As Greg Chappell came on to bowl the delivery that Boycott still cherishes and remembers vividly, Boycott described the moment as “In the millisecond it took for the ball to leave Chappell’s hand, I knew the shot I’d play to it; I knew where the ball was going; I knew it would bring up my century. I saw the delivery in striking clarity, almost in High Definition. And I played it as though I was standing outside myself; actually watching myself get into position for the on-drive. I got it in the middle of the bat, and I watched the ball zip past the non-striker, Graham Roope, who leapt out the way.”
There were officially 22,000 spectators in the ground, but as Boycott had moved closer to his ton, the club opened the gates to let more people inside.
Terry Brindle wrote in The Yorkshire Post: “Hundreds of youngsters, and many of their fathers, too, enveloped a hero they had long waited all day to acclaim. He was swallowed from view, trying desperately to shake a hundred hands at once, trying equally desperately not to be hoisted on to a dozen pairs of shoulders. And when the more delirious of his admirers left, Boycott faced a swell of congratulation which echoed and re-echoed round the ground until it seemed it would never end.”
The landmark was celebrated by the crowd, as the play was held up for about ten minutes, during which the Aussies sat on the outfield.
One of the spectators, Freda Watson told The Yorkshire Post “My dad had a full pint of Tetley’s. When Geoff struck the on drive, my dad and I and the rest of the crowd jumped in the air. However, my dad slipped and poured the entire pint of Tetley’s down the neck of the lady sitting in front. She didn’t notice for at least 15 minutes “.
Play resumed soon after, and Boycott ended the day unbeaten on 110.
He returned to the dressing room, which was full of people wanting to congratulate him. He soon slipped away for dinner and had a glass of champagne for the celebration. “It was only in the days that followed that I realised how many people had become caught up in the drama.”
Resuming batting the next day, Boycott scored 191 before being the last batsman to be dismissed. A strong foundation was laid for England bowlers to proceed and force an innings victory and with which England getting an unassailable 3-0 lead in the Ashes.
Boycott also achieved a unique distinction of being present on the field for the entire duration of the match, becoming only the fourth English player to do so.
By excelling at Headingley, his home ground, he also laid down the tradition of Yorkshire players doing well at the ground, most recent of which was Joe Root‘s maiden Test century for England against New Zealand, on his first international appearance at the stadium.
It was on the magical day of August 11, 1977 when Geoffrey Boycott created history and had managed to achieve the fairy-tale achievement of scoring his landmark century on his home ground, which has rightly found its way into the cricketing folklore.
Here’s a video clip of the momentous occasion: