Among the myriad joys of the Feversham Cricket League is that, with a little bit of help, it’s possible to access matches via the North Yorkshire Moors Railway from Grosmont to Pickering.

Among the downsides, indeed the only downside, is that Grosmont is accessed by Northern Rail, recently named 24th in a customer satisfaction survey among Britain’s 25 train operating companies

Heaven help the 25th.

We’re only as far as Middlesbrough, change for the Esk Valley line, when a great gantry of excuses – safety issues, engineering failure, staff shortage – is signalled for lateness and non-appearance.

It’s a humid day, many intending passengers in shorts. One wears a three-piece suit in what must be termed Teesside tartan. He looks like Captain Mainwaring’s twin brother, he who travelled in jokes and novelties.

The train’s 20 minutes late, further delayed at Nuuthorpe and then for another 25 minutes at Glaisdale because – and this is pretty much what the conductor says – the signalman down the line thinks the train’s been cancelled and so doesn’t believe it’s standing there, as the column’s old Aunty Betty used to say, like one o’clock half struck.

The conductor keeps talking of “slight delays” and of “hiccups”. Wasn’t there a Pope who died of hiccups? Maybe it’ll happen to Northern Rail.

The elder bairn’s also entrained. His mate Crimbo, headed south-east to the match from Northallerton, texts as he’s leaving work at 4.30pm to report that it’s bucketing. Soon it’s pouring on the NYMR, too, the locomotive rhythmic, the thunder cacophonous.

It’s customary for steam engines to take on water at Goathland; had they done so this Wednesday afternoon, the water would have won.

Storm abated, we’re met at Pickering by Charles Allenby, the Feversham League’s endlessly enthusiastic secretary, whose plan is to head to Slingsby along some of the less-traversed roads in that part of Ryedale.

Charles seems a little uncertain of his bearings, not least when we pass through Marton for a second time – and neither of them the one now stitched seamlessly to Middlesbrough. “You won’t have been down these roads before,” he says.

“That’s funny,” booms the elder bairn’s voice from the back, “I could have sworn we were here half an hour ago.”

Slingsby v Rosedale Abbey wasn’t first choice. That was to have been Lockton, league newcomers, but they’d called off the day previously, unable to raise a team. Charles understood.

Lockton’s a few miles outside Pickering on the Whitby road and, presumably, as pretty as a picture. The Yorkshire Post reported in 2018 that 12 of its 200 permanent resident were professional artists (though not, of course, tarred with the same brush.)

Further research reveals little save for a report in the Malton Messenger, 100 years ago next month, about the Saltersgate hound trials held outside the village.

A terrier race had been abandoned because none of the entrants finished, Mr Avison’s horse Moonstruck had fallen into a nasty hole during the pony race and had had to be shot, a second hound trial was a poor affair with just one finisher, the otter hounds trail was cancelled due to a poor entry and two people had been seriously injured in separate accidents on the road outside

With that, concluded the Messenger, a most enjoyable day was brought to a close.

Slingsby’s more familiar, a lovely spot between Malton and Helmsley where All Saints church, like something from Rupert Brooke, stands square behind the cricket field.

Earlier columns from there had recorded a 19th century parishioner in the habit of taking his tame jackdaw and magpie to church, the latter in the habit of pecking – though not, of course, thieving – the rector’s sermon notes.

Ron Deaton, visiting from Leeds – he’d hoped to be on the Lockton flyer, too – takes the story rather further up the pecking order. The rector, says Ron, was the Rev William Carter whose son, Edmund Sardinson Carter, introduced the great Lord Hawke to Yorkshire cricket.

Edmund Carter attended Durham School in the 1860s, captained the school cricket team for two summers, won cricket and rowing blues at Oxford wrote hymns, himself became a priest and met Hawke through their mutual involvement with the Yorkshire Gentlemen club.

Though Hawke was born in Lincolnshire – “Yorkshire birth was a convention, not a rule” pleads Ron – he made his debut against the MCC at Scarborough, going on to eight times captain the County Championship winning side, five times to represent England and to be club president for 40 years.

Hawke was known as a disciplinarian, never more memorably than when England fast bowler Bobby Peel took the field for the county in what’s widely accepted as a state of inebriation. Reports that he further disgraced himself by watering the grass – the phrase is euphemistic – are now thought apocryphal, or at least less reliable than the story that when asked to bowl, Peel did so in the diametrically wrong direction.

Hawke ensured that he never played first class cricket again.

Though women are welcome in the Feversham – an artificial inseminator once travelled regularly from Barnard Castle to play for Spout House– Slingsby had seen little of Sally Harrison since our visit in 2009.

They’d been impressed by her bowling, asked if she could turn out again on the Friday. Sally said she had to look after Charlie.

“It doesn’t matter, he can play, too,” they said.

“Not really,” said Sally, “Charlie’s a dog.”

“It doesn’t matter,” said Slingsby, “they’d never realise in Gillamoor.”

Gillamoor are no longer in the league.; The two outcomes are not thought to be connected.

The country lanes being misleading, the match has started by the time that we arrive. Rosedale are batting, an LBM shout in the first over upheld and then overturned on further appeal. “Mebbe not,” the bowler had said.

It might only happen in the Feversham.

It’s a fourth or fifth visit and the crowd’s bigger than ever I’ve seen it. There must be getting on a dozen.

Among the unusual things about Slingsby in the five-team Feversham is that, if unlikely to qualify for honorary membership of the Flat Earth Society, the ground’s pretty much on the level

What’s unique is that it has a bar. “OK to come in?” asks a booted player on the threshold. “So long as you don’t kick t’cat,” says the barman.

Rosedale thrash 140-4 from their 16 overs, James Megson, James Dunn and Neil Adams all scoring 40s. The elderly scoreboard seems somehow to keep up though – a bit like the Marie Celeste – none can be seen spinning the tins.

“Mebbe its one of them digital jobs,” someone says, improbably, while devouring a barbecued bacon butty ambrosial in its excellence.

In the copse behind there’s a parliament of rooks, or possibly a murder of crows. An identification parade ensues. “If you see a crow in a crowd it’s a rook and if you see a rook on its own it’s a crow,” someone says.

Someone else recalls the line about oak before ash there’ll be a splash, but that’s nothing to do with cricket.

That Slingsby fall predictably short is despite a magnificent 76 from opening bat Richard Reynolds, the league’s highest score of the season, in a total 97-4.

Henry, Richard’s little lad, is six that day. Afterwards there’s cake and candles to sit alongside the bacon sandwiches.

Ron Deaton had been among 20,000 at the T20 at Headingley the previous evening, loved the atmosphere and the excitement – “but this,” he added, “is just perfect.”