Hats off at Hove to president Bird in another capping tale

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THE tone of voice was suitably sombre.

“Ladies and gentlemen, this is a national emergency,” came the announcement over the public address system.

“Dickie Bird has lost his cap.

“It has a white rose on it and, if you find it, he’ll be your friend for life.”

Only in county cricket could such an announcement be made while a match was in progress.

One could hardly imagine, for example, the following announcement being made during a Premier League match between Chelsea and Arsenal...

“Ladies and gentlemen, this is a national emergency.

“Roman Abramovich has lost his gloves.

“They are blue in colour and, if you find them, he’ll be your friend for life.”

No, it could only happen in county cricket – and it could probably only happen to good old Dickie.

It is not known what became of the great man’s cap – perhaps a seagull made off with it and disappeared over the Channel.

Or perhaps it got lost somewhere en route from Dickie’s home town of Barnsley on the way down to Brighton.

The possibilities are endless.

At least someone came to Dickie’s assistance by lending him a straw boater, which he wore while watching much of Saturday’s action from the committee room balcony.

It was certainly a day for headgear, with the temperature on day two touching 30 degrees.

The Yorkshire president, in fact, has previous when it comes to losing caps.

In 1975, he umpired the inaugural World Cup final between West Indies and Australia at Lord’s and, in the pitch invasion that followed West Indies’ 17-run triumph, his trademark white cap was snatched by a spectator.

A year later, Dickie was travelling on a bus in south London when he noticed that the West Indian conductor was wearing a white hat similar to the one he had lost.

As Dickie tells it, he asked the conductor where he got the hat and was informed: “Man, haven’t you heard of Mr Dickie Bird?

“This is one of his hats.

“I took it off his head at the World Cup final.

“We all ran on to the field, and I won the race.”

Hove, in fact, is not a happy hunting ground for Dickie.

He once got locked in after umpiring a match here, emerging from the shower to find that everyone had left.

“I were locked in for around five hours,” he said.

Good old Dickie.