Cricket at Newlands

Was chatting to a friend this morning who grew up in the same area I did in Cape Town. One thing we both used to do as kids/teens was head off to Newlands for cricket now and then.

We lived in Mowbray, just two train-stops from the Newlands stadium, and it was a matter of a quick trip to spend the school holiday days there. Before the entire circle was built up with stadiums and fancy buildings, the prime spot was under the trees next to the main stadium (between stadium and scoreboard in this pic) - a few steps from the entrance and station. There was one crazy bloke that always hung out there, an oldish coloured chap who had the most colourful commentary and threw it at everyone liberally. He'd chat to the watchers, the players, the tv camer blokes, whoever would listen. He once teased a player liberally about his "day-job" - an apple farmer. After the drinks break, the player came out and threw him an apple! :-)

We weren't only in attendance for the big, exciting matches. The 5-day-long tests for our local team would do just as well. If it got rained out, no problem. Up went the umbrellas.. and we often ended up on TV as part of the "scattered few". We'd gather friends and hit the grass with bats and balls - entertain ourselves when nothing was going on on the field.

The best games though were the exciting day/nights, with the big teams and the grounds packed. Mexican waves, checking out the local talent in the crowd, bringing your braai (the smoke drifting across the field in great waves between innings), and travelling home in a rocking packed train rejoicing after a win - never to be forgotten!

These days the trains are dangerous and no kids would hop on them without thinking twice. Gone are the days of catching a train to the cricket, or to Muizenberg beach for the day (and chatting up the surfers on the way home). Gone the expansive lawns - replaced by "assigned seating" usually priced well above a kid's allowance. Gone the freedom for kids to come and go during the holidays.

Damn, I miss those days!

image from