Lancashire member Geoff Wellsteed has teamed up with Somerset supporter Anthony Collis to produce a book about pubs connected with cricket
'Inns & Outs' is a 190-page hardback book that features over 300 different nationwide pubs and includes almost 500 colour pub signs and everyone cricket related!
Paul Edwards reviews 'Inns & Outs'..
Even in an era when bodies are temples and isotonic drinks are the last order of the day, links between the game of cricket and the local pub remain strong. The Bat and Ball just outside Canterbury's St Lawrence Ground and the splendidly refurbished Ring Of Bells in St James Street, Taunton are almost offshoots of their respective county clubs; even non-drinkers enjoy visiting them.
Nevertheless, you might think that a writing and publishing a book about pubs whose names have a cricketing connection would be a step too far in the direction of undisciplined enthusiasm. Well, Inns and Outs by Anthony Collis and Geoff Wellsteed gives the lie to any such notion. Subtitled "a book about cricket-related inn signs and pub names", it is an elegantly produced volume which any cricket lover should have on the back seat of his car as he searches for refreshment during his summer odyssey around England.
The key to the success of Inns and Outs is that it is much more than a bland register. Although Collis and Wellsteed confine themselves to pubs whose names are directly linked to cricket, they explain the connections between the game and the inn sign (or the town where it is located) in careful detail. Hence we discover that The Bat and Wickets in Northampton used to feature the embroidered signatures of not only Herbert Strudwick and Jack Gregory, but also Edmund Crosse, who was a scion of the family which combined with the Blackwells to run the soup and condiment food empire. It was Crosse who skippered Northamptonshire when they mustered - or maybe it should be mustard - just 12 in their first innings against Gloucestershire in 1907 and yet did not lose the game. How did this happen? I refer you to page 91 of Collis and Wellsteed.
I also refer you to inn signs 303 and 304 as well because one of the joys of this book - and a very fair reason for its still reasonable price - is that it contains 32 pages of full colour illustrations of the nearly 500 pub signs it describes. Most of the inns have a story attached to them and the only sombre note is struck by the number of pubs whose paragraphs are shaded in grey, indicating that the hostelries have drawn stumps.
Overall, though, it is difficult to be too downhearted when reading this lovingly written book. Collis and Wellsteed have uncovered some fine stories, many of which stray happily into English social history. Lancashire supporters will find 17 of the county's pubs described and absolutely none of them are classified as being situated in Greater Manchester or Merseyside. There is also a sympathetic introduction by David Frith and host of other good things within the pages of Inns and Outs. In an era when a young Test cricketer needs to score little more than a maiden century to "write" the first of his many autobiographies, Collis and Wellsteed's book deserves to sell well and it would make an excellent gift for any cricket addict.
Inns and Outs is obtainable from Geoff Wellsteed (firstname.lastname@example.org or 0151-625-6470).
It normally costs £18, but Lancashire Members can buy the book for £15 plus £5 post and packing. Those wishing to order by post should make their cheques payable to Square Leg Publications should send them to Geoff Wellsteed, 3 Beatty Close, Caldy, Wirral, CH48 2JT.