Did They Come From?
asks D.Smith of Wendover, did the notion of playing for a tatty old
jar of fag ashes come from? Why do we do it, and why - when everyone
knows that the band contains trainspotters and Airfix kit-builders -
are we rather pathetically trying to make out that we are cool sporting
types who understand things like 'silly mid-off' and 'gullies?'
ye doubting Thomases. Here for the unbelievers is a short history of
what was initially known as 'The Ufford Ashes.'
all began on July 9th 1992. Dee, our then besuited and avaricious
agent, had inexplicably booked the band into an obscure country
pub somewhere in the wilds east of Stamford. It was called The
White Hart, and was in a microscopic village called Ufford. Other
bands seemed to be playing there, and as there was a decent fee
put up for coming, it seemed ideal. We even got to play outdoors
in the beer garden, which was splendid. Attached to the pub was
a paddock, in which dwelt a goat, and upon which one could camp,
should one desire. It was upon this hallowed turf that the first
scratch game of drum-skin frisbee began with the landlord's daughters.
the following year - also July 9th - this had developed into a
kind of free-for-all cricket match. So many people joined in that
by the time we had emptied the van out into the pub's car park
for the third time - July 28th 1994 - there was not only a trophy
to play for, but a full-blown enemy team. Chris from Bishop's
Stortford, and his wicked sisters, brought along bats, pads, stumps,
and even real hard cricket balls for those brave enough.
original ashes was an old peanut butter jar full of old dog ends,
with a Blyth sticker on it. These were then transferred to a glass
train-shaped affair (plastic actually - Ed), which we were determined
would be ours in perpetuity. Sadly this was not to be save one
glorious year of triumph. Another change of venue and new Ashes,
mainly thanks to Trina puffing away like a goodun after we forgot
to bring any. These are now simply The Blyth Power Ashes, and
so do for anywhere...
White Hart provided a number of interesting experiences - the
year it rained; the year a female Palmated Newt wandered across
the stage area; the year it was Protag's birthday; the now infamous
Slapgate Affair. It was, on the whole, a light-hearted and good
natured alternative to the bilious muddy hell of exploitation
that is Glastonbury and its ilk. Sadly, July 21st 1995 was the
last time Blyth Power played at Ufford, as the pub changed hands,
and stopped being user- friendly.
event had grown into quite an affair by then, and we were sorry
when efforts to find a new venue proved fruitless. Happily, Mr
John Taylor alerted us to the presence of The Whistle Stop, adjacent
to the East Coast Main Line at Tallington, and after an absence
of some years, we were happy to stage the event again. As things
turned out, so was everyone else, as it was even better than previous
affairs at Ufford.
venue changed. The presence of the railway line makde up for
the lack of a goat - a facility few found much use for anyway.
The campsite had all kinds of exciting facilities (that open
air commode for instance), and although the space for playing
cricket was a little less generous than at Ufford, at least
the ground was level, and given the informal nature of the ashes
games, it was not really a problem. Sadly, after a good run
and a couple of changes of landlord/ladies the old problem of
pub-owner-not-really-getting-it cropped up, and the 2007 event
was scuppered at the last minute. The following couple of years
saw the event transplanted to Derbyshire, before moving to Norfolk
for the next year (well, at least it keept Mr Cooper happy),
and is now happening at The Plough in Farcet Fen just south
you know what happened.