Almondbury Wesleyan Cricket Club dreamed big when they decided to try to book superstar Michael Ball for a summer gig … and what a delivery!

Yesterday’s show was the only one Michael was doing anywhere this summer and Huddersfield gave him a fitting tribute with 2,400 people turning up to watch him, bringing along their hampers, chairs, jumpers, blankets, brollies, raincoats, wellies, sunglasses etc etc.

They didn’t need the rain protection gear on the pitch itself. It deluged with rain in the morning but the sun came out and stayed out all afternoon. Probably the best afternoon’s weather so far in what’s been a thoroughly miserable and cold summer.

Nothing miserable about this gig though. The crowd were there to have a good time and they did, pitched in their own individual squares which had been carefully marked out by the club.

The staging was brilliant, the sound excellent and Michael was marvellous. So was warm-up singer, West End star Jenna Lee-James, who has been performing as lead character Elsa in the West End stage version of Disney’s Frozen.

She’s also toured with Hugh Jackman – probably best known for his leading role in The Greatest Showman – on his world arena tour called The Man, The Music, The Show.







Jenna just walked on stage in her unmissable, all-in-one glittery red jumpsuit, welcomed herself and hit it off with an instant connection with the crowd as she blasted out This Is Me from The Greatest Showman, Queen’s Somebody To Love and Tina Turner’s Simply The Best. It didn’t take long for the crowd to be on their feet.

Then the main attraction. No airs and graces here. Suddenly there was a buzz, people looked round and there was Michael simply walking through the crowd to the stage, applauded every step of the way. You don’t get that in your fancy arenas.

He’s one of those artists who builds up a rapport with the crowd which he did from the off.

As he walked on stage he welcomed himself as “your Michael Ball tribute act,” well aware of the confusion early when the gig was announced when people wouldn’t believe a cricket club had actually booked the real Michael Ball.

Well, they had and here was the proof with the man himself introducing each song and having a laugh with the crowd at the same time.

He was clearly enjoying himself as the voice that’s kept him at the top of the musical world for 40 years breezed through songs from Les Misérables and he’ll be part of the cast for the Les Misérables arena tour this autumn marking the musical’s 40th anniversary.

Backed by an orchestral band and three singers, the repertoire included You Can’t Stop The Beat from Hairspray, his number one hit Love Changes Everything, Elvis’ I Just Can’t Help Believin’, Kenny Rogers’ The Gambler, Tom Jones’ I’ll Never Fall In Love Again and a couple from the great musical songwriter Stephen Sondheim, Not While I’m Around from Sweeney Todd and Loving You from Passion.

Michael Ball is 62 at the end of June and remains as good as ever, clearly loving his summer afternoon out in Yorkshire.

“I can’t believe the sun’s shining,” he told the crowd. “I thought we were in Yorkshire.”

Well, you are Michael.



Fields had been opened right next to the cricket club to provide free parking for the hundreds of cars that arrived and some were churned quickly to mud caused by the endless summer rain.

The cricket club members and their supporters guided, pushed, shoved and eventually got everyone on and off the site, covered in mud from head to toe and then applauded the cars as they left.

A nice touch from a friendly club that had achieved the impossible with some considerable style and raised a few bob for the cricket club’s junior section at the same time.

Written by ANDY HIRST who runs his own Yorkshire freelance journalism agency AH! PR ( specialising in press releases, blogging, website content and copywriting. 

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