Ashes summer never to forget for Les

THE huge party continues in Australia after another fantastic performance from the England team at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

I will never forget those wonderful scenes of joy and sheer emotion that unfolded on the SCG as England won the Ashes 3-1.

It is always a fantastic achievement to beat Australia in Oz, but winning three tests by an innings is almost as decisive as you can get.

Australia can at least rest assured that "heaps" (a most used word by an Aussie!) of money was handed over the bars by the Barmy Army and the many thousands of poms and ex-pats in Sydney over the past week.

They say it's a small world and how true that is. Every step across this vast country while taking in five city's I have met people from the other side of the world from back home in Hartlepool.

It was great to meet up with another Poolie now ex-pat as we stormed to victory at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

Les Bate and his family packed up and left Hartlepool in 1991 – leaving behind other family members, friends, his beloved Pools and lots of great memories.

He talked with a passion about his time living in Arncliffe Gardens and his love for the boys in blue and white at the Vic.

Just as he was leaving to start a new life in Sydney at the age of 38, Pools were blazing their way to promotion into Division Three with two of Les' heros, Joe Allon and Paul Baker, scoring goals for fun.

Les said his biggest claim to fame at Pools was, with other supporters, voluntarily building the brick wall at the Rink End of the Vic.

He said it was June 1972 and Pools were hard- up for cash so fans had to carry the huge bricks from the demolished Rink Ballroom to assemble the wall.

The manager at the time was Len Ashurst, and his players including Neil Warnock, would take a break from pre-season training to help build it, all under the guidance of groundsman Harry Simpson.

The Rink wall that Les Bate built still remains nearly 40 years on.

But life is different for Les in Australia's biggest city which sees temperatures peaking at 40C and winters reaching lows in their high teens.

Les loves the beach and the outdoor lifestyle in Sydney, with his barbecue never very far away.

The golden beaches are just minutes from the city, whilst the tourists flock to Bondi Beach – Les recommends taking a boat trip from the Sydney Harbour across to the quaint and elegant Manly Beach which he describes as "pure heaven".

Les misses the Vic, but via the Mail website he is just a click away from all the Pools news.

He is still proud to wear his many Poolie shirts around Sydney, they are always what he wants for Christmas.

Les loved being part of England's success here on his patch and said: "This is simply amazing, how lucky are we to be here and part of this.

"After all the years of dominance by the Australians we have totally dominated this summer – I will be reminding my friends over here about this summer for a long, long time."

He particularly wanted to say hello to his many family, friends and the Pools supporters in the town.

"They will be really shocked and surprised to see my picture in the Mail, so I will keep my glasses on," he said.

Back to the Cricket here in Oz – and it was somewhat of a shock to hear the news that Shotley Bridge lad and Sunderland fanatic Paul Collingwood was to quit the England test team – it was announced ahead of the penultimate day of the SCG test.

I was lucky to host several dinners for Colly during his testimonial season for Durham a few seasons ago.

I can tell you he has a great sense of humour and is a total prankster.

If he fancies it, he will do very nicely touring the world and reminiscing about his three Ashes triumphs for England – not many can do that.