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​Lord's Cricket Ground: the Natural Home of the Left-Wing Ultra

Will Magee plans to turn the hallowed Home of Cricket into a utopia for left-wing ultras.

by Will Magee
01 May 2015, 8:00am

Image via Wikimedia Commons

When you think of Lord's Cricket Ground, certain things are likely to spring to mind. Wooden bats. Silly mid-wicket. Cravats. Good sportsmanship. Scotch eggs. Marston's Pedigree. The endurance of catatonic boredom. The Telegraph. The sort of people who read The Telegraph. All the things that allow this country's establishment to function, basically. All the things that make upstanding English gentlemen stiff with tearful, potent pride.

What is not likely to spring to mind when you think of Lord's is a pulsating mass of tribal, visceral, fanatical fandom. A leaping, screaming, racketing throng of chaotic, hardcore support.

This simply isn't right. Fuck it – it's fundamentally perverse. Somehow, someway, the world has contrived to keep the natural attendees of Lord's Cricket Ground as far from its gleaming gates as possible. These attendees are, of course, rowdy, politically-radical, left-wing ultras. Here's why.

By and large, left-wing ultras are to be found at football matches. Early on in the summer, the football season comes to an end. Naturally, abandoned to sudden inoccupation, leftist sport obsessives everywhere soon become lethargic and melancholic. As everyone else slaps on the Factor 30, dons ironic short shorts and prepares to brutally scorch their nearest nature reserves with the hot aluminium of innumerable disposable barbecues, communist casuals slump into prolonged gloominess; socialist supporters slink into the shade; and anarcha-feminist fans fall into deepest, darkest despair. All these ultras (and more) are silently longing for a new sport to watch. Thankfully, they're in luck. Cricket at Lord's is crying out to them.

You might be unconvinced as to cricket's suitability for these fans. Well, consider this. The greatest gripe of football's left-wing ultras is that ticket prices are grotesquely, excessively expensive across the board. This is most obvious at the top end of the Premier League – Arsenal's cheapest adult season ticket for 2014/15 cost £1,014, Chelsea's £750 and Liverpool's £710. In fact, costs are often startlingly steep far beyond the league summit. West Ham's cheapest season ticket for this campaign cost £640, Everton's £544, Leeds United's £445 and Rotherham United's £450 – the latter two clubs turn out sides at the wrong end of the Championship. By contrast, a full membership to Lord's covering over 40 days of high-quality play costs a mere £240. Cricket is the affordable game; it is the socially-inclusive, cost-conscious sport that left-wing ultras so vocally crave.

READ MORE: London's Left-Wing Non-League Ultras Are Reclaiming Football

Add to that the fact that cricket matches are really, really long – four-day county fixtures should comprise roughly 28 hours of play in total, while even a short-form Twenty-20 game can take up to 4 hours – and £240 a season starts to look like insane value for money. The duration of a cricket match means more time for politicised chanting, more time for activist protest, more time to discuss the finer points of The German Ideology and, vitally, more time for beer drinking. You're usually allowed to take a couple of tinnies into Lord's, but the price of a pint of lager there is pretty good regardless. Start off on a can of Żubr, move on to a delicious, anti-fascist Tyskie, plan the renationalisation of the railways and then slosh a guilty in-house Foster's all over yourself from a plastic cup. That's the only way the cricket ultra knows.

This is my message, then. I want to see Lord's Compton and Edrich Stands – symbolically located opposite the elitist, plimsoll-banning member's Pavilion – filled to capacity with Marxists. I want to see the Socialist Worker sold at the turnstiles of the North Gate. I want to see the Nursery End bristling with closed-fist banners, rainbow flags, union placards and egalitarian tricolours. All branches of the left from all four corners of the country should be welcome, every race, sex and age accommodated. The Telegraph-readers of the Warner Stand will look down in overt disgust and secret envy. Meanwhile, a bearded Trotskyist demagogue with a giant megaphone will rupture the accustomed quiet with stirring cries of social injustice. But only at the end of the over. Or at the tea break. Solidarity with the cricketers will still be important.

The fact that Lord's isn't a left-wing gathering place already is astonishing; the elite might have inexplicably appropriated cricket in the present, yet it's been a leftist's game elsewhere in the past; it could be so in Britain today. Indeed, as the sporting home of the powers that be, Lord's is surely the first place that the left-wing ultra should be loudly declaring his or her social and political discontent. Soon enough, with the right volume of ethical objection, The Telegraph might cease to circulate altogether in St John's Wood. The Lord's Tavern might get Tyskie on tap. In essence, the country's exclusive bureaucracy might start to collapse from within; passionate trade unionists, academic Marxists and social liberals might come together to watch bowlers delivering googlies, batsmen playing audacious reverse sweeps and peaceful, progressive revolution sweeping through even the most privileged parts of the hallowed Home of Cricket.

If I have my own membership revoked for this – if my drastic propositions are interpreted as bringing the ground and spirit of the game into disrepute – then so be it. I may fall to the arbitrary power of Lord's administrative hierarchy, yet a thousand left-wing cricket ultras will rise up in my place. There'll be cheap tickets, long summer days, beer, banners and equality for everyone. Lord's Cricket Ground will only be the start. Watch out, establishment. We're taking back cricket.

Anyone wishing to join in Will's crusade can link up with him via Twitter