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Stemming the tide in Scarborough

Throwback Thursday


Stemming the tide in Scarborough Sussex rightly regard their two out-ground cricket weeks at Arundel and Horsham highly, but the most popular festival in the country still takes place at Scarborough, where Sussex will be centre stage from Friday battling it out with County Championship leaders Yorkshire.

Weekend crowds at North Marine Road are comfortably expected to top 5,000 as holidaymakers and cricket lovers flock to the seaside ground. Can Sussex upset the title favourites? It will be a tall order and their record in a county that used to stage cricket at up to six different grounds every summer is not great.

It’s only in the last 15 years or so that Sussex have started winning in Yorkshire on a reasonably regular basis, anywhere. Last year’s victory was their fourth at Headingley in Leeds since 1999, the others coming in 2002 and 2006, when Sussex were on their way to the Championship for the second time.

It is now 23 years since Sussex beat the Tykes away from Headingley. That was back in 1991 when Alan Wells scored an extraordinary 253 not out at Acklam Park in Middlesbrough, a ground that staged county games for 40 years from 1956 and where Geoffrey Boycott scored his 150th hundred.

Further back in the mists of time, Sussex have won at Dewsbury (1891), Bradford Park Avenue (1903), Bramall Lane, Sheffield (1907) – the ground the cricketers shared with Sheffield United Football Club until the 1980s – The Circle at Hull (1933) and Bradford again in 1947. It was another 19 years before the county triumphed on Yorkshire soil in 1966.

These days, Scarborough is the only out-ground used by Yorkshire, which explains its enduring popularity. It would certainly be a good time for Sussex to enjoy their first ever success there.

Tommy Cook

Tommy Cook: A real all-rounder

Throwback Thursday


Tommy Cook: A real all-rounder

Hard to believe that at the height of the cricket season that football kicks off this Saturday with two Sussex’s professional clubs, Brighton & Hove Albion and Crawley Town, starting their Football League campaigns.

With the seasons overlapping so much, and football - at the highest level at least - awash with money, it might come as a surprise that as recently as the 1970s there were still a few sportsmen playing both football and cricket at professional level.

Chris Balderstone famously did both on a September day in 1975. He scored an unbeaten 51 on the second day of a Championship game for Leicestershire against Derbyshire at Chesterfield, got changed and then drove 30 miles to Doncaster to play for the Rovers in a 1-1 draw against Brentford. Next day, he put the cricket whites on again to complete his hundred!

Perhaps the most famous cricketer-footballer in Sussex was Cuckfield-born Tommy Cook. After making his Sussex debut in 1922 he went on to play 460 games over the next 15 years, scoring more than 20,000 runs. He also took 80 wickets with his medium-pace bowling.

He was also a good enough footballer for Brighton and Hove Albion to win selection for England, as a Third Division player, in 1925. He started life as a central defender but was converted to striker and scored 123 goals in 209 games. He was Albion’s top scorer for three seasons in the 1920s.

He was a hero in both world wars, first in the Royal Navy, where he was decorated, then in the South African Air Force, where he sustained serious injuries in 1943 in an air crash that killed all of his colleagues.

He had moved to South Africa in 1929 to take up a coaching position but when the war ended he returned to Sussex and had a brief spell as Albion’s manager. He was unable to show the same ability as he had on the pitch and was sacked after a demonstrations by supporters.

His injuries in the war had wounded him both physically and mentally. He suffered from depression and in 1949, ten days before his 49th birthday, he took his own life.

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