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Mods and Blockers

Mods and Blockers

The summer of 1965. The Beatles were at No 1 with "Help !" and copies of the 45rpm single were selling fast.

Manchester United had pipped Leeds to the First Division championship and Liverpool had just beaten the Elland Road side 2-1 in the F A Cup Final. The gentle embrace of nostalgia is difficult to resist.

It would be difficult to argue that the cricket played that year was quite so memorable, but journalist Colin Evans has sought to recapture that damp, distant season in a new book "Mods and Blockers - Lancashire's Rock 'n' Roll Summer."

 And for anyone attending cricket matches in the 21st century who wants to know what the game was like 44 years ago, it is hard to think of a more evocative guide.

For like so many good cricket books, "Mods and Blockers" is not just about cricket. Indeed, at times, the game seems merely the much-loved context for the author's memories of other sports, music, women and booze as he cut his teeth as a young journalist. It is a rich and heady brew.

For the record, Lancashire finished 13th in the 17-team championship in 1965, but for David Green, who became the only man to score 2,000 first-class runs without making a century, the summer was full of fine innings. Evans acknowledges that the former Old Trafford opener's "razor sharp memory" was a huge help as he attempted to recreate an almost lost age.

Today's younger cricket fans, though, nourished by a diet of limited-overs games and the fast food of Twenty20, might need time to adjust to the more sedate fare of 1965.

The county season consisted of 28 three-day games and the Gillette Cup, a 60-over knock-out competition which had only started two seasons previously. That was it really. There were the university matches - Oxford and Cambridge only of course - but the life of a county pro was focused on the first-class game.

There were six Test matches in 1965, but they are not really Evans' concern. He is more interested in telling the story of a county club very gradually emerging from a vaguely feudal age.

Perhaps the era is epitomized by the fact that the two candidates for the Lancashire captaincy in 1965 were Brian Statham, who had 69 Test caps, and Freddie Millett, who was captain of Cheshire. Staham edged it, four votes to three.

There is plenty of local interest in "Mods and Blockers" too. Evans' tales of his arrest at Aigburth and the difficulties of filing a report from Southport's one-phone-between-ten press tent reveal a deft talent for comic writing.

So this book is about Dionne Warwick and Harry Pilling, it's about the Kray twins and Ken Higgs, it's about Italian scooters and Tommy Greenhough.

In an age when a mediocre Test cricketer's ghosted pap sells for far more than the price of a decent meal out, "Mods and Rockers" is worth ten quid of anyone's money.
Paul Edwards

  • Mods and Blockers is available at £9.99 (inc p&p within the UK) from Colin Evans, 1 Wittenspithall Cottages, Dunham Road, Warburton, Nr Lymm WA13 9UH


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