We traveled up in my Dad's Ford Anglia most of the time, the one that he'd got when he passed his driving test after a few years on a motor bike. The latter wasn't much use to get the four of us around, so his first car was special and lasted us for around nine or ten years from 1967.
We lived at Ripley until 1970, when Dad's work at the pit meant a move to a council house only a mile away from it, one they still live in to this day. It didn't matter too much which house we left from, as a trip to Buxton was a fairly long haul either way.
I enjoyed the drive up there, the anticipation of the game ahead keeping my mind off car sickness, something that affected me throughout childhood (for that matter to some extent until I started to drive myself). I enjoyed the scenery en route and we'd listen to the radio as we chatted, the classic sounds of the era with me to this day. Let's Go To San Francisco, I Can't Let Maggie Go, Build Me Up Buttercup - in my mind's eye these tunes played on repeat, though they will have been a small percentage of the ones we listened to and only for a year or so. I loved them all, though my old man's preference would have been music from an earlier vintage; big bands, Crosby, Sinatra, Mills Brothers, Ink Spots.
The Bowl at Buxton was special as we'd made that special effort to get there, though Dad always studied the weather before we set off. It seemed to have its own climate, as evidenced by that freakish day of snow there on June 2, 1975. We didn't go up there that day (Dad was pretty good at this weather lark by that stage...) but we'd been on the Saturday, when Lancashire racked up 477-5 in the day, with Clive Lloyd hitting 167. The great West Indian slaughtered us and I remember sixes going to all corners. Having checked up on it, at one point he hit seven sixes in the course of 50 runs scored and he was especially severe on a young Geoff Miller, whose 14 overs went for 94 runs.
Our first trip had been exciting and perhaps fueled my love of the game, with what was a fairly ordinary Derbyshire batting side hitting 400-4 on the first day against Somerset (a strange venue for such a game) in 1968. Both Mike Page and Derek Morgan scored centuries in what was as close to cavalier batting as we saw in those days, then, after good bowling by Brian Jackson and Harold Rhodes we finally won by just two wickets after being only set 70-odd to win. It was a game that emphasised the uncertainty of Derbyshire batting, though I would have to say the latter was more typical of my early experiences...
In 1969 we went up for another game against Somerset, but this time in the fledgling John Player League. Forty overs on a Sunday afternoon, starting at 2pm. Lovely. We only made 151 but quick bowling by Alan Ward and Harold Rhodes reduced them to 38-6, the wickets including a young Greg Chappell, who had a season of contrasts ahead of a glittering international career. We won by 52 runs, with Rhodes returning figures of 8-3-11-3 and Fred Rumsey, who had left Somerset at the end of the previous season and had joined Derbyshire for a one-day deal, had 8-3-14-2. Any resemblance to modern one-day cricket was accidental.
1970 saw another Sunday game but Lancashire thrashed us in the game I referred to earlier in the week, making 229-5 in 39 overs, way ahead of par at that time. Among the carnage, Phil Russell bowled a very good 8 overs for just 20 from the pavilion end, but Peter Eyre's seven overs went for 75, in stark contrast to his Queens Park heroics of the previous year's Gillette Cup semi-final. We only made 115 in reply, with Wilkins hitting some brave blows, including the massive straight six I referred to the other night, before hitting a huge skyer that Jack Bond took with ease.
We were beaten there again in 1971, which was when Brian 'Tonker' Taylor of Essex hit the first Sunday century I saw. They were not far short of 200 and despite a vigorous 71 from Ian Buxton we lost out by around 20 runs in a rain-reduced game of thirty overs a side.
We didn't go up in 1972 as the weather was poor and both the Sunday and championship matches there that season were washed out, but in 1973 we saw Glamorgan beaten by one run in a thrilling finish as their batting fell apart when it seemed impossible to lose. Venkat and Mike Hendrick bowled well in that one but the running of the Glamorgan batsmen at the death lives with me to this day as shambolic.
The last game we saw at Buxton was in 1976, the first day against Lancashire of an extraordinary match. We did well to bowl them out for 290 on the first day, but were 72-5 at the end of the day and in big trouble. I remember us coming home in the car and Dad muttering 'bloody rubbish' on a regular basis as we talked about the play, ignoring earlier good bowling by Keith Stevenson, who took five wickets.
On the second day we followed on and got to the close at 224-6, around seventy ahead with Eddie Barlow injured and unlikely to bat. Yet bat he did and on the last day he made a typical 73, batting at number nine, which left Lancashire 202 to win. A very well balanced attack put them out for 186 and a win by fifteen runs. Barlow was unable to bowl, but Hendrick and Stevenson did well before Geoff Miller and Fred Swarbrook tied up the win with their spin.
That was it at Buxton until 1980, but by then I was on the verge of moving to Scotland after my degree. Matches were sporadic thereafter, but the last county game there was in August 1986, when we were again in action against Lancashire in - surprise, surprise - a rain affected draw.
They were great days, fun days, with memories of portable toilets, spartan facilities, ice creams, tarpaulin sightscreens but good, competitive cricket.
Not to mention a lot of laughs and music with my old man in that Anglia...