The Lancastrian appetite to bask in the County Championship triumph that had been 77 years in the making shows no sign of being sated. Even before the official account of the 2011 season was launched at Old Trafford this week, the publishers had already received enough advance orders to require a reprint.
“Champions…about blooming time” (Max Books, £16.99, firstname.lastname@example.org) has been rushed out in time for Christmas. As one journalist tweeted this week: “An ideal present either for relatives who love Lancashire, or people in Yorkshire you don’t like very much.”
It’s been written by Chris Ostick and Graham Hardcastle, who have shared coverage of all Lancashire’s matches for the last six seasons in the Manchester Evening News – a newspaper whose editorial decision-makers should also be recognised for their ongoing commitment to county cricket.
They have dusted off and freshened up their reports of each of Lancashire’s 16 matches, and also written profiles of each of the 17 players who contributed, plus coach Peter Moores and his support staff. There are forewords by Roy Tattersall, a key figure in the 1950 team who shared the title with Surrey, and also Jack Simmons and Andrew Flintoff.
Paul Edwards, who has reported for the Liverpool Daily Post among others, provides a fitting alternative view of a season spent mostly at Aigburth with enjoyable diversions to Blackpool and Southport, the latter his local club. There are dozens of pictures of the Taunton celebrations alone – the authors, and Lancashire, were lucky that the team were followed throughout the summer by Simon Pendrigh, who has provided 95% of the photographs for the book.
There are also reflections of the financial uncertainty that formed the background to Lancashire’s triumph, before they finally fought off the opposition to the redevelopment of Old Trafford, and secured a 2013 Ashes Test. That is the dominant theme of a tribute to Jim Cumbes, the long-serving chief executive, although he also provides a couple of typically offbeat anecdotes.
After speculating on future career options including driving a tram and working in a zoo, the former Aston Villa goalkeeper reflects on that dramatic and excruciating last afternoon at Taunton, which he followed from Old Trafford having decided not to make the journey to Somerset. “It was on TV in the offices,” Cumbes recalls, “and by 4pm there must have been 25 people there watching – and one giraffe.”
Cumbes does not explain why Lanky, the club mascot, was present at Old Trafford on a Thursday afternoon in September. But the Reverend Malcolm Lorimer, the club chaplain and historian who has published the book, must have been tempted to change the title to “25 People and a Giraffe”.
Reverend Lorimer teed up Ostick and Hardcastle to work on the book in April, when most people were tipping Lancashire for relegation. “In my line of work, you have to have faith,” he explained at the launch, which was attended by most of the players who are already back in full training for their 2012 title defence. “But I must admit, it was tested at times.”
The county have also launched a double DVD, Lancashire’s Magical Season – available from the club shop at £15, reduced to £12 for members – featuring match coverage, interviews, the eventful trip to Buckingham Palace to meet the Duke of Edinburgh, and even commentary from Gordon Burns, formerly of The Krypton Factor. Sorry, Yorkies, but these celebrations are going to last a while yet.