It’s unusual for a sports official like a referee or an umpire to achieve the same iconic status as the players. But anyone who knows cricket knows the name Harold “Dickie” Bird.
Bird’s now retired from his role as an international cricket umpire, but when he was active, he was one of the best-loved and most highly respected sports officials ever to take on the often controversial role. There’s no doubt that in the game of cricket, he was—and remains—a legend because of both his attention to detail and the unflinchingly fair way he oversaw the games.
In Bird’s umpiring career (which started in the domestic game in 1970), he officiated more than 66 multi-day Test matches (a world record at the time) and 69 one-day international matches (including three World Cup Finals). Though Bird retired in 1998, he came out of retirement for a special match in 2007.
In 2009, this life-size bronze statue of Bird was erected in his hometown of Barnsley. The statue, which was built by Graham Ibbotson, shows him standing in a familiar pose: one arm outstretched and pointing his index finger, indicating that a batsman is out.
It’s perhaps inevitable that this pose has regularly attracted the attention of rowdy late night revelers, particularly on Friday and Saturday nights. Bras, panties, and condoms were frequently left dangling from the outstretched finger on Dickie’s right hand. In 2013, the authorities in Barnsley raised the statue from its ground-level position onto a five-foot high plinth to discourage the pranksters. But this has not proved completely successful, as the odd, inappropriate item does still make its way onto the outstretched digit.
Visit England with Atlas Obscura Trips
London Science Weekend: Medicine and Science in the Press
Join New York Times Journeys and Atlas Obscura for three days of scientific learning, special access and exploration in London. Accompanied by Times journalists and scientific experts, meet people contributing to the history of medicine and scientific journalism. This two-track program includes panels, exclusive visits and access to some of the best scientific minds available to concentrate on science reporting or medical history.