To my shame, I cannot remember the name of this chap, only that his gesture was incredibly generous and much appreciated. Perhaps he already had a copy from each year in question, or perhaps he simply thought that I needed educating.
Either way, he brought a box full of books to one of the games, and all I had to do was to lift it into the boot of my car. Job done.
Since then, I have always collected and cherished the Yorkshire yearbook, which is the club’s answer to Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack, the cricketers’ bible, both in terms of its excellent hardback presentation and its meat, with the latest edition still running to 450 pages despite the pandemic-hit summer of 2020.
Now edited by Graham Hardcastle, the only other journalist who covers Yorkshire’s games at home and away, and who is thus condemned to put up with me in press boxes from Chester-le-Street to Cardiff and all points between (how he does this, I have no idea), it is always a quality collection of features, comment pieces, book reviews, scorecards, records, and so on, with the records section particularly useful in a practical sense when covering the matches.
That section itself runs to a good 200 pages, although Graham will still hear me grumbling from time to time – in jest, of course – that it seems to contain every record apart from the one that I am actually seeking at any given moment.
What particularly impresses me about the latest edition just out, which includes a special feature by Graham on the famed Yorkshire production line, is a section at the back of the book specifically dedicated to the Yorkshire members, such as the one who introduced me to the yearbook all those years ago.
Entitled ‘Salute To The Members’, it is 20 pages that simply lists many of those members and supporters who dedicated their membership and season-ticket fees for 2020, ranging from £35 to £245, saving the club around £600,000.
Not every member is listed as some preferred to stay anonymous, but it is a roll call of honour that highlights the collective love for the club from what I would say, without equivocation, are the best and most knowledgeable members in the land.
That is not blowing smoke up posteriors, so to speak, but a genuine belief that the Yorkshire membership remains something very special, even if its size has shrunk from the early 1960s from when my own collection of yearbooks begins.
The loyalty and pride of those members never ceases to amaze, and it helps to give the club much of its lustre and stature even today. Yorkshire remains a byword for cricketing interest and knowledge, and it has always been one of the great joys of this job to rub shoulders with members at games around the country, with the friendly faces happily outnumbering those inclined to protest: “Oi, Waters, what were that roobish you wrote t’other day in t’paper, lad?”
One has great respect for them because they are the lifeblood of cricket. They also appreciate the traditional game in a way that few running the sport actually do.
Those supporters have had it tough in the last 15 months. For many, the loss of cricket has resulted in the severing of important social contact, and that Yorkshire CCC appreciates them was emphasised last year when chief executive Mark Arthur and director of cricket Martyn Moxon made a point of ringing people to check on their welfare.
How great now to see the Yorkshire members back inside grounds, even if not quite yet in maximum numbers. They bring knowledge, wisdom, colour and, of course, great humour to the games.
The players, too, appreciate their contribution. Many have said how it has not been the same without the members there, and it was telling that Lockie Ferguson, the New Zealand fast bowler who is the club’s T20 overseas player, said how impressed he was that the members and supporters had donated their fees.
“I heard last year that the fans still bought their season tickets because they wanted to support the club, and I think that’s amazing,” said Ferguson. “Obviously, they are very close to the club and want to leave their money in to make sure they are sound for the years going forwards.”
So let us join this ‘Salute To The Members’, as the Yorkshire yearbook puts it, one great Yorkshire cricketing institution honouring another.