Bruce Hara is the latest former pro/ player to contribute to our Crimble Memories section.
In early 1999, I was introduced by an acquaintance to the Chairman of Heywood CC, David Fare. I think the club may have been short of funds at the time and seeking a lower profile, cheap option and I certainly fit that bill!! I’d played the 1997 season at Barnoldswick in the Ribblesdale League so had a decent understanding of the CLL and what to expect.
Upon arrival David picked me up from the airport and we went straight to Oldham Football Club to meet Dave Cross who I was staying with while the Queens Park Road digs were being finalised. Christine and the family were on holidays at the time, so Dave introduced me to the highlights of Bury most nights which was an experience I’ll always have to look back on…..Crossy was also a specialist at your frozen dinner and I had a wide variety of choice and he had the microwave timing down to a fine art. He also introduced to the fine local curry houses and I was taken aback by how hot the green beans are in the Northern Hemisphere.
My first impression of Crimble was the size of it. It more resembled an Australian ground which pleased me immensely as I thought it would be harder for batsmen to hit me for 6 and generally I kept the ball on the ground whilst batting. I really enjoyed playing at the ground, Crimble is by far the best ground in the CLL, a credit to the club and an advantage I’m sure the club will continue to foster.
In my two years at the club, we unfortunately did not achieve any success by way of league or cup wins. We had a young and developing playing list and a regular turnover of players which made it difficult to gain consistency or continuity of performance. The exception to this young list was the Captain and Chairman who still shuffled his Zimmer frame 8 steps and sent down some wily left arm orthodox. In terms of other players there was a young, up and coming Bobby Cross, the ever rotund wicket taking machine Chris Kaye, the even more rotund Wilkie, the legend Mark Wright, Scoop, young and old Woodward, and the odd appearance by John Heywood, Dogs Slawson and I’m sure a number of others who I’ve missed.
Along with Bobby, there were a number of other young players in the junior and youth squads at the time who subsequently came through and played in a very successful era for the club.
My overriding memory of my time at Heywood is that of wonderfully welcoming and friendly people, volunteers who contributed a huge amount of time and effort at the club and a great sense of fun and competitive spirit.
Win or lose the club bar always had a number of friendly faces willing to chat about the days play and John Farrar was always very kind to me with his passionate brand of support. I was indebted to the support of the Cross family while I was there and the friendships of John Heywood and Steve & Dave Edwards.
NOTE: I’ve included the averages from Bruce’s two seasons with us below.
Bruce was a cracking lad who played at a difficult time for the club when we were in a real period of transition. Not only did he fill the role of a model pro – drinker, eye for the ladies etc – but he had a cracking sense of humour and kept us going in a difficult time.
He underplays himself tremendously in this piece, as he was actually a fine, if orthodox batsman. He also had to cope with some ragtag characters (myself, mainly!) and kept his cool despite some shoddy team performances. In a better team he’d have scored far more runs, but I certainly have some great memories of powerful drives and that typical Aussie ability to smash the ball through the leg side. I also remember nights out in the Basement, I think it was called, and good sessions at the club.
Her was also the first man I saw bowl what Bruce calls ‘The Long Ball’ – bowled from a yard behind the crease. He dismissed two internationals with that ball – one Wavell Hinds, the other I can’t remember even though he told me recently!
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