Warwickshire v Leicestershire in the county championship. A wet week in May. The first two days are washed out.
Not an occasion to evoke lifelong memories, you would think. Think again.
For one Bears supporter, that match, in 1973, has very special resonance. It was Elizabeth Homer’s first visit to Edgbaston and the springboard for a lifetime of pleasure at her “happy place.”
Straight away, Elizabeth was hooked. Not just by the cricket, but the whole lovely atmosphere, the warmth and camaraderie. Still a member to this day, she has witnessed many wonderful matches and players at Edgbaston but, perhaps most importantly, has spent countless wonderful hours there amongst friends.
Even on that soggy day back in ’73, the absence of cricket did not prevent an enjoyable time. “That was my first game and I went with my dad,” Elizabeth said.
“It rained, so I got out the Playfair annual and was asking him ‘who was the captain of Yorkshire?’ and ‘who won the Young Player of the Year award in 1966?’ and things like that.Elizabeth Homer
“The following year he took out a membership and it had a junior ticket so I went along a much as I could.
“Then in 1978 my dad died and I thought that would be the end of that, because I didn’t think I’d be able to come on my own. But when I started work as a medical secretary at what is now City Hospital, my consultant, also a cricket fan, bought me a membership for the 1982 season. He said that, as long as I worked for him, he would pay my membership each year. After he retired, I bought my own, so have been a member continuously since 1982.
“Edgbaston is my second home. It’s my happy place. I’m not a great one for holidays so would coincide nearly all my work holidays with cricket. That was where I most wanted to be.”
And right from the start, Elizabeth was taken to the heart of the great Bears family.
“I went back on my own in my early twenties, which was quite a brave thing to do,” she recalls, “and within about two matches I found friends. I’m quite a quiet person, but Edgbaston is such a wonderful place for meeting people. You get chatting to someone and they’ve got a mate, so you chat to them, and they introduce you to somebody else who is in another group and before you know it, there’s 20 of you.
“I have met some lifelong friends there. We still organise get-togethers in the winter and throughout COVID we’ve been calling each other and catching up about this and that.
“The Edgbaston stewards are also fantastic. I have a blue badge for parking, and it can be an anxious time when you don’t know if you are going to get a space but without exception I have found the Edgbaston stewards absolutely amazing. Special mention to JT, who teases me and we have a laugh, and Keith and so many others. Over 38 years, I’ve got to know people in the office and front desk, so many people, and found them really friendly and welcoming.Elizabeth Homer
“Edgbaston really is my happy place and that’s why I donated my membership last year. I wanted to give something back because it has given me so much pleasure. The cricket is sometimes almost incidental. It lifts my mood just to be there. I love my cricket but just as enjoyable are the friendships and chats and coffee.
“The incentives to donate the membership, while they weren’t the reason, were very nice, like the reception and putting our names on a shirt. They are nice touches, but I didn’t hesitate at all.”
One of cricket’s unique charms is that spectators can have a great time even when the cricket’s nothing special. But Elizabeth has also seen plenty of matches and players that fully justify the label ‘great.’
“Initially, my favourite players were Dennis Amiss and Alvin Kallicharran,” she said. “But my favourite ever, so beautiful to watch, is Ian Bell – no player has given me more pleasure than him. Fast bowler-wise, it has to be Allan Donald. I like aesthetically pleasing!
“Chris Woakes is a modern favourite. I love it when our home-grown players go on to play for England. I take great pride and pleasure in that and he seems such a nice guy as well. Jonathan Trott too. In 2009, I was selected to present the Player of the Season award to Jonathan and felt very privileged to be asked to do that.
“I’ve watched a lot of international matches at Edgbaston and my most enjoyable was the World Cup semi-final win over Australia. Warwickshire-wise, in 2010 we were virtually out of the Clydesdale Bank 40, but won our last four matches and then the Lord’s final. That is a very happy memory. The 2004 Nick Knight-led championship was another highlight. I liked Nick very much as a player.”
Members like Elizabeth are the true heart of the Bears. They are an integral part of the club’s great past, present and future, and why the club has made every effort to stay connected during the challenges of the pandemic.
“I read everything that goes on the website,” Elizabeth said. “It is great to keep in touch and I have really enjoyed the live Q&As that Brian Halford has done. I chat to people about them so it all helps us connect. It’s all keeping in touch in this very strange time.
“I love the livestreaming of matches too. It’s lovely to watch Warwickshire even you are not physically there – you feel part of it.”
Elizabeth should feel part of it. She is very much a part, a much-valued part, of Warwickshire County Cricket Club.
Membership 2021: Buy before 16 February & save £25
Membership Early Bird deadline has been extended to until midnight on Monday 15 February, offering a saving of £25. 2021 Members will also receive priority access to buy tickets for England’s Test match against New Zealand.
Be part of the #BearsFamily this summer.