Cricket at Fitz Park, Keswick

The charming sight of a game of cricket played at Fitz Park, Keswick to the background of some of England’s highest mountains.
The match between Keswick CC and Wigton CC is still undecided as the shadows lengthen. Wigton won by 11 runs, but the players’ calls remind me (particularly with the commemorations this week of the Normandy Landings) of Henry Newbolt’s bitter poem about an earlier war.

“Vitaï Lampada”

There’s a breathless hush in the Close to-night—
Ten to make and the match to win—
A bumping pitch and a blinding light,
An hour to play and the last man in.
And it’s not for the sake of a ribboned coat,
Or the selfish hope of a season’s fame,
But his captain’s hand on his shoulder smote
“Play up! play up! and play the game!”

The sand of the desert is sodden red,—
Red with the wreck of a square that broke;—
The Gatling’s jammed and the Colonel dead,
And the regiment blind with dust and smoke.
The river of death has brimmed his banks,
And England’s far, and Honour a name,
But the voice of a schoolboy rallies the ranks:
“Play up! play up! and play the game!”

This is the word that year by year,
While in her place the school is set,
Every one of her sons must hear,
And none that hears it dare forget.
This they all with a joyful mind
Bear through life like a torch in flame,
And falling fling to the host behind—
“Play up! play up! and play the game!”

                        - Henry Newbolt (1892)