At almost exactly the same time that Luis Suarez refused to shake Patrice Evra’s hand, I was offered the same sign of friendship by someone I hadn’t seen for almost ten years. I took it and shook it gladly.
Dave Smith and his wife Sue bumped into us in Meadowhall on Saturday lunchtime. I was there for a follow up eye test. Dave was there because his golf course was frozen. A serendipitous meeting then, with lots of smiles and “good to see you”s.
I’ve known Dave all my life. Our parents have always been close, with our fathers being best friends from Thurcroft in Rotherham. They grew up playing cricket together and eventually introduced both Dave and I to the village team. It’s fair to say that my Dad was the stronger cricketer, but in that respect Dave certainly surpassed me. He was a fine attacking batsman who could take a bowling attack apart when he was in the mood.
Dave was Captain of the 1st team for several years until he passed the reins to me for one year before I decided to give the game a rest. The only time I think we’ve met since was on the sad occasion of his Dad’s funeral. A cricket fanatic, the vicar commented that Ken would have been smiling down from heaven that day with the news that England had won a Test Match in Australia. Cricket runs very deeply in us.
But since I drifted from the game, I haven’t been back to Thurcroft much, so having caught up on the past ten years, I had a momentary pang of guilt about packing the game in. I have missed some of the camaraderie, the laughs and shared victories. A cricket club in a village like Thurcroft is a community in its own right, and so many others have drifted away too that the club is a shadow of what it was.
It was great to see Dave and to shake his hand. We parted, assured that our families are well and our obsessions are intact. I hope to see him again with less of a time gap.
Saturday was a pretty good day all round, apart from the four hours when my pupils were so dilated as a result of the eye test that I felt the sunlight would burn my brain. I kept wondering if it would make me stunningly attractive too, but I have little evidence.
We started with an early morning bag-packing session at the local Morrisons, collecting money for Tom’s football team. Then it was a quick trip to Chapeltown library – a fantastic local facility which is very well used – before our visit to Meadowhall. In the late afternoon I dropped Nicola off at Caroline and Richard’s before Richard and their son Leo joined Thomas, Jake and I on a Cubs pack trip to see the Sheffield Steelers ice hockey team win a close match against the Coventry Blaze.
* If you’re feeling a little dismayed with the game of football in England at the moment, have a read of an article which David Rawson, a fellow Rotherham fan, drew my attention to on Twitter at the weekend. I think it just about sums it all up.