenth century.
The Glynde boys are a GENUINE village cricket team, not a bunch of journeymen old pros, recruited from all over the place. And it's not only Streethouse that has a Working Men's Club. There's one in Glynde too.
Glynde & Beddingham v Streethouse
npower Village Cup Final
Gates open 10.00 am. Match starts 11.00 am.
40 overs a side.
Viscounts estate v council estate in village final - Times Online
Viscount’s estate v council estate in village final
It is the classic English contrast — North versus South, prosperity against poverty, beauty and the beast. Casual stereotyping, though, does the story an injustice. When Glynde & Beddingham meet Streethouse at Lord’s on Monday, they will reaffirm that the influence of cricket on village life has survived every changing fashion.
On the face of it, the latest finalists in the npower Village Cup have nothing in common. How could they? Glynde is the home of English opera, a haven for socialites. Streethouse is a down-at-heel former mining village, so insignificant that you will not find it on a map.
The trim, terraced cottages in Glynde belong to Viscount Hampden’s estate. Streethouse terraces are distinguished only by rows of satellite dishes. Glynde stages a Food & Drink Festival next weekend, while Streethouse’s gourmet ambitions extend no farther than the Chip & Buttie café. Glynde has an alpaca farm, Streethouse a working men’s club with graffiti on the walls.
Their only link is cricket, specifically its power to inspire pride and unite a community. In Glynde, near Lewes in East Sussex, it has kept a group of talented youngsters together against every sporting and monetary blandishment. Streethouse are more a case of old friends reunited. Both teams have as their axis a worldly, authoritative captain who came for a season and stayed for many.
Despite the ravishing South Downs setting, Glynde’s players are not toffs and dilettantes but earthy tradesmen. Ironically, their only white-collar professional, an IT expert, is also their only non-local — Mark Beddis comes from opposition territory in Hull.
Streethouse is hidden amid the post-industrial conurbations where unemployment remains rife and rugby league is king. Featherstone is a mile to one side, Wakefield two miles the other.
A river runs serenely past Glynde’s picture-perfect ground, the Ouse lapping up six-hits on a regular basis, just as it has done since 1885. Streethouse is bisected by the level crossing of a suburban railway and it was in the Station pub, now lying derelict and boarded up, that the idea of a village side took root in 1962.
Streethouse had played cricket before, but on a colliery ground to which the stationmaster had to open the gates. It fell into disrepair, the club dying with it. A few former players, musing over pints of beer, decided to reform the club. They can scarcely have imagined what would follow.
A four-acre swamp was bought and drained, and a small brick pavilion built by volunteers whose labours produced an odd gait they nicknamed the “Streethouse Shuffle”. For five years, the new team — including seven rugby league professionals — played every game away. Then the miracle was born.
Preconceptions will inevitably mislead as you drive down unassuming Whinney Lane, the single main road through Streethouse. Bear left before the railway, take care over the ruts and a staggeringly verdant scene awaits — a billiard-table outfield, neat pavilion, modern scorebox, timber benches. It is like entering a different world.
At the centre of this world is the Rhodes family. Paul is chairman, Graham tends the ground and their sister, Pam Brabbs, is secretary. They all live in Whinney Lane, their houses overlooking the ground where the next two generations of Rhodes, Martin and Gary, are key players.
Paul Rhodes grew up on one of Streethouse’s two council estates. “You had to look after yourself there,” he said. “When the pits closed in the 1950s, it was devastating — there were 70 per cent unemployed. This club has given the village a new focus.”
It was Martin Rhodes who was responsible for bringing Richard Vigars to Streethouse. They were best pals from a way back, before Vigars went off and played in the Lancashire second XI of John Crawley and Ronnie Irani. “Martin asked if I’d come here just for a year in 1998,” Vigars explained. “But I never thought of leaving. It’s such a family environment.”
Vigars is a Londoner who moved to Yorkshire aged 10. He lives a mile from the ground, runs his own cricket equipment business and leads Streethouse by influence and example. Nine times in his 11 years they have won the Pontefract league. “He’s a natural motivator,” Paul Rhodes said. “If you don’t pull your weight, you’re soon told. But they’d do anything for RV.”
If Vigars lacks Yorkshire vowels, his opposite number at Lord’s does not speak with the public school drawl one might expect of Glynde. Adam Davies has spent most of his life in Australia. Seven years ago, his cousin enticed him back to his native village.
“I just fancied a season here,” he said. “I’m a plasterer and I worked at Glyndebourne for the summer. For the next four years, I followed the summer, commuting between here and Melbourne. But Glynde was a magnet. I got married here, with a marquee on the cricket ground. This is a special place.”
At 30, Davies is elder statesman in a team with an average age of 23 — Streethouse, by comparison, average 32. A photo in Glynde’s quaint pavilion shows the under-16 side who won the Sussex championship in 2003. Six of that team are now first-XI regulars playing in the second tier of Sussex club cricket. “The boys are all best friends who happen to play cricket together,” Davies said.
Both finalists pride themselves on thriving youth sections and a Corinthian ethic. “No one gets paid, we have no overseas players and we’ve never brought in players just for the Village Cup,” Davies insists.
Vigars concurs. “We play for nothing — but if these players were in the Central Yorkshire League, it would be a 40-grand-a-year team,” he says.
Glynde will take five coachloads of supporters to London. Streethouse, a village of fewer than 2,000 people, will virtually empty. Some of the players have never visited Lord’s. Most will surely never play there again. But no matter which side prevail, both have already played their part in perpetuating a way of sporting life that many considered extinct.