Club Cricket Conference

Friday, 20th September 2019

Yellowing history highlights Goole's Trueman dilemma

Personal View:  Charles Randall

12 December 2018


When I took up the underlay of a carpet in our utility room recently, an old copy of the Daily Mail revealed itself like an ancient treasure at a newly discovered Egyptian tomb. The date was Friday, September 14, 1962, with Goole Town CC mentioned on the back page.

The cricket story was a column filler of four short paragraphs about Fred Trueman and a benefit match for him at Goole, due to be played that Sunday. Trueman must have informed the Yorkshire club that he could not attend in person, prompting the organisers to cancel the event - with some reluctance, one would imagine.

Trueman was upset about the "attitude" of Goole Town CC, which denied his fund £100, presumably the amount guaranteed.  How much would that be worth nowadays? A bottle of Crawford's scotch was advertised on the same page at 41/6, just over two quid, so that Goole must have promised at least a thousand pounds.

A miffed Trueman was quoted. "I'm sorry they decided to take this attitude," he said. "Still, if they think it a crime for me to snatch a brief break with my family on the eve of a long separation, that's too bad." The story was printed just before England's forthcoming tour of Australia, and the Yorkshire fast bowler would have needed his holiday in Jersey with wife and baby.

The yellowing Daily Mail left the reader to decide what was fair and whether Goole Town had been reasonable towards one of England's great servants. One can be fairly certain that players in the current era would not expect to gain financially without turning up.

I do not believe the benefit system was designed for successful international players in any case. For example,  Graham Gooch was awarded two very lucrative benefit years at Essex. Top players have long been well rewarded, thanks to immense earning power off the field. But that is another issue.

The newspaper, in mid-September, showed that the county season had finished, Yorkshire having taken back the championship title from Hampshire, and the only mention of cricket was the Goole Town story, plus a Cross Arrows score at Lord's, recording Donald Carr's 5-29 in a 70-run win over Esher.

Perhaps the most interesting sports item concerned football. An interview by Brian James with Alf Ramsey, Ipswich Town's manager, did not hint that Ramsey would be confirmed as England's manager by an FA letter just over a month later. Perhaps the journalist had been tipped off about the man to succeed Walter Winterbottom.

Ramsey had taken a newly promoted Ipswich to their maiden top tier title the previous season, a feat emulated only by Brian Clough's Nottingham Forest since then. Few people would have expected England to win the World Cup in 1966.

James asked Ramsey what the national team must have to achieve success.

Ramsey replied: "Three things - good players, understanding and determination. I am sure England still have plenty of good players. Understanding? By that I mean the ability to play together to a set method that could be built up. And the willpower and determination must be found."

Ramsey later became the first England manager to insist he alone would be responsible for  team selection and tactics. "Like a club manager, if he fails he must be replaced," he added.

James said that Ramsey often used the term "rigid method" in his time at Ipswich, and he asked: "Do you believe it is essential for really good players to have a set plan?"

Ramsey: "I certainly do. I have heard it said, as you must have, that England once had great players - Matthews, Finney, Carter and so on - and that they never needed a plan. Well, I played with many of these players and I would say England's team was good then, but it would have been many times better if we had also had a rigid plan. Remember, many of the 'great' players were in England's 1950 World Cup team. But the fact is, even then, they couldn't score against the United States or Spain. And football has become even more advanced and complicated even since then."

Ramsey talked about players being given more time to prepare for internationals  by their clubs, even if it meant cutting back the league programme. He said he thought England could win the 1966 World Cup if players were rested and prepared.

Later, as England's manager and sole selector, he predicted with some certainty that his charges would win the cup, and he introduced his wing-less "rigid method" to widespread surprise. After taking England to World Cup glory, he received a knighthood the following year.

The Daily Mail page two reported President Kennedy as saying that the invasion of Cuba at the  Bay of Pigs had not been militarily required or justified. The intervention had been regarded as a shambles.

Ramsey's eminence, the World Cup final at Wembley and Kennedy's 1963 assassination were all in the future. Many years later, in 2018,  the FA letter confirming Ramsey's appointment as manager was auctioned for £3,400, and Goole Town,  sponsored by Tesco,  finished fourth in the York & District League Division One.