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The Horror ..............the horror ..................
Posted by: Andrew Dow
Date: 29/07/2020 15:08
I first visited Lord’s when I was about 8, and sometimes spent entire weeks there in the ‘70’s when we played a county championship match, then John Player League game on Sunday, finish off the county game then another county game straight afterwards. It was a scruffy place then, with the old Grandstand like a large stable block, with the scorebox in the middle. It was homely. I sat on the grass when Kent beat Lancashire in about 1973 in the Gillette.

I fell in love with Phil Edmonds' beautiful flowing action there in 1974, against Yorkshire, and became a devotee and through him a Middlesex supporter.

I liked the new Mound Stand, could live with the new non standing Tavern, and loved the new Grand Stand, from where I had a brilliant side on view as Simon Jones on debut beat Sehwag purely for pace, and sent his stump joyously cartwheeling end over end over end, one sweltering Summer evening after Vaughan had completed a beautiful century in the morning. I saw the media centre as a triumph of design and technology. The old Compton and Edrich stands were good if you were in the upper tiers, where a gang could assemble, each sitting slightly at an angle so that you could participate in the general chit chat but also keep an eye on the cricket, while Posh Margaret remonstrated with Kev, and Beefy and Seaxe Man kept us in order, but the lower deck on a hot day at the Test was an inner circle of hell.

I saw KP’s defiant second innings half century on debut, and him drop a sitter at point, I saw the day of “that” no ball, and Stuart Broad’s century knock, and then there were four epic still September days in 2016, ending with that joyous outpouring of unadulterated joy.

Sometime during all this, Lord’s became the “Home of Cricket”. I had grown fond of it.

My walk to Church Street yesterday took me through the St Johns Wood roundabout and then down past Lord’s.

This gave me my first hand sight of the new Compton and Edrich stands, albeit not from the ground up.

I was not best pleased when I heard that the trees at the back were to go, and this had been hustled through as soon as possible, once all possible objections in memory of Gubby Allen had been dissolved. How long had they been there? Did they not make Lord’s that little more a cricket ground, and less part of the metropolis?

These new stands murderously dominate the skyline from the far side of the roundabout. They stand as ghastly, charmless, unyielding slabs, towering over the “Play Up, play up” mural on the corner. They lower, menace and intimidate, as uncompromising blocks. They block the view of the western skies.

As I continued, the full horror sank in. In profile, these horrible, orc-like structures that squat over the Nursery End, showing their behinds to St Johns Wood. Whoever gave planning permission for these atrocities, I hope they got a good bung.

And with these nasty , brutal additions to the ground, and fast tracking however many new members to access the debenture seats and help pay for them, M.C.C. has revealed itself. It has changed from crusty establishment custodian of the Laws of Cricket, with the preservation of the game at its heart. Did they really need the money? Will it stop them putting the price of tickets for the paying punter up? What do you think? They have joined all the other corporate greedheads, no further interested in the legacy of the game than it can be marketed and leveraged.
Will the secretary turn out to an earnest, book’ish guy, blinking from behind his spectacles, who cares about cricket, or a vulgar hustler, as trashy and money driven as a newly minted ‘70’s Texas oil millionaire? “Hey, Rube, wanna see some cricket?” – “Gonna cost ya.” “How much can we bleed ya dry for?” “Mmmmmm, yeah, feel that sweaty cash, brother. Yeah, feel the legacy, you paid enough for it. We don’t care about it. Stack a few more in at the top, there, y’ hear? Make sure y'all exit through the gift shop”.

Lord's has become just another sports ground. And whatever I felt for the old place has just died.

I walked back along the canal to spare myself.

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