By CHRIS WATERS
There have been few better descriptions of Headingley cricket ground than the following gem penned by Robert Mills, former cricket correspondent of the Yorkshire Post. In his book Field of Dreams: Headingley 1890-2001, Rob wrote: "Character, not beauty, is the word generally applied to Headingley cricket ground. It seems to epitomise what most outsiders think of Yorkshiremen - dour, prone to bouts of mournfulness and generally a bit odd. Its development over the years has not really been development at all, but rather a patchwork, patched-up mess which has left the place looking as if it has been put together by a hyper-active seven-year-old with a few Lego bricks left over." The ground has improved little since Rob gave us those delightful observations, although the new North East Enclosure has at least filled in the gap by the East Stand, where a swanky new scoreboard has also been erected. On occasions, the scoreboard has even been known to work, although some of its quirkiness has disappeared now that the entry for remaining overs - initially given as 'removers' - has been appropriately amended with a space between 'rem' and 'overs'. It could only happen in Yorkshire, of course, and the whole Headingley experience is an acquired taste for visiting pressmen and women, who should be mindful of several problems: namely - and in no particular order - inadequate car-parking facilities, unhelpful stewards and a lack of refreshments.
DIRECTIONS: (Satnav - LS6 3DP) The ground is well signposted off the M621 and also from the A6120 ring road if travelling from the north. A taxi ride from Leeds Central railway station to the ground should not set you back more than five or six quid, while there are plenty of buses to Headingley from the city centre. Trains run at regular intervals from Leeds Central station to Headingley station, which is about a 15-minute walk from the ground (go out of the station, turn left and keep walking until the ground appears on your right). Burley Park Station is also a 10-15 minute walk through the local council estate to the St. Michael's Lane entrance.
CAR PARKING: There is no point whatsoever in attempting to drive your vehicle into the main club car-park, where one of the Jobsworths on the gate is more likely to let your tyres down than accept a valid reason as to why you should be allowed to proceed towards the rows of deserted parking bays. So it's away down St Michael's Lane, I'm afraid, and on to Car Park F at the bottom of the road, where a flash of your ECB/County pass will gain you free admission. The only problem with Car Park F, however, is that it is so far from the press box that one is almost tempted to ring for a taxi. You basically have to walk around the back of the rugby stand and up to the main gate in St Michael's Lane or along the footpath to the Kirkstall Lane end of the ground.
FACILITIES: The new press box is situated on Level Four of the pavilion. For international matches, it’s the main lecture theatre; for most county matches, it’s a side room on the same floor. Media manager is Danny Reuben - 07748 906345, email Danny.Reuben@yorkshireccc.com. The scorer is John Potter ('JT' to his friends) - one of the more eccentric on the circuit and a man liable to have all manner of obscure facts at his fingertips. Sandwiches are now provided in the press box, along with tea and coffee. Otherwise the peckish basically have five options: to visit one of the refreshment stalls at the back of the Western Terrace (a bad idea); to dine in the East Stand (nice food, but over-priced); to nip over the road to the Indoor Cricket Centre (fairly reasonable); to go into the centre of Headingley or to nip down St Michael's Lane to Ugly Mugs café, which is straight out of the main entrance, turn right. Not only are the staff at Ugly Mugs highly skilled in the art of receipt-writing, but the establishment is cheap, cheerful and frequented by many a wizened Yorkshire supporter liable to blurt out an 'intro' while discussing the failings of his team. For those with a healthy thirst, there are plenty of bars in and around Headingley, although not too many of the real ale variety, while there is always the option of going into the East Stand for a drink if you prefer not to venture out of the ground. For the younger generation, the Headingley Taps and The Skyrack are recommended, while there is always plenty going on in Leeds city centre, which is approximately two miles away.
ACCOMMODATION: There are numerous places to stay in and around Leeds and Headingley, including the Headingley Lodge (01132 785323), which is located at the top of the East Stand. The Village Hotel (01132 781000) is close by and popular with opposition teams, while those looking for something cheap and cheerful could do worse than try The Boundary Hotel (01132 757700) on Cardigan Road, which is the road that runs parallel to the back of the East Stand. Useful numbers: Yorkshire County Cricket Club (01132 787394), Chris Waters (07801 195512, 07947 111090), David Warner (01274 583849), Yorkshire Tourist Board (01904 773371).
Whereas Headingley is aesthetically unappealing, the North Marine Road ground at Scarborough is one of the prettiest on the circuit. Situated on the edge of town and within easy walking distance of the seafront, the ground is used for two County Championship and two one-day league games each year.
DIRECTIONS: The ground itself is well signposted. From the south, you basically stay on the A64 into town, turn right on to the A170 (High Street), continue on the A170 along Stepney Road and on to Falsgrave Road, from where you bear left on to Victoria Road, which leads on to North Marine Road. It is advisable to leave plenty of time for your journey because the A64 can get particularly busy and Scarborough's one-way system is such that if you make a mistake, it can take ages to get back to where you need to be.
CAR PARKING: The biggest problem with covering cricket at Scarborough is parking. There is no parking available within the ground, so you have no choice but to try your luck in one of the neighbouring streets, or to use one of the town centre car parks. Most of the streets have parking restrictions, however, so you may have no alternative but to park a good 15-20 minutes walk away. Going to North Marine Road itself is well worth the effort, however.
FACILITIES: The press box is a cosy affair situated at the Pavilion End. There are a couple of telephone points (again, if there are any problems in terms of phone lines, speak to myself or David Warner). There is no free food or drink for the press, but there are one or two refreshment outlets on the ground, not to mention plenty of sandwich bars/fish and chip shops nearby and a number of pubs/restaurants in the vicinity.
ACCOMMODATION: Those staying in Scarborough for any length of time could do worse than pitch up at The Crown Hotel, which is situated on the Esplanade. There is ample parking outside the hotel and the ground is 15-20 minutes walk away. The number for the Crown is 01723 357426. For further information on where to stay, telephone Scarborough Tourist Information Centre on 01723 373333.
DIRECTIONS: York Cricket Club is located at Clifton Park, Shipton Road, York, YO30 5RE (Tel 01904 623602).
FACILITIES: The ground has temporary media facilities and a wifi-code can be gained from York CC or Yorkshire CCC Media staff. Car parking is available adjacent to the ground for press and media.