DCSIMG

Take That responsible for Kingo's first miss

It's often said that the very best wicketkeepers and umpires are rarely noticed.

But at least they're visible to spectators. What about the poor scorers?

When Northamptonshire famously beat Leicestershire at the County Ground in May 1939 to end the team's horrendous four-year run without a Championship victory, it was noted in some of the match reports that long-serving notcher Leo Bullimer was absent.

'Bully' had missed precious few matches since taking up the pen on the County's behalf way back in 1900.

But as Bill Merritt claimed the final wicket to send the 5,000-strong holiday crowd into transports of delight and prompt a speech from the balcony by skipper Robert Nelson, dear old Leo was at home in bed with a fractured knee cap.

A fall on a station platform had cost him the chance to be there when history was made.

And that brings us to a more recent casualty – current first-team scorer Tony Kingston.

"People often ask me how long I've been doing the job for Northamptonshire," explains our happily fit-again hero.

"I tell them this is my 20th season with the firsts – and in that time I've never missed a day, a session, an over or a ball.

"But I can't say that any more."

I have no idea about Bullimer's taste in music. A touch of the Henry Halls, perhaps?

But in the case of 'Kingo' – put the blame for his absence from the box during the pre-lunch proceedings on the third day of the recent Championship match at the SWALEC stadium squarely on the fashionable shoulders of Gary, Mark, Howard and Jason.

I've looked those names up, by the way.

"I went to the Take That concert while we were down in Cardiff.

"There were 64,998 screaming fans packed into the Millennium Stadium, plus me and (Northants physio) Barry Goudriaan.

"It had been a very wet day and when we got back to the hotel I slipped over.

"David Lucas and his wife were following behind and eventually they sat with me in the University of Wales hospital until three o'clock in the morning."

After having his cuts and bruises cleaned up he was kept in overnight for observation and a CT scan.

Doctors decided to discharge Tony at 11 – the scheduled starting time, of course – leaving him to make arrangements for someone else to hold the fort until he could get to the ground.

"Fortunately I had the mobile number of Andrew Hignell (his Glamorgan counterpart) and he sorted it out for their academy scorer to fill in.

"He was as good as gold, and after having some lunch I was back in the seat at 1.40pm.

"Fortunately, I didn't miss too much of Alex Wakely's excellent century for us.

"David Capel reckoned I looked as though I'd been a few rounds with Henry Cooper – but a lot of the younger ones didn't know who that was!"

Now, I'm not sure if Mr Kingston's replacement for that session is a football fan. If so, the chances are he will have heard of Herbert Chapman.

One of the greatest of all managers, he masterminded Arsenal's domination of the English game in the early-1930s.

And – whilst in charge of Northampton Town between 1907 and 1912 – he was known to fill in as County scorer during Bullimer's occasional absences.

A notable predecessor.

But the good news is that 'Kingo' (taking a cue from his band of choice) is now 'Back For Good.'

Because although 'It Only Takes a Minute' to slip over – and, as we know, 'Everything Changes' – I'm 'Sure' he'll be more careful next time.

I looked all that up, too.

 
 
 

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