Name Tag Mysteries

During a wardrobe de-clutter this afternoon, I stumbled upon an old cable knit cricket sweater I used to adorn in the late 1970’s, when playing for Gateshead Fell junior cricket team.

The item of clothing in question is a woollen jumper skilfully produced from a cable and twist pattern by my mater (Maggie). I realise you won’t have a clue what that means (I chuffing don’t!), but trust me the cream, royal blue and sky blue woollen item is craftwork of the highest quality.

What struck me when I caught sight of this sweater was not just the quality of the intricate increase and decrease stitching, but the fact it bore a name tag sewn into the collar.

The dark blue writing on the tag bears the wording ‘Gary Strachan’; which luckily was the same name as me. If I’d have been called Frank Shoehorn (or indeed any other name apart from Gary Strachan) I’d have been knackered.

I don’t recall why my mum felt the need to stitch the tag into her finished craftwork, after all I was 15 years old when she knit it, not a child of 6.


I don’t recall her expressing a lack of trust in my team mates, or indeed worries of the sweater being vulnerable to a light-fingered cricketer, necessitating this label of identification.

As far as I know, she deemed my fellow 1978 Fell juniors as a bunch with the highest integrity. She certainly never exclaimed to me “Watch that Godza doesn’t pilfer your jumper, the lanky get!”. Although as he was about 6 inches taller than me at the time, I was never overly concerned he’d nick any article of my clothing.

If he did, I’m pretty sure we wouldn’t require a name tag identifier to highlight the culprit of my jumper theft. You wouldn’t need Poirot, or indeed a Crimewatch reconstruction on TV, to workout the 15 year old, 6’4” all-rounder, with the jumper sleeves that end at his elbows had ‘borrowed’ my club sweater.

The only thing my team mates stole was a few yards when backing up at the non-strikers end. As far as I know, even sherbet dips and jelly snakes sold in the tuck shop were all acquired with honesty and coin of the realm.

My younger brother Ian once stole a handful of jelly snakes from a bag in the pocket of my trousers, while they hung in the club changing rooms. He denied it, of course, but the fact he couldn’t answer me due to a mouthful of jelly snakes, after I questioned if he’d eaten them, gave it away…. That, along with the fact one was escaping out of his nostril!

I suppose I should be relieved that it only had a name tag with ‘Gary Strachan’ sewn on it. At one point, my overly cautious mother wanted the label to read ‘Gary Strachan – Run Out 2’, in the event another player called Gary Strachan joined the club in the future.

Thankfully, she was talked out of that excessively granular approach…… The ‘Run Out 2’ element being apparently the most regular score and manner I was dismissed when batting. According to my mum’s statistical analysis anyway.

This statistical analysis also identified the number of jelly snakes you’d have to ram in your mouth for one to escape through a nostril. Unfortunately for our Ian, she’d not relayed this prior to him stealing mine and shoving them in his gob.

During a phone call with my parents earlier, the mystery of the name tag was solved. Apparently, it was to identify the players sweaters when club members sent them for the centenary club badge to be added by a third party in 1978.

Unfortunately, my mum can’t recall the more important detail of that time. Meaning I can’t convey to you how many jelly sweets you can ram in your mouth without them starting to escape through your nostril.

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