Matches (16)
SL v AFG (1)
SL-A v SA-A (1)
UAE v WI (1)
ENG v IRE (1)
Vitality Blast (8)
Charlotte Edwards (4)

Toffs take over the Tavern

There is only one match at Lord's where spectators are segregated, and surprisingly that is the annual fixture between Eton and Harrow


Martin Williamson gatecrashes Lord's smartest match

Harrovian Glen Querl had an excellent allround performance © Martin Williamson
There is only one match at Lord's where spectators are segregated, and surprisingly that is the annual fixture between Eton and Harrow, which this year celebrated its 200th anniversary. Although MCC denies that there is any formal separation of the factions, Harrow occupied the Tavern stand, Eton the Mound, and large areas of roped-off seats maintained the divide.
Historically, a game which is overlooked by neutrals has had more than its share of crowd trouble. The first match in 1805 - notable for the inclusion of the club-footed Lord Byron in the Harrow XI - set the tone with raucous post-match behaviour. In 1954 Wisden reported "boisterous scenes, degenerating into rowdyism ... Eton supporters [tried] to tear down the colours of the victors ... a clergyman had his hat knocked off and kicked about." More than once MCC has written to both headmasters asking them to control their supporters.
Until the 1950s the match was a key event in the London social scene, with crowds of 20,000 as well as disproportionate coverage in the posher newspapers. These days the game is only of interest to the schools, although it still attracts three or four thousand spectators, considerably more than for most Middlesex home games.
Financially, the fixture is lucrative for MCC. Aside from the healthy attendance - and it was £13 to get in with no concessions - almost all the boxes in the Tavern and Mound are full. It may be an anachronism but it is the sort of anachronism modern commerce loves: one that more than pays its way.
For any neutrals who stumbled in, it felt like being at a party where you didn't know anyone. The concourses behind the stands were packed with boys and recent leavers gossiping and arranging where to spend the evening. Even in an age of corporate entertaining, rarely can Lord's have witnessed so many blazers.And oddly, considering it was a boiling hot day, not much lager was sold. Pimms and champagne were the drinks of choice.
At times the chanting would have done credit to the Barmy Army, although the material was unique, with The Eton Boating Song interspersed with choruses of "Pelham is a w****r". Charlie Pelham, a Harrow legspinner, proved a bit better than that, with two cheap wickets. And as the day wore on, it was the Harrovian taunts which grew more vocal. Their side won by seven wickets thanks to a superb allround performance by Glen Querl, who took 4 for 26 and then smacked an unbeaten 65.