I spent today visiting Peak Rail, a preserved line that runs north from Matlock to Rowsley South. No doubt I shall show you some photos of it soon.
But when I was planning this trip it was the name of the intermediate station that interested me: Darley Dale.
That name stirred faint memories of a televised Sunday League match in the 1970s with the cameras feasting on the green hills that ringed the ground and (was it?) Barry Richards scoring runs.
I found the cricket ground at Darley Dale near the station - in Station Road, in fact.
Chatting to a couple of the older spectators, I learnt that my memory was correct. A Sunday League match had been held here and televised, and Hampshire had been Derbyshire's opponents.
Richards and Gordon Greenidge had hit the ball over the trees and into a field across the road, I was told, and Alan Ward had been playing for Derbyshire.
At home this evening I checked the score on Cricket Archive and found that all those players featured. There is also a mention of the game on the Darley Dale Cricket Club site:
On 7 September 1975 over 6000 people packed the ground to witness perhaps the biggest event in the Club’s history – a televised John Player League match between Derbyshire and Hampshire.There is more: it was at Darley Dale that Hampshire clinched the John Player title.
A Hampshire Cricket Society newsletter remembers the day:
The final match was at the little village ground at Darley Dale in Derbyshire. The match posed a problem for the BBC. Great improvisation was required by the engineers to get a strong enough electrical signal out of the valley and then along the top of the Dales for twenty odd miles to the nearest booster mast. There was even talk of asking Derbyshire to change the venue to Chesterfield, but they rightly kept faith with the local village club who had spent all season preparing for this match.
Hampshire stormed to the title in style. Richards (52) and Greenidge (55) gave Hampshire an initial advantage which they never relinquished. Tom Motram (5 – 21) and John Rice (4 – 14) ensured the landmark victory by 70 runs.