SCARBOROUGH’S pedigree as a premier cricketing venue shone through again as the town’s 125th festival began in style.
Thousands of ardent fans descended upon the famous North Marine Road venue for the first day’s action between Yorkshire and Sussex.
Despite changeable weather, supporters’ spirits were lifted by an initial burst of wickets from the home team before the resurgent visitors hit back with the bat.
Roger Needham, 76, from Sheffield, is a regular at the festival and was absorbing the action from the Pavilion End with lifelong friend Clive Tiddy.
He said: “The ground is a delight to come to and there is always a good atmosphere at Scarborough.
“We come every year and it really is a lovely setting to watch cricket when you’re by the seaside and the sun is shining.
“It is also nice to see Scarborough allowing the youngsters to have a game on the outfield because that’s what it’s all about, you want to encourage them to enjoy the game.”
Mr Tiddy, 77, also from Sheffield, said the festival evoked childhood memories of cricket at Scarborough and reminisced over the visit from the famous 1948 Australian team, who included Sir Donald Bradman in their ranks.
He added: “As a young lad we used to play cricket on the beach when the tide was out and when it came in we would come and watch the cricket.
“The old festival teams used to have a lot of stars in them and you got to see players right in front of you who you normally wouldn’t get the chance to watch.”
Mary Wood, from Goole, was another festival regular, and said Scarborough provided fans with a unique experience.
The 83-year-old said: “I’ve been coming here for years and it’s simply because we like Scarborough.
“We always meet up with the same friends at the ground and have had some great times here.
“The atmosphere at this ground is extremely friendly and so much different to when Yorkshire play at Headingley.
“You don’t get the same feel at Headingley as you do here and certainly not the children on the outfield in the break playing their own games.”
Tony Craven, from Wakefield, has been a regular for the past 12 years.
He said: “It has also been lovely to see the improvements made to the ground this year which have made a real difference.”
Tim Boyes, joint-managing director of Boyes store, said: “We have supported the festival for more than 100 years and people come back because it is so popular.
“You’ve got spectators here now who used to come as children are now grandparents bringing their grandchildren to watch the match.It’s one of the major sporting events in Scarborough’s calendar and it is great to be able to back the event.”
l See pages 38 and 39 for coverage of yesterday’s play