Burnley and Pendle

Cyclists Touring Club

C.T.C. Notes - The Battle of Gordale Scar - Aug 1930

Sunday! With tousled heads and bleary eyes, the various members of the Nelson Section of the C.T.C. jumped, slid or crawled from between the sheets, and with noses pressed to windows, surveyed glistening roofs and lowering clouds. Suppressing groans, they gulped down breakfasts, packed food, and at times ranging between eight and ten o’clock, launched forth on their trusty steeds in the direction of Malham. As the official route was via Whalley, it is possible that a few actually reached that becobbled village; but many, knowing of shorter and smoother ways, utilized that knowledge and travelled direct.

The advance guard, arriving before 11-30, decided to pay their respects to the camping section, and accordingly pushed on to Gordale, finding those children of nature — the campers — very much in occupation. Some weird game was in progress, since a hard ball was hurled with great force at an inoffensive youth, the victim defending himself with a block of wood. This, the visitors were informed, was cricket as played in camp. At this stage the camp’s orchestral performer wearied of the game, and diving into a nearby tent, emerged tuning his uke-banjo. This operation successfully completed, the band struck up and hesitatingly tip-toed its way through the tulips. Songs, ancient and modern, followed with bewildering rapidity, whereupon the non-campers fled back to Malham to find the "Airedale" in the possession of the Nelson and Blackburn sections of the C.T.C.

Interval of one hour for lunch. The weather, so depressing earlier in the day, had cleared, and gave promise of a glorious afternoon.

Let it here be said that the objective of the day’s run was a cricket match between the two sections, conceived by their respective committees 1n a moment of madness.

Lunch over, to the satisfaction of all concerned, the company rose in a body and repaired to the camping ground for the match. The campers were discovered in the midst of their midday repast, the odour of burnt bacon mingling appetisingly with the stench of paraffin and other smells so dear to the heart of the camping fraternity. One young lady, anxiously brooding over a strange substance not unlike leather, proudly informed a sceptical audience that the object was a mushroom. Arrangements are well in hand should a funeral be necessary.

But let us to business. The rival captains were busily engaged sorting out the wheat from the chaff — pardon the simile - when the Blackburn skipper discovered to his astonishment that his list contained twelve names, and not knowing which man to drop, pleaded with tears in his eyes, for permission to play the lot. Granted ! Tastily, “Bookoss.” the Nelson leader, tacked another name to the tail, and amid a tense hush tossed his last ha’penny. Tails, called Blackburn, but heads it proving to be, “Bookoss” held a consultation with his stalwarts and decided to bat.

Here the Nelson shares rose rapidly, for the appointed scorer was found to hail from Burnley, and a win seemed assured. But wait! As he seated himself at the foot of a tree, Blackburn supporters draped their figures on either side and prepared to see that no regrettable errors passed unnoticed.

Nelson stocks slumped heavily. The game commenced at 2-30, and the spectators subsided on spread-out capes and ground sheets, the, umpires gave “middles” in the approved manner. Silence reigned. Two maiden overs gave no promise of thrills to come, but ten minutes later the game stood at no runs for two wickets. The female element of the Nelson supporters paled beneath their powder, whilst male fingers twitched spasmodically. More maiden overs, then a snick produced a run. Sensation! The scorer, hastily roused from the state of. lethargy into which he had fallen, produced his pen and proceeded to justify his selection. Shortly afterwards the score stood at one run for four wickets, and by this time the ladies were sobbing openly. The whole side were out within the hour for a paltry eighteen, and with heads lowered in shame, the potential losers took the field. A hectic thirty minutes, and the heads were again erect, for Blackburn had been skittled out for a grossly inadequate ten runs.

Nelson’s second attempt realised fifty-seven runs for the loss of three wickets, at which total the captain declared. The “Blackburnites,” it may be mentioned, were unstinting in their fielding, and the open-handed manner in which they dropped an unbelievable number of catches drove the rival supporters into a frenzy of applause, and produced from their own partisans a succession of groans, heartbreaking in their intensity. Faced with a deficiency of sixty-five, they prepared to sell their lives dearly, but with the total at thirty-one, number twelve pushed a ball into the safe hands of second slip. The match was won and lost. Blackburn enthusiasts were later observed stifling sobs as they stumbled down to Malham, to drown their sorrows in tea.

The camping section celebrated the victory in the usual manner, consuming enormous quantities of paraffin flavoured bread and charred eggs, washing down the unsavoury mixture with gallons — so it seemed — of some only fluid, possibly prepared as tea.

It is proposed to purchase a large tin of raspberries, the same to be handed to the losing team to console them in their hour of darkness.

- Wilmay

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