A READER emailed the other day wanting to know if Sam Northeast was the first Yorkshire player to have had a stand named after him at Headingley before he had played a single match.
Thank you to Tim Sanders for making me chuckle, with Northeast set for a warm welcome from the patrons of the North East Stand in particular, no doubt, when he makes his home debut in the County Championship game against Lancashire that starts tomorrow.
“PS: Fred (Trueman) will be turning in his grave,” wrote Mr Sanders. “‘I had to take 1,745 wickets before they named a stand after me…’”
Trueman, indeed, was a relatively recent addition to Headingley’s archetectural nomenclature.
In 2010, the Trueman Enclosure was officially opened by his widow, Veronica, and son, Rodney, on the site of the old Wintershed Lower Stand.
It was a nice touch by a club that cannot possibly honour all of its great players, given that there are so many of them, but there have been few, if any, greater than Trueman.
A personal opinion is that Yorkshire should have renamed that end of the ground The Fred Trueman End after his death 15 years ago this month.
After all, he did use to charge down the hill from that Kirkstall Lane side on his way to pinning his opponents “t’bloody sightscreen”.
However, the “Trueman Enclosure” is nevertheless a big step up from what Fred himself thought that the club might do in his memory.
“If they name owt after me, sunshine,” he used to say through plumes of pipe smoke, “they’ll probably call it the “Trueman S***house”.
The abundance of great players who Yorkshire could honour, from Boycott to Verity, from Hirst to Rhodes, is so long that you would probably need 10 Headingley stadiums to do them all justice.
It perhaps explains why Headingley, when you think about it, has some pretty prosaic stand names, with the East Stand and West Stand vying with the North East Stand in the vapidity stakes.
Yorkshire have never had anyone called “East”, incidentally, who has represented them in first-class cricket, and who could thereby claim – or whose descendants could claim on his behalf – that the stand was actually named after him, which would make for a nice after-dinner tale perhaps.
They did have a David Eastwood, but as he played only 29 games (591 runs at 12; 11 wickets at 31) and has been dead for 118 years, Yorkshire would not have named a hatstand after him – let alone a stand.
Yorkshire have had a “West”, a John West and contemporary of David Eastwood, whose 38-match career was also unremarkable (461 runs at nine; 53 wickets at 16).
Yorkshire, of course, have found other ways to honour their galaxy of great players, with many having had suites named after them at Headingley and also rooms at the onsite hotel.
There is also The Sir Leonard Hutton Gates, of course, and The Sutcliffe Gates, and who could forget the Dickie Bird Clock?
“It’ll be there until the end of time,” quipped Dickie at the official unveiling. Quite right too, Dickie, quite right.