This week, Lord’s Cricket Ground celebrates its 200th birthday, and celebrations are in full swing at the England v Sri Lanka test match and at the anniversary day next weekend. Fine celebrations for a wonderful sporting venue.
Lord’s holds a special meaning to cricket fans everywhere. The self-styled Home of Cricket, the spiritual home of the game and the keeper of many a fine cricketing artefact and collectible from across the globe. A cricket fan’s first visit to the ground is always a special day, and I remember mine very fondly. It wasn’t for a cricket match, but a job interview.
In early 2011, I was finishing my undergraduate degree and was considering a career in museum conservation. I sent an email to the MCC Museum and Library asking for some work experience for a few weeks in the summer after my graduation. I was invited to an interview at the library one very cold and wet Friday morning in February, and with my head spinning with excitement and nerves I entered the sacred ground.
The sight that greeted me that cold morning.
I can’t remember much of what I talked about in the interview with Collections Officer Charlotte Goodhew in the library, but she showed me round the place after we had finished. I was fairly awestruck by the Ashes in the museum, but the view I was greeted with in the Long Room, looking out over the lush green grass, was second to none. I wish I could have taken a photo, but rules are rules. I was offered 6 weeks work experience in the Museum and Library at Lord’s, starting on 18th July 2011.
My first week couldn’t have been a busier one. I arrived to find the ground gearing up for a test match against India. Security and media were swarming all over the ground as I was trying to make my way around at lunchtime, loyal fans of both teams at the gates trying to catch a glimpse of Tendulkar and everyone else. The atmosphere of the test was absolutely incredible, one I will never forget.
The Lord’s Crowd on Day 5
That was the start of a magnificent summer for the England cricket team, going to Number 1 in the world and beating India 4-0, and the start of a whirlwind 13 months of working for the MCC. For a first job, it’s quite a good one. I left Lord’s in August 2012, after 3 test matches, several County Championship games, several t20s and 40 over matches, a ODI and an Olympic Archery tournament. I still can’t quite believe it all happened.
I feel lucky and a little bit smug about all this. It is the dream of many a cricket fan to come to this special ground, and I was paid to go there 5 days a week for 8 months. I’ve seen the ground in all its glory in the summer sunshine during a test match, covered in a clean blanket of snow in early January, and fought through the crowds of punters hiding from the rain at all times of year. I once pointed Darren Sammy in the direction of the museum for his pre-match press conference, and I left the MCC two days after Andrew Strauss retired (he was invited to leaving drinks and meal in Maida Vale. He didn’t attend.)
Lord’s still is a very special place to me, even though I’ve left and moved on. I was desperately sad to leave, but I was determined it wouldn’t be the last time. Working there for those 13 months only enhanced my knowledge and love of the game, and all the experience and chances I had there have only spurred me on to working harder for the chance to go back. Nevertheless, walking back through the Grace Gate always brings back happy memories of the one year I spent there, and a shiver down the spine for how lucky we are for having such a beautiful place for cricket to call home.
Happy Birthday Lord’s. You’re looking good for a 200 year old.