Editor Tanya Aldred introduces issue 35 of the Nightwatchman…
Welcome to the Autumn 2021 Nightwatchman. We hope that, as you turn these pages, summer will linger even while dusk races backwards and the cricket bats return to the cupboard under the stairs.
This issue, we celebrate the lives of two brilliant cricket writers who recently died within a couple of months of each other: David Foot and John Woodcock.
Woodcock, forever of The Times, memory dating back to the days of Bradman, amanuensis to EW Swanton, editor of Wisden, was at the heart of the cricket establishment. Tim de Lisle recalls his own visit down to the famous thatched cottage at Longparish and we also have Michael Atherton’s tribute from The Times. Then we let Woodcock do the talking: his match reports are perfect little pieces of prose, and here paint a picture of England’s Ashes-winning tour of 1954–55 and the Edgbaston Test of 1981. There is also his homage to Ben Stokes at Headingley in 2019 and a reflection on being the only man still standing from the 40 who set sail for that 1954–55 tour on the Orsova.
David Foot shared Woodcock’s love for the countryside around where he grew up, and for the cricketers who he watched, but was a man cut from a different cloth. A maverick, he had no desire to move in important cricketing circles, preferring instead to stay down in the West Country and follow his nose, writing gorgeous county cricket vignettes for the Guardian and several award-winning books including Harold Gimblett – Tormented Genius of Cricket and Fragments of Idolatry. Stephen Chalke, publisher of many of his books, and a good friend, shares his fondness for Footy in his obituary before we delve into the Foot archive: memories of watching the 1948 Invincibles and four vintage essays: on Viv Richards, Siegfried Sassoon, Charlie Parker and Frank Foot.
In between all this we squeeze Timothy Abraham’s tale of derring-do as Wales play in their first (and only) World Cup in 1979, Eleanor Oldroyd’s attempts to sniff out a Yorkshire cricketer on her family tree and Harry Pearson’s first forays into journalism. The Reverend Robert Stanier also takes an open mind, and his family, to the first ever Hundred game, while Will Yates discusses at the need to tackle racism at grassroots level.
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