Saturday, 1 December 2012


Fantasy Bob marks December with the Four Seasons' disco classic December 1963 (What a Night).

This song was released in December 1975 and topped the UK chart in February 1976.  It has been filling dance floors ever since.  Or emptying them when FB gets up and does his stuff.

But for cricketers, late December 1963 is memorable for only one thing - Sir Jack Hobbs died on 21 December 1963 at the age of 81.  It is remarkable - but to their credit - that an ensemble such as the Four Seasons should mark this solemn occasion so.  For cricket is not notable in the rest of their work  (although Let's Hang On may be a song about the challenges of slip catching).

However even they were bound to acknowledge the greatness of Hobbs - chosen in 2000 as one of the Wisden Players of the Century and the all time England XI and all time World XI. Hobbs' Test average of 56.94 remains the fifth best among batsmen to have passed 5,000 runs.   He finished with 61,237 first-class runs and 199 centuries. Half his hundreds came when he was over 40, and he is the oldest man to score a Test century.  He was a mere youth of 46 when he scored 142 at Melbourne on 8 March 1929.  In 1953 he became the first professional cricketer to be knighted.

FB is confident that his world wide readership knowledgeable as they are in these matters are fully familiar with the detail of Hobbs' career so he need not say more.  There are excellent biographies - FB enjoyed John Arlott's elegant 1981 Profile of the Master many years ago and in 2011 a definitive biography by Leo McKinstry was published which is on FB's Christmas list.

Meanwhile Frankie Valli, the unmistakable falsetto lead singer of the Four Seasons, still tours with a band of that name.  As FB understands it they continue to overlook cricket as a subject for songs.  This makes December 1963 all the more remarkable.

In the words of another great Four Season's hit of 1975 Who Loves You?

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