Cricket overlap

Congratulations to England’s 50-over cricket team. But let’s keep a sense of proportion. English sportsmen won World Cups in 1966 and 2003 by outscoring the opposition. The cricketers won thanks to the small print in the Ts&Cs. You’d need the soul of a contract lawyer (or the breathless enthusiasm of a TV presenter) to regard that as a comparable sporting achievement.

Cricinfo’s picture from The Timeless Test, when a draw was an acceptable conclusion

What would have been so offensive about having co-champions? The first ICC Champions Trophy (another One-Day International cricket tournament) was shared by India and Sri Lanka. The result on Sunday at Lords – as, not far away, at Wimbledon – was unsatisfactory for being contrived. Cricket used to be a game in which a draw or a tie was an acceptable conclusion. In the most famous case, known as The Timeless Test, England and South Africa slugged it out over nine days, whereupon they declared the result a draw so that the English players could catch their boat home. At the time England were 654 for 5 in their second innings, chasing 696 to win. Another hour’s play would have been enough, but a draw was in their blood.

If the 50-over white-ball triumph has whetted your appetite, the first six weeks of the new football season overlap with the cricket season. On a Saturday afternoon, football and cricket will usually clash. But if you’re traveling a long way and making a weekend of it, you could take in some top-class cricket. Here are a few examples:

Swansea City at Derby, 10 Aug; T20 Blast Derbyshire v Durham, 9 Aug

Luton Town at Cardiff, 10 Aug; T20 Blast Glamorgan v Surrey, 11 Aug

Liverpool at Southampton, on 17 Aug, T20 Blast Hampshire v Surrey 16 Aug

Bristol City at Derby, 20 Aug; County Championship Derbyshire v Gloucestershire, 18-21 Aug

Plymouth Argyle at Northampton, 31 Aug; T20 Blast Northants v Worcestershire, 30 Aug

Eurotide

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What to make of the English dominance of this year’s European club competitions?

Two English clubs will contest the final of the Champions League, and two more meet in the Europa League final. It’s an unprecedented clean sweep – and not a Manchester team in sight!

But any talk of dominance would be premature. Although the tide may be turning, it’s clear where the dominant European football culture can be found, at least until the evidence of one or two more seasons is available.

In the past 10 years, only six countries have had teams in the last four of the Champions League:

There has been more variety in the Europa League, but when you strip out the one-offs the picture is similar:

Spain provided the winner of the Champions League for the past five seasons before this one, and both finalists twice since 2014. Spanish clubs also won the Europa League six times in the nine seasons from 2010.

Before them, German clubs were notably successful in the Champions League, 2009-2013, and at least one of the last four has been German in all but two of the past 10 years. Portugal has a similar record in the Europa League.

A chance of a ghost

Halloween steam in Preston (pic by Gary Severn)

Halloween is on the horizon and this weekend’s fixtures (27/28 Oct) may take you somewhere with paranormal possibilities:

Barnsley (for Bristol Rovers) has a Pumpkin Festival at Cannon Hall Farm.

In Birmingham (for Sheffield Wednesday at Blues, Blackburn at West Bromwich, Wycombe at Walsall) the options are at Visit Birmingham.

Brighton (for Wolves) calls itself “one of the spookiest cities in the country”.

For Bristol (Stoke at Bristol City) go to Visit Bristol.

Burton (where the visitors are Peterborough): the National Forest Adventure Farm has Screamfest.

Cambridge (for Macclesfield Town) has Halloween Tours.

Colchester (for Lincoln City fans) has a genuine oddity: in The Cells, there’s the American Horror Lobster dinner.

Exeter (for Forest Green Rovers) has Witches & Wizards Tours.

For Leeds (where Forest play) family supporters should look at Yorkshire Tots.

Liverpool (for Cardiff, and Crawley at Tranmere) pushes the boat out at Visit Liverpool.

In London (for Bournemouth at Fulham, Ipswich at Millwall, Villa at QPR on Friday, Luton at AFC Wimbledon) there’s a Halloween Bus Tour among other events.

Nottingham (for Swindon at County) has a Mini-fest on the Old Market Square.

Preston (for Rotherham United fans and steam railway enthusiasts) offers Halloween Spooky Trains on Ribble Steam Railway.

Stoke (for Bury at Port Vale) has various things going on at Trentham.

Swansea (for Reading fans) has Spooks in the City.

Egypt around every corner

Bolton is the place to be for Egyptologists this autumn. On 22 September the Egyptology gallery of Bolton Museum will re-open with a full-size reproduction of the burial chamber of Thutmose III.
The first away fans to be able to treat themselves to this reconstruction of a site in the Valley of the Kings will be Derby County’s on 29 September. Blackburn Rovers are there on 6 October, followed by Nottingham Forest on 24 October and Hull City on 27 October.
But Bolton isn’t the only destination on the football league itinerary for Egyptian collections:
Brighton Museum & Art Gallery has two Egyptian galleries through the city’s association with noted Egyptologist Francis Llewellyn Griffith.
Derby Museum has two mummies (one partially unwrapped) and a number of grave objects.
Leicester New Walk Museum has a two refurbished Egyptian galleries re-opening on 20 October, when there will be family activities and three times as many artefacts as previously displayed.
Liverpool had an Egyptian Museum as long ago as 1852. Now its World Museum claims to have the “largest Ancient Egypt gallery outside the British Museum”.
Macclesfield’s West Park Museum houses the collection of Victorian thrill-seeker Marianne Brocklehurst, a voracious shopper as well as a skilled artist and engaging diary-keeper.
Manchester Museum’s collection includes objects that found their way up to Lancashire through the funding of Sir Flinders Petrie’s expeditions by industrialist Jesse Haworth
Norwich Castle has an Egyptian gallery stocked with artefacts donated by local mustard magnate Jeremiah Colman and author Henry Rider Haggard.
The Ashmolean Museum in Oxford has about 50,000 objects from Egypt and Sudan.
Rochdale’s Touchstones has a Heritage Gallery with plenty of Egyptian interest, much of it supplied indirectly by Sir Flinders Petrie, a pioneer of archaeology and Egyptology.
Swansea’s Egypt Centre celebrates its 20th anniversary this year.
The Museum of Wigan Life has an Egyptian section in which pride of place goes to a mask 3,500 years old.

All this information and more is in Towns of Two Halves. Order your copy from info@townsof2halves.co.uk