22nd November 2022

Neville Cardus; music in the Manchester Guardian, working for C P Scott; the owner of the newspaper

Neville Cardus was the chief music critic for the Manchester Guardian from 1927 to 1940. He had also been cricket correspondent for the news paper since 1919, and continued in this role, holding positions as a sports (cricket) and music journalist simultaneously. Like his literary hero Charles Dickens, he was prone to hyperbole in his writing style, and some may say that on occasion, he went even beyond that; using his pen to put words into his subjects mouths. In the interests of entertainment, storytelling and colouring the scenery of the landscapes he painted with words, there seems to have been little complaint, from subject or spectator, with one cricketer who became, as many of them did; a friend, claiming that Neville Cardus had invented him. In his younger days Mr Cardus had been an assistant professional, acting as helper to a former county cricketer who was employed as a cricket coach at a school. Neville Cardus came from a modest background, and in his early years; set about educating himself, both in literature and music, which were perhaps his main focus, though cricket was, and is the thing he is known and remembered for. C P Scott had been the editor of the Guardian from 1872 to 1929, and the owner from 1907, until his death in 1932. Mr Scott was a demanding boss who never the less gave Neville Cardus a chance of visiting Old Trafford and writing about what he saw when recovering from illness and a nervous breakdown. Mr Cardus took to cricket, Mr Scott had stumbled on a winning combination, and the rest as they say is history. See A Scapeshifter, a poem from the Lol Cooper Bands book and album, Soul to Sun, which  takes note of the last ten decades, and in part was inspired by the wonderful work of sports journalist Duncan Hamilton, in his book on the Golden Age of Neville Cardus. It seemed appropriate to theme the poem on the game of cricket, which served Mr Cardus as a vehicle to his musical ambitions, and as his first publication; ‘A Cricketers Book’ was printed and put on sale in the extraordinarily creative year of 1922, now 100 hundred years ago; a century for Mr Neville Cardus.