A chance to be bowled over by Boycott at Spa

BBC Look North presenter Harry Gration, enjoys the sunshine and view before his guest speaker appearance at Scarborough and District Women's Luncheon Club event, at the Royal Hotel today. 094528f      
pic Andrew Higgins   04/11/09   
in News
BBC Look North presenter Harry Gration, enjoys the sunshine and view before his guest speaker appearance at Scarborough and District Women's Luncheon Club event, at the Royal Hotel today. 094528f pic Andrew Higgins 04/11/09 in News
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I’ll be frank. When I was a cub reporter with Radio Leeds covering Yorkshire cricket, Geoff Boycott was a pain.

There I was, every home match, with a tape recorder (remember them?) asking the great one for an interview. It always started the same.

Geoff Boycott and Brian Close at Headingley
CRICKET 119A

Geoff Boycott and Brian Close at Headingley CRICKET 119A

“Will you do me a chat Geoff at the end of the day, please?”

“I’ll think about it. Carry my bag to the dressing room!”

I did.

In all of those years I think I got the odd interview ... usually when Boycs had scored a century.

But the truth is that he knew I would be at the match and I suppose familiarity always leads to success in the end. Indeed I got the first interview with him after he completed his incredible century against Australia at Headingley in 1978. That was his 100th hundred.

A nine-minute ovation from the fans who worshipped him. I timed it, sad person am I! That Headingley knock is celebrated this year as it is the 40th anniversary later in the summer. He also loved playing at Scarborough which was a wicket made for him.

His cricket career was always controversial. He was sacked by the county as captain at the end of the 70s and civil war erupted. You were either for the great man or you couldn’t stand him.

I can remember being sent to Harrogate by Grandstand to report on the county’s special general meeting there.

One of my first live broadcasts and on the programme I loved most of all. The tensions that had been simmering between Geoff, the committee and some of his teammates exploded and came out into the open.

Despite losing the captaincy which I don’t actually think he ever enjoyed, he played on for the county after that with his usual success.

By the way, he averaged 100 for a season twice in his career which laid the foundations for those who said he was a selfish player, only bothered about GB. I love to hear him respond to those accusations.

But few would argue with his role now as our leading cricket pundit. His following on Test Match Special is phenomenal and his bluntness and honesty is loved, and, at times dreaded, all over the world.

His night at the Spa on Saturday May 6 will be the second I have hosted with him. The first at Headingley was a wonderful night, full of nostalgia of course but the second half gave the packed audience the chance to ask him questions directly. Geoffrey didn’t avoid the bouncers.

Yorkshire cricket has always produced characters. Trueman, Close, Illingworth were all blunt and down-to- earth Yorkies.

Unseen footage from the BBC archives, rare photographs and a behind-the-scenes look at his house in Cape Town will be part of an Evening with Geoffrey Boycott at the Scarborough Spa.

“I urge you not to miss the chance to see GB live,” said BBC TV presenter Harry Gration who will be compering the event.

“I promise frank conversation, hilarious anecdotes and special films to stir the memory.”

The evening is on Saturday 6 May, part of a tour to mark the 40th anniversary of Boycott’s 100th hundred. Tickets are £25 or VIP tickets at £45 include a post-event Meet and Greet with wine and front row seating.