England’s debt to Micky

Micky Stewart remembers the day the bombs came. Watching at Lord’s in July 1944, Stewart remembers the noise of the drone ceasing as the engines cut out and the bomb started to glide towards the turf. The players lay flat on the ground, as did the spectators in the stands, waiting, hoping, that the bomb would miss the home of cricket, which it did, exploding a few hundred yards away in Regent’s Park.

Stewart remembers that the players simply got on with the game, and the crowd started singing, spontaneously: ‘They’ll always be an England, And England shall be free, If England means as much to you, as England means to me.’ A fierce patriotic pride runs through Stewart (father and son, Alec), as lettering through Blackpool Rock, something made clear in Stephen Chalke’s excellent new biography, ‘Micky Stewart and the changing face of cricket.’

Like all good books about sport it is also about the changing face of society and reading this account of Stewart’s life illustrates the many of the changes of the last half century and more. Dog racing has all but disappeared now in and around London, as have track-side tic-tac men, but both were features of Stewart’s early life, as his family made its gentrifying move from Coldharbour Lane, Brixton, towards the leafier enclave of Dulwich.

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