Scaring people….

Not absolutely sure about the timeframe on this, but all I remember was that I wasn’t in a good place. I was having all sorts of dark thoughts, my self esteem was through the floor, and I’d taken to Facebook to express how I was feeling. Thinking back, it was the middle of summer, but can’t pinpoint a year. My memory playing tricks, now that is unusual!

As I said, it wasn’t a good time. One night, it must have been around 1 or 2 in the morning I suppose, my emotions overflowed. I got my phone, went on to Facebook and gave full vent to my spleen. It was pretty graphic, pretty horrifying and I was so low that I couldn’t muster any shred of self respect.

I eventually got to bed, and received a text message the following morning from an acquaintance of mine who saw the message. She was horrified that I could write in such graphic and revealing detail, and was worried for my well being. Along with her daughter, she invited me out for a meal that afternoon. I was still in a bad place, but the empathy she showed will always stay with me. I came home from the meal feeling a little bit better.

Was the graphic posting on Facebook a cry for help? I suppose it was. I needed some people to see what was going on. My life was heading nowhere fast and this was my way of expressing this frustration and anger. It wasn’t clever, it wasn’t very smart to do this. But when your mind has gone, rationality goes out of the window.

I like to think that I’ve calmed down on the social media front, and I have other avenues where to express my feelings, like peer support group, and my CBT counsellor. Going off the handle like that wasn’t me; and I do think before I act now. That horrible evening, I wasn’t thinking. That’s how screwed up I was. Facebook is a tool I only use now to communicate about sport and social activities, and not to vent my spleen about my private life. It can cause problems.

Older, wiser? Don’t you believe it!

Thanks for dropping by

Allen Brooks xx

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My first….umpiring decision

1987. My first year of umpiring cricket. I was only 14 years of age at the time, but fancied donning the white coat and enjoying some cricket.

My first ever decision, you may or may not be surprised to hear, was a wrong one. It was my schools cricket trials day. Loads of lads of similar age were taking part in a practice match to ascertain whether they were good enough to play for the school team.

I enthusiastically made myself available to umpire and my first ever decision was to adjudge a lad leg before wicket to a ball pitching a foot outside leg stump. This of course was incorrect, and the lad in question made sure I knew I had cost him a place in the school team. His Dad was an umpire, and no doubt would have revelled in my misfortune.

I like to think I have got better at decision making on the cricket field over the years! But 30 years ago, I started with a mistake. To err is human, to forgive is divine, and I think I’ve been forgiven quite a lot down the years. I wonder where the poor unfortunate batsman I gave out wrongly is now?

Allen Brooks xx

A happy ending…

The evening just gone has seen the last week of the refresher courses on the new laws of cricket. By and large, with the occasional hiccup, it has gone very well indeed.

To give some context, up until six weeks ago, no one knew what form these refresher courses were going to take, or if they were to happen at all. With a little bit of behind the scenes planning, the tutor team have covered all what we wanted to cover, absolutely on the button so we would finish on 27th November, i.e. today.

It was planned, but the form of the Monday nights themselves were a little ad lib as well. As I said, bar the occasional hiccup, it has gone very well and the attendees have taken away some new information ready for the next outdoor season in 2018. We’ve averaged about 30 people per session, so as chairman, I’m absolutely delighted.

We’ve got a couple of spare weeks with some extra features to send the troops home happy before the Christmas break. Very content with what we’ve done.

Allen Brooks xx

Royal Celebrations…

On a day when it has been announced that Prince Harry is to get married next year, some memories have been evoked of royal celebrations when I was a child.

First of all, June 1977. I still have the pictures to prove how much of a munchkin I was at the age of 4. The whole estate where I lived had a party in the playground to celebrate the Queen’s Silver Jubilee. I remember the day being typically summer like, cool and damp, and I also remember dashing in and out of the stalls and tables that were diligently laid out. Mother was there to keep an eye on me, and she must have felt the cold too as she had a big coat on. It was a joyous celebration for the reigning monarch, and everyone had a good time.

Fast forward to July 1981, and a hot afternoon saw the estate’s mass of humanity turn out for another royal celebration. It was the wedding of Charles and Diana. Another joyous day and I was eight years old then. No need for warm coats and anoraks that day, it was blissful and the country was in a state of celebration anyway. The England cricket team were on their way to a momentous Ashes triumph versus the old enemy Australia.

Also that year, we had gone on holiday to Eastbourne and all was well with the Brooks household…..until another fateful day later that summer. More later.

Allen Brooks xx

Returning to umpiring…when I’m ready.

Afternoon. Not in the best fettle today. I had a lot of sleep yesterday and that has manifested itself in over tiredness, so today is a bit of a struggle to be honest.

Been asked recently as to why I’m not umpiring any cricket at the moment. The reason is, I’ve lost some confidence and interest in umpiring. The spark seems to be missing at the moment, and despite witnessing some good games as a spectator, there’s something inside my over fertile imagination that’s stopping me from donning the white coat and getting out there.

A fellow umpire last week said “You should be back umpiring League cricket on Saturdays during the summer”. I’ve got several reasons as to why League cricket is strictly off limits for me. I tried to return in 2013, against my better judgement. Despite being an umpire of good experience, I just didn’t enjoy the games or the behaviour of the players. I just don’t think I possess that special quality of controlling others. I may have been able to give decisions and to know the laws, but controlling blokes that want to dispute things is very hard work.

Also, as has been the case since 2010, I’ve missed large chunks of the outdoor season due to illness, sometimes anxiety, sometimes depression, sometimes both. I can’t commit to umpiring week in, week out like I used to if mental health issues keep interfering with my progress. So that’s another reason behind not officiating at present.

I can take some solace in the fact that I can do a good job once out there, but I’m worried about making mistakes and taking criticism. And making that step to go out there and face the flak is something I just can’t do at the moment. Crossing the rubicon I think it’s called. Some people can deal with criticism, some cannot. I’m in the cannot category, at present.

Also, cricket used to be the be all and end all of my life for so many years. I have other things going on these days, like volunteering, doing stuff around mental health and the like. Umpiring isn’t high on my list of priorities, like it once was. I still tutor new umpires and am putting something back into the training and retention of umpires. But that’s the limit at the present moment.

This morning, I went to watch some indoor cricket. One of the umpires felt bad because I was just spectating and not being involved umpiring wise. He has no need to feel bad as to be honest, I wasn’t in a get up and go frame of mind today, and the spark needed to go out in the middle is currently dormant. What it will take to rekindle the flame? At the moment, I’m not sure.

So there you have it. Are my umpiring days numbered? Wait and see. No confidence, no interest.

Allen Brooks xx

Life is full of pleasant surprises…

Got a nice surprise on allenbrooks44.wordpress.com today, aside from the 13 countries looking in. A former English professional cricketer has been liking some of the stuff I’ve been writing and I’ve made contact with him today. His name – Nathan Wood.

Nathan used to play for Lancashire in the 1990s, and is the son of former England international Barry Wood. Nathan is now a motivational speaker on sport and is a cricket coach as well. In fact, he joins a few ex-professional and current professional players that I’m connected to on various social media platforms. That’s not bad for a bloke like me who has come from a modest background, to keep in touch with players past and present indicates that cricket has one big happy family.

That’s one thing that makes me very proud, cricket has been a source of joy, of pain, of disgust, of pleasure and full of wonderful people. I’m glad to still be involved, albeit on a lesser scale than before. Best sport in the world!

If you want to follow Nathan Wood here on WordPress, follow the link here nathanwood.consulting that’s after looking in to mine of course!

Thanks for dropping by.

Allen Brooks xx

The Crying Game…

Summer of 2009. At the time, I was married. I wasn’t on top form. I was still umpiring cricket, and that wasn’t going well either.

My cricket club had a big match in around the June of that year. A team full of former club veterans were taking on a present club side. Myself and my close umpiring mate were doing the game.

The previous day saw myself involved in an incident on the field that saw myself the subject of plenty of ridicule. So much so in fact, that I almost pulled out of this particular game. In fact I didn’t want to know the club, the game of cricket or anything to do with it. I won’t go into the incident involved to protect the anonymity of others, but it shook my integrity and my competence to the very foundations.

I got to the club for this special game, and my mood wasn’t the best. The ridicule was still continuing, and I thought the best thing to do was to go home. My colleague was with me, and I broke down in the dressing room. I couldn’t go out there and perform to my utmost if others were analysing my every move.

My mate tried to reassure me. “Come on Allen”, he tried to reason, “you’re the best umpire I’ve ever seen, I’ve learnt such a lot from you”. Those very kind and profound words shook me out of my upset and I started to settle down and focus on the game. I must say I didn’t feel like “the best umpire he’s ever seen”, but I went out and did the game.

Were things changing? Was my world about to collapse totally? It would be another year before I would find out. This was the beginning. The reputation I had built up was being ripped apart, dissected and thrown back at me. My confidence at umpiring has taken such a hit that I won’t ever reach those giddy heights I managed in the late 1990s to early 2000s. So much so in fact that my latest break from umpiring has been six months. I have no confidence, and the early seeds of doubt were sown eight years ago.

Best umpire? Not anymore….

Thanks for dropping by

Allen Brooks xx