'It’s been very hard': Dickie Bird opens up about his lockdown 'ordeal' as he marks 88th birthday

Yorkshire cricketing legend Dickie Bird has opened up about his ordeal throughout the lockdown as he marks his 88th birthday week, Ruth Dacey reports.

Yorkshire cricketing legend Dickie Bird has opened up about his ordeal throughout the lockdown as he marks his 88th birthday week. Photo credit: JPIMedia
Yorkshire cricketing legend Dickie Bird has opened up about his ordeal throughout the lockdown as he marks his 88th birthday week. Photo credit: JPIMedia

Despite having a “very enjoyable” day on Monday - when the former Test cricket umpire enjoyed a birthday meal at the Three Acres Inn and Restaurant in Huddersfield with friends, he said the past 13 months have been the toughest period of his life.

Speaking from his South Yorkshire home, Dickie said he had been particularly affected as he has been on his own in his 17th century cottage, named White Rose, which has been his home for more than 50 years.

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He said he had suffered from two “bad” falls this year including one on Tuesday this week, when he tripped over his carpet and fell down on the floor leaving his left eye swollen.

“When you fall down at my age, it’s very difficult to get up off the floor,” he told The Yorkshire Post.

The familiar face to cricket fans the world over, who batted alongside Sir Geoffrey Boycott and Sir Michael Parkinson at Barnsley Cricket Club, said he had been shielding for the past 13 months, and has only been outside to exercise in his garden or go for “long walks” in the nearby countryside.

He added neighbours had helped him during the challenging time by delivering food.

He said: “It’s been very, very hard. I went through the Second World War and I know that was very hard and very difficult for people, but this pandemic has been very, very hard indeed.”

Dickie, who was born in Barnsley in 1933 and played cricket for Yorkshire and Leicestershire, said his life has changed immeasurably since the coronavirus lockdown.

He has “greatly missed” being able to watch Yorkshire County Cricket Club at Headingley or head down to Oakwell Stadium to watch his “beloved” Barnsley Football Club.

“I’ve missed my cricket and my football and the excitement that goes with the games,” he said. "I’m looking forward to when I can go to Headingly again - the cricket will bring people together. The times have been so very very difficult."

Dickie said to help his wellbeing, he does an hour-long exercise programme in his garden — including arm stretches, jogging on the spot — and goes on 90-minute walks.

A clip of the legendary umpire showing off his work-outs on local television last month has been shared on social media and has been watched more than 1.2 million times.

“It has kept me mentally sane,” he said. “I would advise all elderly people - to try and get out into the fresh air, don’t sit in the house all day long looking at the four walls.

"You’ve got to try and get out and try and move. If you can walk get out and walk and walk and walk."

But Dickie, said he is "hopeful" for the future after he received his second Covid-19 vaccination four weeks ago.

He said: "It felt like a relief what shot through my body - I felt so relieved and I would advise everybody to have the vaccine.

"It’s the only light I can see at the end of the tunnel. That’s what has given me hope.

"There’s not been many highlights through the pandemic - but the vaccine coming out has been tremendous for people."

Dickie, who umpired in 66 Test matches plus one-day internationals and World Cup finals and was awarded the OBE, added his "own highlight" was the kindness shown by the public.

This included receiving a special birthday hair cut by David Charles, who lives in a village close to Tadcaster, in Dickie's garden yesterday, (21 April), which made him feel “25 years younger”.

Dickie added previously he had attempted to cut his own hair which "didn't go down well".

He said: "David did it as a birthday gift. The thought was very kind wasn’t it.

"When he first saw me he said it 'really needs cutting' and he could tell I'd been trying to do it myself. So not only was it very long but also a mess!"

"When he showed me in the mirror at the end it made me look about 25 years younger."


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