The K.M.C.G - a tribute

by S.J.S.Blackburn

When one considers this country's great sporting arenas, Wembley, Headingley and Maine Rd. quickly spring to mind. However, four initials are surely what 99% of the population think of prior to any of the aforementioned. Four initials that send a shiver of excitement down the spines of sports fans everywhere: KMCG - Kirkby Malzeard Cricket Ground.

To the cricket aficionado the K.M.C.G. is the one true home of the great game. What makes it thus? Well, firstly there is the superb playing surface. Lovingly tended by master groundsman Ernest Ellis, the pitch gives help to both batsman and bowler, if they are proficient enough to exploit it ( which obviously explains K.M.C.C.'s superlative home record). The outfield resembles a bowling green in its uniformity and the gentle slope from the Quoits pitch to Pavilion has been much copied, most notably at Lords.

Added to this is the unique aura of the ground. Even stood empty, menace and impregnability are exuded. On matchday though , full to capacity, after Ernest and Fred Smith take their places on the wooden seat at the Bowling Green End, apprehensive opposition are simply overwhelmed, just as they were at Anfield in the seventies and eighties. The 'pressure cooker' atmosphere all great stadia generate is not for the faint-hearted. It is no exaggeration to say that the KMCG has won many a match for the team before a ball has been bowled.

The final piece fo the KMCG jigsaw is tradition: the illustrious characters and fixtures of the past that add to the Kirkby Malzeard legend. What true fan can recall Neville Kirk's swashbuckling single figure 'not outs', or Arthur Atkinsons diving one handed catches behind the sticks, without shedding a tear of nostalgia? The classic matches are too numerous to mention, but all associated with Kirkby Malzeard will never forget the Championship season of '92. Truly that year the KMCG was 'fortress Kirkby', the bulwark against which the enemy hordes' attacks came to naught.

There is a rich history to the KMCG, but progress may soon change the face of the stadium forever. A new pavilion and Media centre are being proposed for the Millenium and time is running out if you wish to see the magnificent old club house. The flowing graceful lines of the pre-fabricated concrete pebble dash walls, allied to the genuine corrugated asbestos roof, clearly set this structure apart.

If you have the opportunity, visit this national sporting landmark soon; walk on the hallowed turf, marvel at the design of the pavilion and ponder what drugs were available in the seventies when the architects conceived it.

For all those who come to pay homage, one glimpse is enough to confirm what millions of fans know already: the KMCG is cricket Mecca