As a GMCL Board Director I have been asked to give a pen picture of my background and journey through many years of being associated with league cricket.
Whilst thinking about what to write for this pen picture, I thought back to my school days and how cricket has changed from my early days to now. Practice was held on the outfield, if someone arrived early and knew how to start the mower, a strip may be cut and the nets put up around the newly cut strip. Get your kit from the club bag, pads stuffed with horsehair, a towel for a thigh pad and gloves with green spikes on them, oh and my dad’s old white shirt and a sweater knitted by your mum!! Own kit – no way and as for training kit, playing kit – behave. And how I’ve made friends for life from this wonderful game we all love.
So briefly here is my cricket journey. I started playing competitive cricket at the age of 13 for a now defunct team called Hope Congs CC, in Haughton Green, Denton. A lad at school spoke to a few of us as his Dad was setting up a junior section so a few of us joined the club. We played in the Denton & District Junior League which was an under 18’s league so we got a few hammerings early on, but we stuck together and ended up a decent team. I made my debut for the 2nd XI aged 14 and in my first season scored my first 50 at Kerridge CC which was reported in the MEN Pink newspaper for those old enough to remember the Pink, long before social media. I went on to make my debut for the 1st XI aged 15 and scored 43 on my debut. My next season was blighted by a badly broken thumb after being hit on the hand by one of the Whittle brothers who I believe was playing for Shaw St Pauls CC at the time in the old High Peak Cricket League.
At age 18 I moved onto Denton St Lawrence CC in the Lancashire and Cheshire League and enjoyed almost 30 years at the club, playing in some truly great teams and making friends for life. Sadly, a few are not with us anymore. The highlight of my time at DSLCC was to be 1st XI Captain for 10 years and to win the league championship in 1984 and 1989 as Captain. I soon became involved as a cricket administrator taking on the role of Club Secretary from the mid 1980’s until early 1990’s. Following that I had a go at Cricket Chairman and that was a thoroughly enjoyable time with a good committee. Personal milestones, one for the record books, I apparently equalled the record (at that time) for the number of outfield catches in a game and took 5 catches in a game versus Glossop 1st XI but dropping an absolute dolly at long off which would have given me the record outright!! At least we won the game.
After finishing playing in 2004, I moved to Denton West CC to watch my stepson Andy O’Brien and became involved as a Committee Member and still am to this day. I quickly decided I needed more than just to watch cricket, so I decided to take up umpiring. In 2010 I joined the Lancashire County League panel, developed further skills by attending ECB ACO courses.
My introduction to League administration came via an invite from Bob Hinchliffe then Secretary of the Lancashire and Cheshire League to join the Management Committee of the League in 1992. This was a particularly difficult period as the Lancashire County League was in its embryonic stages and only a certain numbers of clubs would be invited to join the new Lancashire County League. Following the formation of the Lancashire County League I was a Management Committee member. In early 2000’s I took over the role of Disciplinary Secretary for the League and continued in that role until being appointed Vice Chairman of the League succeeding my dear friend Jeff Walton who sadly passed away in 2013. From that role came my involvement with the discussions with other local leagues and the formation of the GMCL. I along with Ian Pickles, then Chairman of the Lancashire County League joined the steering group to look at the structure of a new league bringing in many clubs to move cricket in Greater Manchester to a different level.
So, now I am the Umpires Director and Chair the GMCL Umpires Association Committee which is a brilliant group to work with and we are striving to improve umpiring standards year on year. I am also Secretary of the Lancashire ACO and a tutor on umpires’ courses so you could say I am heavily involved in umpiring!! (And for those of you who know me heavily is an appropriate word).
Would I change anything? No thanks I’ve enjoyed every minute and hope there are many more memories in the future.