A mis-spent youth or the best start in life? By Lisa Mason
To a little girl, Carlton Cricket Club was huge with standing room only, full of people who were larger than life, smoke and laughter. As a toddler I'd watch in amazement as Ronnie Ward played the piano. I'd stand on a chair while Ken Clayborough made everyone sing me happy birthday (he never once forgot). Bonfire night, Christmas and New Years Eve fancy dress - "What were you wearing when the ship went down?" Boxing Day, turkey sandwiches and the infamous Boat Race!
In the days when Wham were in the charts and I was wearing ra-ra skirts, Carlton was top of its game and won most weekends. Through naive eyes it seemed we just had to show up to win in those days! I'd get a weekly master class in cricket teas by Winne, Audrey, Muriel and Jenny. "Leave that sugar bowl alone and come and grate the cheese!" My "cricket club big sister" took me under her wing - showed me how to do a perfect french plait, get ready for cricket club dinners and introduced me to Whitney Houston.
Big crowds and packed grounds - what an amazing time to be a Carlton supporter. Local derbys with Colton, Whitkirk, Great Preston littered my scoring career. Ambulances at the Caribbean's when the bowling got a bit rough. Games with no "tins man" and score books with too much Tippex! Welcoming the first overseas players. How controversial! "It's Radio Leeds on the phone - what's the score?" Always being nervous to watch my dad and brother bat and bowl! But being proud of their achievements, and those of my granddad, as they played and umpired for the club they loved.
The club never disappointed for entertainment value. The Fox family became resident experts on the machines - me on Donkey Kong, Grandma Winnie on the fruit machine ("Collect Grandma, collect") Waiting patiently for Brian to change the music on the juke box. Mr & Mrs with Gillian Stocks (you really HAD to be there!) Playing Hare and Hounds when the sun went down and playing whist on a school night with the OAPs!
Watching young love blossom, some which has lasted until today! Sumo wrestling, celebrating pretend weddings with bar mat confetti. The annual Harvest Festival with Amaranth - 39 1/2p for a peony! 23 planning meetings for each cricket club holiday! Voluntary bar duty, Blastaways with an "extra kick"and home made rhubarb wine at Gordon and Pat's on the way home!
Mis-spent? Hardly. I wouldn't change a thing. Here's to another 150 years of Carlton Cricket Club and bringing people together.