Jun 072020

David Hilton has spent many years enjoying cricket at Crimble and is back after a work related spell in Bahrain. He has taken the time to look back on his experiences and memories of Heywood CC:

David with Roger, Rick and the late Gary Wilkinson

David with Roger, Rick and the late Gary Wilkinson

Do you recall your first memories of HCC?

My dad first took me watching when I was 7. They used to print a programme each game which included a team sheet and a place where you could write their scores. Remember thinking what a strange name Mike Fearnley Pro had and never found out who Mr Extras was as I never saw him bat!

As I got a little bit older a few of us used to have a knock about on the field during the tea interval and also after the game with our dads. Remember timing my buying of a bottle of dandock and a bag of crisps from outside of the old tea rooms to perfection just before tea to maximise time on the field.

Do you recall your debut?

A bit hazy on this! Second team may have been at home to Castleton Moor around 1973/74 – batted at ten and didn’t get many (if any)!

First team I only played 4 or 5 – may have been Radcliffe away – I remember the game only for the fact that I got peppered with short pitched bowling by their pro Steve Dearden and his opening partner who was a bit sharp. Somehow survived around 15 overs but came off with far more bruises than runs!

What do you most remember of those early 2nd team years?

How difficult it was to break into the team as a young player in the mid 70’s and the feeling of privilege when you got there. A lot of ex first team players dropped down in those days so I was in the company of legends that I had previously watched such as Bob Cross, Tommy McConnell, Ralph Farmer and so many others of that era. There were many characters too and with the likes of Phil Wright (captain), Bob O’Keefe, Martin Platt etc it was never dull. As a kid you just sat there quietly, smiling and taking it all in.

What was your favourite match that you played in?

No actual stand out senior matches as such as sadly, team success has been rare. So I have to go back to my U18’s days (known as the 3rd eleven then when games were played in midweek over two nights with no overs limitations).

First one was when I was captain in my last season when we got a draw (dubiously!) in the last game against Littleborough to win the league.

Then in an earlier season, also against Littleborough, when I scored a ton aged 14/15. Phil Wright our manager wanted the committee to buy me a bat in recognition (very few kids had their own bats in those days) but they said no. Phil wasn’t happy about this so at the presentation evening he gave me his club blazer. The thing drowned me as you can imagine but what a nice gesture!

Favourite away ground and why?

I’ll say two:

Werneth – not the most picturesque but I seemed to do well there.

Ashton – I just found the setting and layout so relaxing and peaceful – can’t explain why!

Best Heywood and opposition pro you’ve seen or played with?

Being a second teamer for most of the time I never got to play with or see many – so will have to go back to my earlier days and say Colin Lever – great servant to the club and season after season had stacks of runs and wickets.

Best Heywood and opposition amateur you’ve seen or played with?

The best has to be Bobby – I only played with Bobby in the seconds when he was around the age of 12 (I think) but even then he had the technique, calmness and patience necessary to be successful.

Always loved playing with Mark Wright – capable of match winning knocks on his day and a really top bloke to be around. Always looked on the positive side – you could be seven down needing another 150 and he would still say we could win – or there could be a monsoon at 2pm and Mark would say we will still get on at 4pm!

As for opposition, second teams tend to be a bit too transient to gain impressions so I’ll just mention some guys at Ashton who I always enjoyed playing against – Dave Mellor (stubborn opening bat), Geoff Greenop (slowest loopy leggers ever) and Stan Adshead (captain who did all the donkey work and earned the right to keep wicket and bat 11). They also had a portly old Asian guy who we never knew the name of but Mark and I referred to him as ‘shabby man’ on account of his trainers, his ill fitting ‘white’ trousers and a regular shirt of the type that may once have been Sunday best but faded and got relegated to work attire over the years. Little or no ability but always turned out.

These guys resonated with my own outlook in that they just loved playing cricket and never want their cricket days to end.

Favourite on field memory

Many funny moments but I will pick two, which may not sound funny now but they were at the time and often come to mind:

Roger getting 7 (or was it 8?) consecutive ducks – I think run outs featured heavily. We should really have been concerned for the torture our captain was going through or the fact that the team was losing wickets but no, we just laughed more each time!

Dave Fare was in the process of going through a poor and gullible opposition batting lineup bowling big loopy donkey droppers knowing they would have a yahoo and send a catch to deep mid on. Immediately on taking his 6th or 7th wicket in such fashion a police siren sounded right on cue in Heywood town centre and some wag (think it was CK?) shouted from the side ‘they are coming for you Shag’ – meaning that they were coming to arrest him for stealing wickets! Perfect timing!

Favourite off field memory?

Has to be the pit stops on way home from away games with the core group of ‘oldies’ – Dave, Mark, Rick, Roger (sorry Rog) and myself.

Best one had to be the one after the last game of the season at Royton one year (I think it was Mark’s last game at the time?). Mark arranged food, drink and games at the Tandle Hill Tavern which is in the middle of nowhere. The whole team went including juniors (Sean, Andy, Simon, Wes?) and it was organised with military precision. Even Kev Dawson was lined up to fix a trailer to the back of his car to take all our bags back down to the club! Never really understood why we chose that venue as it was so bleak but….Happy days!

Are you missing the cricket at the moment?

I’ve gone from the aforementioned young kid rushing down his bottle of dandock and crisps itching to get on the field to being an old man stood at first slip itching to get off the field gagging for his dandock and crisps! But like the Ashton guys I mentioned I never want my cricket days to end. HCC is such a special place which should never be taken for granted and let’s hope this pandemic ends soon so that we can all get back down to Crimble to share even more memories.

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 June 7, 2020  Add comments

  3 Responses to “Crimble Memories – David Hilton”

  1. Well done Hilts not bad for a lager drinker!

  2. The thing that shines brightly from playing with Dave is his love for the game and all things Heywood. To have a passionate interest and loyalty for the one club for over 50 years is remarkable and he must have clocked up a huge number of appearances for the club ( even allowing for his years working away ).

    I too remember those very early days in the early / mid seventies. Playing for the 3rd team seemed to be the only thing that mattered in the days when we were 16 and 17. Ric Purser, Kenny Farrar, Martin Longley, Diddy Hilts -and others – what a team. Then there was the Table Tennis in the old tea rooms – same team members representing the club. I remember always getting thrashed in practice, particularly by Dave or Kenny Farrar.
    Living in Hopwood. I also remember the trips to Tommy’s Chippy or the Chinese opposite the Navigation Pub with Hilts and / or Kenny Farrar – after practice or 3rd X1 games.
    Like Dave, I remember how proud we were to play for the second team and how difficult it was to get in the side – there seemed to be a core of much older, ex 1st teamers who weren’t going to let some kid in the side unless they were exceptional at 3rd XI level. Dave was exceptional at 3rd X1 level and we all thought he was the one most likely to make it through the ranks to eventual first team glory. Dave was a prolific run scorer but not known for his bowling prowess. ( Dave perfected a bit of flight and guile in later years to some great effect in the second team )
    Martin Longley as a teenager, I think burst through first as a bowler, but there was hardly a teenage batsman who broke into the first team in those halcyon days.
    I played many happy years in the second team with Hilts, and some of the happiest in the twilight of our careers over the last 15 years.
    Great memories. Cheers Dave

  3. Wow Mark those comments read like all the outtakes that I couldn’t fit in when writing my piece! Truly happy memories of those early and later years.
    When I was around 20 I did actually pack the game in for a while through complete disillusionment over non-selection although secretly I was always checking on the results while away! Thankfully CJ enticed me back – but not being there will probably explain partly why I didn’t ‘make it’ – apart from not being good enough lol!

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