I have loved my favourite team being based at Colin Maiden Park for the past few years for lots of reasons.
Colin Maiden is my backyard. It's so local that I was able to wait out the weather and pop down to the game at the last minute , instead of sitting around in the rain. (very important in the Summer of 2011/12).
It's also close enough to home that I could go to a Plunket Shield match in the morning, lie around up under a pohutukawa tree all day, pop out at 3pm to do the school run and be back well in time for the last session of the day. I would bring the kids down,have afternoon tea at the game, and then they would run around playing cricket at the boundary ropes. Hell, some weeks, we even got takeaways and had dinner down there!
I loved sitting on the grass at the top of the hill, looking out to the Tamaki Estuary and watching the sunlight shimmer on the water in the distance. I got a kick out of stretching out under one of the big old pohutukawas with cicadas buzzing and clicking overhead.
I loved watching cricket at such a small ground where it was almost intimate. I got to know everybody- players, ground staff, umpires, the ladies who made the toasted sandwiches at lunchtime, other spectators.
So, today I took a very deep breath and decided that it was time to accept that all of that is just a happy memory and it's time to embrace the new home of Auckland Cricket, and make the best of it. So, on a sunny Spring Saturday morning, I took a drive across the city to Eden Park number two. Naturally I moaned all the way there about the traffic, and mentally calculated faster and more efficient ways to do the trip next time. And where would I park? And just where is the entrance to the grounds anyway? How would I actually get in on November 10th , when the first match is being played there?
So I arrived at the Sandringham Rd end, and looked for a park. All along the main road is No Parking. Of course it is. Then I had a flashback memory to when I used to come to Eden Park number two way back in the days when I wagged school to be there. Back then, I used to park my Mini in a side street right opposite the grounds. Sure enough I found that same spot today- albeit driving a Holden 7 seater, not a Mini 1300.
It was like flicking a switch, and all these old memories came flooding back, reminding me of my Grandma Grace (GG) and I being there together. I crossed the road for a closer look through the fence, and was pleased to see the old wooden stand there amongst the modern garishness of the new South Stand. I found myself pointing to the old stand and saying to my son (who was dragged along after cricket training)- "That's where I used to sit with my Grandma and eat Oddfellows, and hot chips, and watch the cricket."
"Geez mum, you never buy us Oddfellows and hot chips at the cricket."
Yeah well I asked for that didn't I?
The ground staff were going about their business preparing the turf, the sprinklers were on and the sun was shining. No cicadas yet, and not many leaves on the one and only tree that's left there. But you know what? I think it's going to be a good Summer there. I had better make sure the cafeteria sells hot chips and Oddfellows and settle in for a good one.