Club Cricket Conference

Tuesday, 30th November 2021

Royston boys give scrapbook perspective to Yorkshire history

By Charles Randall

10 December 2013

Cricket clubs can nurture a love of the game for life at an early age, and this can hardly be better illustrated by the influence of Norman Yardley, a local hero reared among his family members at Royston CC, near Barnsley.

Yardley went on to captain Cambridge University, Yorkshire and England as a man revered by his village community and most notably by a small boy at Royston called John White, who was inspired to keep a life-time of cuttings and memorabilia of all things Yorkshire.

Anyone with a love of Yorkshire cricket would be especially impressed by White's new book published under the title of Those Were The Days. His collection of newspaper articles, cigarette cards and reminiscences have been gathered under one cover, prettily laid out by Christopher Saunders Publishing.

The work certainly justifies its sub-title of A Yorkshire Boy's Scrapbook, inviting the reader to thumb at leisure through White's memorabilia and written comments that evoke decades of county cricket. One would imagine his collection of 800 items would be the most extensive source of such material in private hands.

As a Hertfordshire - rather than Yorkshire - supporter, I found this book a delight. For example, the illustrated pages on the Yardley family, mainly featuring their most celebrated member Norman, tell a familiar story. Many a cricketer might recognise their own feelings when Norman recalled hanging around with the Royston players at the age of 10 in 1925 while they warmed up on the outfield. "I counted the players every time they assembled for a match and prayed that someone should fail to turn up," Yardley recalled in his book Cricket Campaigns. "There came an away match and someone did not arrive." Yardley persuaded the captain, his father, to let him play. The future England all-rounder scored a couple of runs at No 11 and caught two important catches. The young boy was complimented by one of his victims after the match. Wind the clock on two decades, and 700 local folk turned up for a tribute evening at the Palace Cinema in Midland Road to honour a village boy who made good.

White, among the next Royston generation, took a different life path as a viola professor at the Royal Academy of Music and as a cricket lover with an important contribution from beyond the boundary. His previous books naturally address music, such as An Anthology of British Viola Players (Comus Edition), but there is no doubting that Those Were The Days comes from the heart.

His work accomplished, John White died on 1 December this year.

Those Were The Days (Christopher Saunders Publishing: £20 + £5 p&p)

To order: sales@cricket-books.com or telephone 01594 516030.