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George Macaulay: The Road to Sullom Voe
by Giles Wilcock
George Macaulay is the fourth-highest wicket-taker for Yorkshire in first-class cricket. On Test debut for England in 1923, he took a wicket with his first ball, returned figures of 5-64, and hit the winning runs in a tense one-wicket victory. Yet, today, he is almost forgotten.
Those who played alongside him for Yorkshire remembered Macaulay with a certain awkwardness. Why did he have such a strained relationship with his team-mates? Why did he have so few opportunities at Test level? Why did his career go into rapid decline after 1927, while he was still a fairly young man? What went wrong with his benefit match? And why did he have so many financial difficulties that he was declared bankrupt in 1937? The answers to these and other questions lie in his death on active service on the mainland of Shetland in 1940, not from pneumonia, as often reported, but from the effects of long-term alcoholism.
This book – the first full-length biography of Macaulay – examines the life of this complex and difficult man, from his upbringing in the North Yorkshire town of Thirsk, through the trauma of the First World War, to his emergence as a key player in the great championship-winning Yorkshire side of the 1920s. It also offers a glimpse inside that remarkable dressing room with its many larger-than-life personalities.
Drawing on a range of evidence, it pieces together the story of a man who challenged many cricketing conventions of his time and never accepted that professionals should meekly ‘know their place’. But Macaulay’s caustic sense of humour and aggressive on-field demeanour limited his opportunities for England, while his battles with the Yorkshire committee and a careless attitude to money led ultimately to his financial ruin.
Acknowledging that many questions remain unanswered, Giles Wilcock tells the story of a man who made a significant contribution to inter-war cricket but remained an outsider throughout his career.