Andrew Flintoff returns to Preston to form cricket team
- Credit: BBC/ South Shore/Ross Cooke
The England cricketing legend returns to his home town for a new BBC show and visits a few local cricket grounds.
Freddie Flintoff's Field Of Dreams sees the former England all-rounder return to his home town of Preston to start a new cricket team with an unlikely group of teens.
In the last Ashes series, two thirds of the England squad were privately educated - but Flintoff broke the norm, rising from a working-class background to become one of the world’s most famous cricketers.
Flintoff was determined to prove that anyone, whatever their background, can find confidence, camaraderie and success playing the sport he loves.
'Freddie' heads to the suburbs of Preston, home of the Fulwood and Broughton Cricket Club to meet the prospective players for his team. The Highfield ground has been the home ground of the Northern League side since the 1930s, although it is thought that the club's first entity goes back as far as the early 1900s.
Many of the locals youths selected to appear in the programme have never played the sport before or know little about the rules,of the games and Flintoff is initially faced with a wall of skepticism and negativity.
The ultimate aim for Flintoff is to train his new team and get them ready to take on an elite private school. Later on in the series, the team pay a visit to the a ground that can lay claim to one of the picturesque cricket grounds in the world.
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The King George V Playing Field is the home to Patterdale Cricket Club, it's located in Glenridding, surrounded by of some the Lake District's finest landscapes at the southern tip of Ullswater,
There are over 500 King George's Fields across the country, from playing fields to green spaces, which were established as a national memorial to King George V who passed away in 1936.
Flintoff grew up in Lauderdale Road, Ribbleton, the son of a plumber and went to Greenlands Primary School and Ribbleton Hall High School, now the City of Preston High School; both schools that didn’t play cricket.
He inherited his love of cricket from grandfather Harry who still sells programmes on match days at St Annes Cricket Club and his father Colin, and he was just six years old when he made his debut for the Under 14s side at Dutton Forshaw where his dad used to play in the Second XI. He was just six and he was out first ball. He wasn’t put off, though and a couple of years later Colin arranged for him to have a trial with Lancashire where he made his way through the ranks alongside his exploits with St Annes.
The transition from club to county to country was all going so smoothly but his life away from the pitch almost stumped his ambitions. He was eating, and particularly drinking, too much and his weight ballooned. His size exaggerated a back problem and there were genuine fears for his career but he was pulled back from the brink by manager Chubby Chandler and former Lancashire favourite Neil Fairbrother.
After a poor performance the pair found Flintoff, by then known as Freddie because of his similarity to cartoon character Fred Flintstone, slumped disconsolately in the dressing room at Old Trafford. They explained in simple terms he had to make a choice; knuckle down and lay off the booze, or risk throwing away his enormous potential.
He was one of the stars of the England side that won the thrilling Ashes series in the summer of 2005. Shortly after this, he won the BBC Sports Personality of the Year and was awarded an MBE in the New Year's honours list and has been granted the Freedom of Preston
His post cricket career in the media has been just as glittering, he became a team captain on the Sky One television sports panel show A League of Their Own, hosted by James Corden and was one of the main presenters of the popular Top Gear show.
Freddie Flintoff's Field Of Dreams is a three part series showing on BBC One and BBC Iplayer with the first episode airing on Tuesday, 5 July at 8pm