Raby Castle, the North-East’s first recorded cricket venue, hosted a party of elderly Australian tourists last Sunday. Old old story, it poured down.

“A great shame,” said Raby secretary Steve Caygill, “we were looking forward to revenge for that little business at Edgbaston.”

Raby Castle’s near Staindrop in south Durham, staged a match between the Duke of Cleveland’s boys and the Duke of Northumberland’s in 1751, and for very substantial sidestakes.

Peter Jackson, who may know about the Staindrop area than any man alive, recalled even earlier connections with the nobility. King Canute, he reckoned, had a summer palace just a couple of miles up the road.

Where was the old tide turner when they needed him?

The tourists were Victoria Veterans Cricket – the Old Vic, as it were – in the UK for a month and playing everywhere from an Aberdeenshire beach to Blenheim Park, where this afternoon they play the Queen’s household.

The organisers had also planned tours from Japan to Jamaica, Cuba to Canada and are lining up cricket trips to Iran and North Korea.

The night after Raby they were staying at the Scotch Corner Hotel (as was), for four nights afder that on narrow boats on the South Oxfordshire Canal.

Raby, unbeaten this season in the Darlington and District League, had hosted several other Aussie outfits, notably the Wattlesprigs. It’s a shrub, apparently.

Tour organiser Derek Braidner insisted that the postponement was their own fault. “Next time,” he said, “we’ll come in the summer.”

Rained off at Raby, the column headed across the teeming Tees to Cliffe CC, near Piercebridge, where former first team captain Richard Mallender had planned a charity match to mark his 50th birthday.

Such the storm that only something called a tin can challenge had been possible, won by Mr Ian Geldard.

Prepared, Richard had already raised £800 from a Justgiving page, rising to £1,150 with the sale of etes – teas with Taylor’s pies and jammy flapjack. It’ll benefit St Teresa’s hospice in Darlington.

Ten years with Cliffe, formerly at Bedale and Willington, he even insisted on hiring a ground which very happily they’d have given him for nothing.

No matter that they were barely a mile into Yorkshire, said Richard, they were in danger of giving the county a good name.

A funeral service for Kevin Stonehouse, whose Football League and Northern League career was followed by spells as Darlington’s football in the community manager and an international scout at Newcastle United, will be held on Tuesday, August 20 at 10pm at St John’s church, Shildon.

Going soft to clarty, we paraded last Saturday morning at Catterick racecourse – not for the horses but for Sharon Gayter’s return to athletic activity via the 5k parkrun.

As they had throughout the world record from John o’ Groats to Lands End ending just a week before, Sharon and her husband Bill spent the previous night in the back of their van, parked out the back, though they live just an hour away in Guisborough.

“You get sort of used to it,” said Bill.

Started in Surrey in 2004, parkruns are now a global phenomenon – more than five million registered runners in 1,400 Saturday morning locations across five continents.

They are all free, starting at 9am, no pressures and no time constraints, save that the Catterick car park closes at 10.30. All are jingly-jolly, all greatly encouraging, all open to everyone.

The Catterick event appears also to have been adopted by the local Gurkha community, who presented Sharon with a scarf in recognition of her astonishing achievement. They’ve also been known to provide post-event curry.

“There’s no bad time for a Gurkha curry,” said Sharon.

Feet still protesting, she ran it in around 27 minutes, Bill – who has two new hips – for once about 20 seconds faster. He said he’d dine out on it. “It’s not every day you’re ahead of a world champion.”

That afternoon to the FA Cup tie between North Shields and Guisborough Town, the programme revealing that Sunderland Ryhope Colliery Welfare is the only one of this season’s 738 competition entrants with all the letters of “FA Cup” in its name. You read it here second.

Having down the years been president of Darlington College SU, the Greyhound, the Cricketers, the Hole in the Wall, the Model T and the Travellers Rest, the column now finds itself atop the notepaper of Cockerton Club FC.

They’re all the same team, of course, the latest move just 100 yards down the road – “all in the name of cheaper beer,” says Alan Smith, the long-faithful secretary. Whatever may be in a name, they started the new season with a 9-2 win over Evenwood Town.

Alan also reports a new FA rule for clubs at Crook and District League level that, in the event of an unruly touchline, the ref can show a red card to the senior club official in attendance.

“I may be watching matches from the other side of the fence from now on,” he adds.

….and finally, the unusual thing about the record partnerships for all ten wickets in Ashes history (Backtrack, August 10) is that they’re all held by Australia.

Kieran Tierney’s arrival at Arsenal last week meant that he was the first Scot the Gunners had signed for35 years. Readers are today invited to name the last.

First and last, the column returns next week.