Dave’s Diary

This is an exciting and busy time of year for the all-round sports fan, made more so by live satellite images from all over the world. On any particular day, you can be watching cricket from India or South Africa, golf from the USA, and rugby from just about everywhere. I am not remotely interested in soccer; if I was, I don’t know how I would fit it all in.

The rugby alone sees the climax of the northern hemisphere season, at all levels; there is a Women’s Six Nations going on and last weekend I watched England beat Wales in the Under 18 (men’s) tournament, which is being played in France. I found this, live, on You Tube. I also watched Sale Sharks v Bristol Bears, comfortably the worst game of the season.

For me, the club rugby season is just beginning to drag a little. Time was, when the season started on the first Saturday in September, and ended on the last Saturday in April, and that was it, absolutely. To assist the club fixture secretaries, each Saturday was assigned a number. The four in September were 1, 2, 3 and 4, and the four in March for example were 25, 26, 27 and 28. Where there were five Saturdays in a month – always two per season – they would be labelled X1 for September, through to X8 for April, making exactly 34 in total.

It was normal practice, back then, to confirm next season’s fixture immediately following this season’s one, a quick note (by snail mail!) confirming “Week 10 next season, okay? 1st & 3rd & Colts at Sedge, 2nd & 4th with you?” It was easy to do, but difficult to improve your fixture list, because everyone else had traditional fixtures, too. Sometimes, the note would bear the dread news that you had been ‘dropped’. One year, I sent the regular confirmation to Wigan RUFC and received a phone call in reply. “Dave Clarke, Wigan Rugby Club here. We’re not playing you next season. We’ve found someone better to play. Goodbye.” Exactly that. I didn’t even speak!

It happened the other way round with Selby Rugby Club. We had always had good games with Selby, and we enjoyed their perfect pitch, back in the days when ours was deep and clinging mud. What I hadn’t realised, was that there were problems lower down. One Saturday at Sedgley, there was a huge punch-up in the 3rd XV game, visible to all, because then we had two smallish pitches where today we have just the one big one.

Investigation revealed that Jem Keith had been kicked in the head, only a couple of minutes into the game. “It’s the same every time we play them,” John Garvey told me. I sent a formal letter to their Hon Fix Sec asking them to comment, and all I got was a reply that the referee had been rubbish. We got nowhere over the next few weeks and, in the end, I sent the letter: “The Committee of Sedgley Park RUFC has instructed me to inform you that there will be no further fixtures between our Clubs.”

Well, that’s all in the past, forgiven if not forgotten. “Unborn tomorrow, and dead yesterday, why fret about them, if today be sweet?” as a great poet remarked. And today is sweet. For me, the start of a new cricket season is a long-awaited event, and while Sedge are playing the Students from Loughborough, I will be down in Bristol, watching great Yorkshire take on Gloucestershire. I am hoping to turn up to the game at Huddersfield, which looks more inviting than four days in Northampton.

Otherwise, my rugby season is pretty well over. What about Huddersfield’s amazing win over Rotherham? Only sport can do this. I’ll let Edward Fitzgerald* have the last word:


Ah, fill the Cup – what boots it to repeat

How the World is slipping underneath our Feet?

Unborn Tomorrow, and dead Yesterday,

Why fret about them, if Today be sweet?



*From Edward Fitzgerald’s masterful mid-19th century translation of the Persian classis “Rubai Yat of Omar Khayyam”