Void

It has been a little while now since I’ve put up anything original on here. The Open Thread gives you a chance to put your views across but at this time I simply feel like I have nothing left to say. Some will be celebrating, some will be laughing, some will, if there’s something wrong with them, might be quite sad. Name dropper that I am, but when I was left alone with Lawrence (while Chris nipped out) he asked me how the blog was going. My response?

“Lawrence, I’m knackered.”

And I am. Mentally and enthusiastically knackered. I had a couple of posts half way drafted, but then decided not to finish them because I thought they weren’t good enough, or that they were too self-centred. One of them was on Hillsborough, which of course isn’t cricket related but is personally linked because I was there that day. Another was on the reaction to being outed by a true friend of the blog, who now contends she has my full name. I’ve wrestled as to whether I should do it myself, but then something that was also said on Friday stuck with me. “Why do you bother when no-one listens to these people, when, as we show, we read what you say.”

There’s also the chances of recalling this weekend last year. The sacking of Moores, appointment of Strauss and the 355. But why? That’s all in the past. As we’ve said, the battle has been decided.

I didn’t watch much of the Notts v Yorkshire game. I couldn’t be arsed to go to Surrey on Sunday. I’ve been watching the NBA playoffs, sorting out life, following the Red Sox and cricket has taken a back seat for the first time in a couple of years. And when I see the sort of nonsense around points for results in formats to make something more interesting because the game has been so damaged, I wonder why I should be bothered. I’m away for the second and third tests in May/June and I’m not even bothered to find out how I might catch up with them.

And then I read Jomesy’s comment. And I know why I do what I do. The community we have here is worth persevering with. The fact he’d put his thoughts on here like that is immensely touching. It gives the lie to the criticism that this blog is a one trick pony. It is chock full of people who deeply love the sport and feel betrayed by the past two years. Betrayal is a strong emotion. You need to care to be betrayed. You need to give of your soul to be betrayed. And when it happens, the corrosion of your soul from the betrayal is worse than the act itself. One day these people might understand what they did. Evocations to “get behind the lads” fall on reasonably deaf ears. Yes, it is only a sport, but no, it isn’t just a sport.

But let me get something clear. Here’s why I use a pseudonym. I wrote this in one of my aborted pieces:

I’m exhausted. You’ve probably already gathered that. It’s a really long run, and I’m knackered. There are times this week I’ve thought I’ve nothing left to give.

I’m an emotional kind of person. Wear my heart on my sleeve. You could say that I can dish it out but not take it. I’d say you were wrong. When emotions pile on top of each other, and when you know there’s a breaking point imminent, you have to take action.

I started blogging in 2006. It was  on Blogspot. It was a general thing, talking about life in general, politics, my less developed views on certain issues that I wince at now, and my main passions in life. My football team, Boston Red Sox and cricket. I started it because I loved to write, and thought of it as an online diary. I still feel it was some of my best writing.

2006 was a time of huge change in my life. My parents, as you might know, died within 9 months of each other. Losing one was an immense shock. My mum was amazing, and the sort you thought would go on forever. Then my dad also passed away, and I was left with no-one other than a brother with a family to help me through those times at home. A brother grieving himself. My future wife was not on the scene. In short, once away from friends and colleagues I was alone. So I needed to fill the time. So I blogged.

Then came the problems of 2008 when I was threatened. I’d written an article about an issue involving my football club’s supporters (it was an election) where I’d pointed out, with evidence, a candidate’s unsuitability, in my opinion, for the role. For that, I was threatened. I wasn’t anonymous. People knew me, knew my face. That wasn’t comfortable. So I was faced with a choice. Fight or flight. I took the latter and closed the blog. I avoided confrontation.

In some ways the problems were that I was betrayed by someone who read my blog (I got 5 hits a day tops and was for my mates more than anything) and grassed me up. You wonder why I reacted the way I did to someone earlier in the year? That’s beyond the pale.

So you wonder why I post under a pseudonym? Experience. I’ve met plenty on the blog who know my name. I am in e-mail contact with a few more who certainly know my first name. I started a new blog, new pseudonym and the one that lasts until today.

Just saying to me “don’t be bothered by these people” is not going to work. You are who you are. Jomesy puts that in true perspective.

One thing I am sure about is that there will be something. There always is. Maybe I’ll finish this piece:

The Marvellous, Mad Month of May 2015

I always said I’d do a blog review of the events of last May. It was an absolutely nonsensical month, if truth be told. It started, on the first of the month no less, with Alastair Cook finally making that elusive test hundred. And there was much rejoicing in his heartlands, and much braying at the naysayers (who weren’t wrong, you know). A couple of days later and England had spewed up a test match and given away a series win to a frankly mediocre West Indies team. Instead of looking at the disastrous performance, journalists were telling us to “look over there” at Colin Graves’s statement before the series. A few weeks later Australia went over there and tore the home team apart. But we won the Ashes, so no-one remotely cared.

Meanwhile, in the wake of Paul Downton’s dismissal, there were manoeuvrings afoot on the new appointment of a Director of England Cricket. For all intents and purposes it came down to three men. The establishment candidate in Andrew Strauss, virtually offered Downton’s role a couple of years ago, but who honed his skills in the Sky Commentary Box, most notably in the wondrous ability to call someone a “c***” and have the press think it great. Then there was rent-a-gob Michael Vaughan, at one point the nailed on favourite until he seemed to realise that he couldn’t have it all ways like he has now. He started to beat the retreat early in the process. We might have known then that it was for Strauss, and Strauss alone. Finally there was Alec Stewart. He’d been doing the job for Surrey (not brilliantly, but he inherited a hell of a mess), was an England stalwart, had not too great a distance from today’s players and was highly respected. The fear with him was that he might want the man with those initials back, and that he’d very publicly supported him in the Genius Twitter affair.

I knew it would be Strauss. He was born to this role. A man who loves management theories, who has his own consultancy, and who was putting his ducks in a row to get it. When it was leaked, of course, in advance of a formal appointment, it wasn’t a shock. What followed the leak was.

Meanwhile, back in England, Kevin Pietersen was making waves. After Colin Graves’s statement that KP couldn’t get picked for England if he wasn’t playing county cricket, serial dunce and naive KP jacked in his beloved IPL for a shot at getting back into the team. He signed on with Surrey and had already hit a massive ton against the University (Chris Stocks…I still remember that tweet) and the world went mad. His early form wasn’t world-beating but something was around the corner. Something very, very big.

Also there was a tide of consternation around Peter Moores. A horrendous World Cup and an inauspicious tour of the West Indies left him with fewer supporters. However, despite things look ing bleak in hindsight, there wasn’t a thought that we were serious about getting rid of the “best coach of his generation” a year after he was appointed.  However, in hindsight again, it was obvious. The key decision makers, Downton and Clarke, were both gone – one sacked, the other booted abroad. Strauss was reported to be one of those unimpressed by Moores in his first go around, but conveniently allowed KP to blow his own head off and assume the captaincy as a result (I’m sure Moores being coach during the only time Strauss was dropped had nothing to do with it).

I was in the States when it all kicked off. England were playing another rain-interrupted ODI against Ireland when rumours went around the ground that Moores had been fired. As we’ve won the Ashes and the South Africa series all this nonsense has been forgotten, but Strauss got off to a brilliant start. Before a formal announcement he had the job, he’d sacked a coach, had the decision leaked, and while I was no fan of Peter Moores, even I felt this was truly wretched stuff. A dead man walking, he conducted himself with dignity and honour, two traits we never doubted in him, and the ECB, frankly, looked like the lovely word Strauss had used against KP.

However what happened the following weekend would top that. Surrey commenced their fixture against Leicestershire on the Sunday, and Surrey had bowled out Leicestershire for 292 and were 105 for 2 in reply – KP was on 35 not out. The Monday saw the heavens open in terms of runs for the former England batsman. As I journeyed up and down the Garden State Parkway, following the scores on my limited mobile package, KP passed 100, then 200 and ended up 326 not out at the end of the day. A message? Some message. An irresistible reminder of the talent. The next best score in that innings? 36 by Sangakkara.

Some were ready to say it “was only Leicestershire”. They looked daft. This was the reminder that this man was still the best in this country to bat alongside Root in our middle order. “There are no vacancies” was the call. It wouldn’t be long before there were.

Which is where I stopped! Maybe I’ll start again…

And then there’s my excerpt from “Hillsborough”

To go forward to 1989 and how a Millwall fan ended up at Hillsborough. My mate at Uni, called Jon, knew a Nottingham Forest director. We were on Easter leave when he gave me a call and told me we had tickets for the Semi courtesy of the. This would be the biggest match I’d ever been to. I had a bit of a cold, and finished my temporary work assignment a couple of days early and drove up to Liverpool in my little Vauxhall Nova on the Friday. We were to take two others over the Pennines with us. One writes a fair bit on Liverpool now (Rob Guttman) and Jon and Rob’s mate Julio. Rob had a seat, Julio had a terrace ticket. We discussed what time to leave in the pub. We thought there’d be a bit of traffic but estimated it to be 2 and a half hours to Sheffield. I suggested 8:30, picking the other two up shortly after.

It was a nice Saturday morning, and the Brown Bomber that was my Nova set off from Sandown Lane in Wavertree. Our house had a pub on the other side of the narrow road, The Edinburgh, and was yet another example of the locals taking to us because we just wanted to blend in. Lovely people, full of reds. We passed the pub, picked up our two Liverpool fans and took the M62 out of Liverpool.

As we drove around Manchester we started encountering traffic, which was pretty bad. Suddenly the 2 and a half hour drive looked to be one that would be nearer 4. I’m one of those who left super early for football matches, accounting for traffic. Many don’t. It’s always been a question of mine that there might have been a few people caught up in that, but it’s conjecture.

The mood was one of excitement, of course. The FA Cup was massive then. We drove over the Pennines (pretty sure it was Woodhead) and came from the north into Sheffield. I remember we parked in a side road up the hill from the ground. It was the third time I’d been to Hillsborough so it wasn’t new to me. But it would be the first time in the home end. We said cheerio to our Liverpool fan colleagues, and Jon and I walked around to the Kop. I passed a pub, which was full, with fans having a drink before the game, but really, that was nothing odd.

I walked down the main road to the Kop and thought it really odd. There wasn’t the throng of people I was used to in big matches. I produced the ticket, went through the turnstiles, walked up the steps, and we went to the top, and looked out. And I will never forget my first words “where on earth are all the Liverpool fans?”. The two pens in the middle were reasonably full, but those on the side were nigh on empty. It was around 2pm.

There’s the issue folks. I can’t finish pieces at the moment. Maybe these 2000 or so words can fill the void.

Have a great week…..