Legendary umpire and former Yorkshire and Leicestershire cricketer Harold Dickie Bird unveiled the new players’ balcony at the clash between his two former clubs in the Royal London One-Day Cup at Headingley. There had been a delay in completing construction work on the new development of the Carnegie Pavilion, for which the Yorkshire President paid £125,000 out of his own pocket.
The ceremonial ribbon-cutting took place during the lunch break, with members and fans congregating on the pitch in front of the balcony to congratulate and thank him. Bird was joined on the balcony by the Yorkshire players and other club dignitaries.
Speaking after the ceremony, Bird commented “[It was] marvellous to see all the members, because it was for them as well. More so the players, of course. They wanted a balcony! A Test ground, Yorkshire County Cricket Club, one of the biggest clubs in the world, and no balcony for the players to sit on and relax before they go out to bat or field?
“You’ve got to be mentally keyed up before you go out there, and the dressing rooms as well are red hot, sweat pouring off you, very stuffy. And so I thought, well, nobody had come forward to have this balcony built, and I thought, well I’ll do it. And it’s cost me a bob or two!
“I’m happy with what I’ve seen so far, but it’s not finished yet. We’ve got to have astroturf put on the balcony floor, but it’ll look nice when it’s done. They’ve got to put a plaque in the dressing room, and my name has got to be on the stand at both sides.
Bird said he was glad “it’s been done for the One-Day International when the Aussies are here, because the Aussies when they were here last time they played hell up about the dressing-room facilities, and it wanted doing. I don’t think if I hadn’t come forward, I’ll be honest, I don’t think it would have ever been done.”
The highlight of the special day according to the Yorkshire President, was the reaction of the Yorkshire players to his gift. “The players all shook hands with me, and that’s what means more to me than anything else. The players have really appreciated it, and they’ve put their arms round me and they’ve said that they’re very grateful for what I’ve done.”
If the warm applause of the assembled crowd and the gratitude of the Yorkshire players is anything to go by, then Bird’s generous gift has been a success. Whether it will satisfy the Australians or not may well depend on what sort of mood their ODI skipper, Steve Smith, is in at the time. All eyes now turn to Trent Bridge for the fourth Test, which could have a significant impact on how chirpy Smith will feel when he sits on the Dickie Bird balcony himself in September.