In this article following an interview with Malc Ripley earlier this year (reproduced from the June issue of our newspaper, the Herald – which will be back later this year by the way), we find out a little bit more about our enthusiastic cricket correspondent.
AT 77 year’s young, Umpire Malc Ripley – affectionately known to me as “Mr Cricket” – is the longest-serving cricket official within Yorkshire’s cricket officialdom! And having just completed his 54th season he’s probably forgotten more about cricket than the rest of us will ever know!
Passionate about the game generally, Malc an umpire, is obviously a particular advocate for those who officiate at games, yet incredibly he never wanted to be an umpire!
Already having played school cricket at 13, he was regularly playing for South Holderness Cricket Club (SHCC) having left school, but for reasons he doesn’t still agree with or understand today, he was suddenly dropped by the Hedon based club at the age of 24 and told he couldn’t play. But coincidentally at the very next game when he should have been playing, the match was in jeopardy for the lack of an official. Malc was encouraged by his team mates to stand in. He initially refused saying he wanted to play instead, but eventually agreed. He officiated in his first match on a temporary basis to fill in for another poorly chap, but that soon turned into two weekends, then three and then more. That initial nonchalance has now been replaced by a real enthusiasm for his role as umpire, a role that has brought him so much pleasure and resulted in him making so many friends.
Cricket of course is no short game. In order to take part it eats into a slice of your life particularly at weekends, leaving home early morning and not getting back until late at night. Malc tells me that during the 2014 season he officiated at 19 matches clocking up a remarkable 1,173 travel miles!
As somebody who cares about cricket he does worry about the future of the game. He’s noted the loss of over 124 clubs over the last decade, and he thinks that the time commitments needed to play cricket means the sport is losing out to fixed length leisure activities like football and rugby.
We conjecture whether cricket would benefit from more role-models and/or celebrities that could promote the game and encourage more people to play or become officials. This prompts Malc to consider those who inspired him: His dad Arthur who also played for SHCC (but only one season at the same time as Malc); and his sports master Dougie Beal who gave up his own Saturdays voluntarily to coach his charges in football during the winter and cricket during the summer. “Lots of us at Withernsea High School owe a debt of gratitude to Dougie,” says Malc, “particularly for instilling in us the need to uphold the ‘spirit of the game’ – and not to show dissent to umpires!” he throws in at the end.
In his cricket career Malc has written about cricket for many local newspapers – mostly in the days before computers when reports and results had to be written long-hand, put into envelopes and physically posted to the newsdesks!
The Herald is really delighted and privileged to have got these regular previews of South Holderness cricket from Malc Ripley, so ‘thank you’ Malc. There’s more from him at HU12 Online and of course on the Hedon Blog too with his Ripley’s Reminiscences series.