November 16, 2008

Bellingham's Noble Street Kids: Cricket's Original Ashes

Northumberland Farming History - a village childhood remembered.

By Clive Dalton

The Noble Street nettie shared by Davidsons( No 5) & Daltons (No 6). When visited in 200o it had been made into a feature with cat entrance! On the left of the nettie was the ash pit with its solid walls & rounded coping stones. There were two ventilation slits high up on each side wall.

In summer, the green area behind the Noble Street houses was our cricket pitch but it had two problems. One was the slope, which forced you to pitch the ball at the batsman on the high side of the hill, to allow for an inswing doon the hill.

The other problem was the ash pit, which was attached to the 'nettie' (Geordie word for toilet). It was not the most savoury of places to have to climb in and out of, as when the toilet was full, and a little door over the hole removed, it was emptied into the ash pit, into which over the period of a month or so, was home for the ashes from the fires and any other rubbish we had.

We dealt with this problem by making a simple rule that if you hit the ball into the ash pit, not only were ye oot, but ye had te gan in and get the baall oot!

If Joe or Kit Maughan had not been to empty it for a while, and cart it away to the frog ponds, then this could be a bit unsavoury to say the least, but it helped shape your future directional play.

We Daltons had cricket bats of sorts (one large and one small), which my father who worked on the railway at Redesmouth had made by the railway joiner (Phillip Wood). They were made of some tropical hard wood and you could hardly lift them.

We were lucky enough to have some old hairless tennis balls from cousins who before the war used to play tennis; otherwise you couldn’t get anything made of rubber at that time. In our collection of balls there was one which seemed to be made of stone and if you hit it with the bat, the shock pushed your eyeballs oot. We always elected to “play wi the soft ball”.

Wickets were no problem. If we got keen we’d take off up Hareshaw Lynn to cut some hazel sticks for stumps, but usually an upturned ash bucket served the purpose.

The sporting participants were we Daltons (Geoff and Clive), the Bensons (Dennis, Morris and Micky), The Masons (Frankie as Archie and Jimmy were as young lads in the navy), Billy Little and Billy Davidson.

We younger kids didn’t like the older ones who used to cheat and argue they were NOT OOT, or that the goal went in between the two jerseys laid on the ground for goal posts when it didn’t. The lasses (the Welton kids and Jenny Cowan) were not allowed by us lads to play cricket, so they specialised in “settin thor gobs up” and inventing rude nicknames.

Rounders was a game the lasses were allowed to join in, but only for short periods as they were always disputing the rules set by us lads and taking the huff when their weaknesses were pointed out! It was better not to have them in and just put up with thor gobs and hearing wor nick names. Again the ash pit rules applied. The clothes posts were ideal bases for this game.

Football had to be played with old tennis balls as nobody had a real football during and after the war. Somebody found an old football case but there was no hope of buying a new rubber bladder to inflate it. Kicking a tennis ball around was preferable to booting an old leather case. You couldn’t pretend you were Jackie Milburn or Stubbs scoring with an empty ball case.

There was a thriving football group with a proper ball who played on the Fairstead near the Council School but us Noble Street kids were never very welcome among the village kids, at least not until we got older as the grownups who were serious Bellingham football team members played there – and they kicked the ball hard!

Further reading:
Graham, F. (1986). The Geordie Netty. A short history and guide
Butler & Butler.
ISBN 0-946928-08-8

1 comment:

  1. It sounds a far cry from Lord's.
    I imagine the bats performed as well as any made from today's English willow.