Mark Doherty finds drama in the Yorkshire Premier League North on a visit to Rufforth & Marston Cricket Club at this picturesque village (Rufforth) to the West of York.
It promised to be a tricky day for me, as I had a couple of photo commitments early Saturday morning and then had to get across to Rufforth for the start of the Yorkshire Premier League North – Division Two Galtres game.
In the end, I got my other commitments done early and started the hour’s drive towards York knowing I would arrive with plenty of time before first ball.
The recent hot weather hadn’t let up and Saturday promised to be the warmest day of the week, pushing the mercury to around the 30-degree mark. Uncomfortable to sit and take photos, but even more difficult to play sport in.
Connor [my son] and I stopped in the centre of the village of Rufforth and picked up a cold drink from the quaint setting of The Old School village shop before heading further along the road to the club.
As with many clubs, I haven’t been to Rufforth since before the dreaded pandemic cast its dark shadow across everyday life, so I was digging into the recesses of my mind as to where the turning to the ground was.
I knew it was at the end of the village on my right and I second-guessed the turning, pulling across the road and immediately regretting my decision. I had turned into the entrance of the village cemetery!
In my defence, I had it fixed in my mind that the turning was by the road speed signs and there were a set there.
A quick turnaround, following the road around the bend and taking the next right at the next set of speed signs meant that the campsite and sports fields came into view. We had made it with about 30 minutes to spare.
I parked the car strategically – trying to find a little bit of shade for it, but far enough away from the boundary rope to reduce the chances of it being used as target practice by a batsman with a ball hit for six.
We did our traditional walk around the ground to get to look at the various potential views for taking photos, noting where there was potential shade to sit in as well. It was all very relaxed and much better than having to rush into position late.
Stillington came out to bat, and we took up our first location by the side screen, conveniently just in the shade too. In the blink of an eye, drinks were being taken and 15 overs had passed by. It had been an engrossing start to the game, even though the number of runs was alarmingly low.
Now as an aside, Rufforth’s badge features two cricket bats, a ball and an airplane. Rather a strange combination, but like many clubs the badge reflects where the club is or what is nearby. In this case, the ground is situated at the end of one of the runways for Rufforth Airfield.
The airfield was busy this Saturday, with a constant flow of planes and gliders taking off and landing. At one point, I mused about the possibility of a well-hit six bouncing off the wing of one of the extremely low-flying aircraft in the middle of the innings.
Back to the game and Rufforth’s bowlers and fielders were clearly on top, restricting the visitor’s batsmen to the odd run here and there, while picking up wickets on a regular basis.
By the second drinks break, we had worked our way around to the far side of the ground from where we started and were sitting in the full glare of the sun. It was hot!
In fact, it appeared that the large scoreboard had also given up due to the heat…stuck telling us that 97 runs had been scored and six wickets had been lost, even though a quick check with the scorer confirmed that it was eight wickets.
By the end of the allotted 45 overs, Stillington had fought their way to 125 for eight. The home team’s bowlers posting very impressive figures for economy, the ‘worst’ being just over 3.00 for their ten overs.
Each of the previous three times I had covered Rufforth at their home ground, they have proved to be a good batting side and…spoiler alert…so they proved again.
Richard Exley and Ben Lodge strode confidently to the centre and within a blink of an eye had amassed 63 runs before Richard was bowled by Rich Coultous. A drinks break was taken as the new batsman walked out. Fifteen overs gone, half the total chased down and plenty of wickets remaining.
The wicket didn’t slow down the run-rate and Ben continued playing some delightful shots to reach his 50 and drive Rufforth towards a century in the game. Joe Broughton and Phil Charlton added to the total as the runs kept on coming.
A massive six that nearly landed on the end of the runway drew the scores level and then the anti-climax of a wide saw the home team win the game in just under 23 overs.
It earnt ten points to keep them in second place in the league and hot on the heels of Osbaldwick at the top of the table.
While not one of those hidden away, small and intimate grounds that I invariably get drawn to, it is certainly one that I would recommend you visit as there are some great facilities, with easy parking, very welcoming, play some good cricket, and if you like plane spotting…then there is that too!
Taking a few final shots of the ground, we returned to the Swedish sauna that was the car, climbed in, and turned the climate control up to maximum to ensure we didn’t cook too quickly on the 40-minute trip home.
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