The first poem on this site and the first of an occasional series I posted on grockles.com. Appropriately the first poem to appear here is about the great man himself, JC White, or at least about the original gates bearing his name at the St James Street entrance to the Taunton ground and plans to remove them.
In the autumn of 2016 Somerset CCC obtained planning consent to widen the St James Street entrance to the ground to accommodate large modern transport vehicles. The existing St James Street entrance included the ‘JC White’ gates installed in 1963 in memory of JC ‘Farmer’ White, then arguably Somerset’s greatest ever cricketer. JC White had died in 1961. The wrought iron gates had as their centrepiece the letters JCW in the form an impressive monogram.
As part of the works the gates were replaced with new JC White gates although in a ‘modern’ design. However, it was not immediately clear what fate awaited the original gates. Eventually my own contact with the club revealed that the original gates were to be kept in store until a place within the ground could be found for them.
In the meantime, at Hallowe’en, I had posted on grockles.com an attempt at a humorous plea from JC White himself on the subject …
Lament on Hallowe’en
On this spectral day of All Hallows’ Eve
When spirits walk the land who wrongs perceive.
A spinning farmer his grave vacates
To seek answers to questions about his gates.
Who among you, he asked, would remove my gates?
Twenty-five seasons I laboured for Somerset’s sake.
Two thousand plus batsmen I lured to meet the fates.
Reveal yourselves; you who would remove my gates.
Every summer I came down from my Quantock farm
To lure bemused batsmen with flighted slow left arm.
No matter how great; against me all were in dire straits.
Now, who are you that would remove my gates?
When Somerset’s bowling threatened no-one any harm
I stood firm and held the line with poetic slow left arm.
Of Somerset spin bowling I am the William Butler Yeats.
So, stand and make your case, you who would remove my gates.
I captained Somerset; and England too, when the call came;
And humbled Australia under Adelaide’s scorching flame.
With thirteen wickets in the match I shifted their tectonic plates.
Now, tell me please. By what right you remove my gates?
Somerset to the core; I gave my all.
And ‘twas said, in my time, I never bowled a bad ball.
So, why now, when a new slow left armer deals in batsmen’s fates
Do you meddle with my gates?
But, if my gates you really must remove from their entrance,
I must request that you do due penance.
I do not ask that you build me a coliseum,
But, if you please, put my gates on a plinth outside the museum.
Original first posted on grockles.com on 31st October 2016.