Geoff Lawson looks back on his favourite game for the club:
My favourite was definitely not the final game of the season against Walsden when we were “ rained off “ needing 2 wickets to win the Championship! Walsden were 8 down when a steady trickle that failed to halt any other game during the season , forced the umpires to abandon…. Having spent 5 months playing cricket seemingly constantly in the rain, this decision smacked of largesse, but I digress (and am nearly over it in any case).
Maybe my best game came against Ashton at their home ground Under-Lyne versus the wily DV Parker, a master of the soft, slow pitch. It having rained all week (apart from 30 minute between 2:40 and 3:10 pm on the previous Thursday) Parker was sure to have the local conditions in his favour. If it had of been Aussie club cricket both teams would have mutually retired to the local waterhole around noon – this being Lancashire we soldiered on prepared for mud and squelch and cold, soggy socks.
The main talking point before and whilst in transit to Ashton was the rumoured presence of world famous soccer / football proponent and former Heywood CC all rounder David Cross. This being high summer (a loose term invented by Saxon invaders circa 11th Century) the West Ham striker was on sabbatical from the eventual 599 Premier League appearances – he remarkably scored 223 league goals, exactly the same amount of victims he took for Heywood across all teams. A big crowd was expected just to see him sign autographs and give a tea time demonstration of flicking past the near post from corner kicks while surreptitiously accosting the goal keeper.
The picturesque ground was spoiled only by the Oldham train line that ran beyond the far sightscreen (that was later to become a target for some lofted stroke play.)
Having lost the toss we were asked to bat and we did this about as poorly as possible, Parker and Thomas being as frugal as the Heywood Chairman negotiating his staff’s wages (or that of the destitute Optometry student professional from a land far away.) The Australian amateur from Kalgoorlie got a first baller and ‘Wally Devine shortly followed Jimmy (a stubborn and valuable 31) and Ralph along with Gary Wright to have the scoreboard attendant shuffling the wicket plate quicker than a Tory advisor shooting up the motorway for ‘family ‘reasons. 5-48 with 24 overs remaining ….. hmm, time to dig in with Graddie and see if we could scrape together a hundred or so and have something to defend besides frost bite.
I will quote the Advertiser’s intrepid reporter for a description of the commencement of that scraping.. “ ….with the field close in Lawson decided to loft the ball high into the outfield (it was impossible to keep the ball on the ground on such a soft pitch and DV Parker was reaching speeds akin to Fare and O’Keefe’s arm balls added together) “This paid off … blah, blah, blah two sixes off one Trim over blah, blah “ . The Advertiser again “ Lawson scoring off almost every ball … 50 in 41 minutes “Gradwell out for 8…. McLellan running incessantly ( really ????? how fast ???? hamstrings?? )…101 in 71 minutes. M Mc 17 red ink , 80 odd for 7th wicket in 27 minutes. 6-179. Plenty of out and out slogging from me including a couple onto the aforementioned railway track.
Should be enough, and now time for a bowl before I got cold.
It was one of those days as I took 5-20, took two catches , according to the Agoniser we dropped 4 catches, can’t remember that bit but I do recall Graddies superb tail absorption with 3-5 from 7 overs, Fare got a couple of gifts. What had seemed like a dire day halfway through our innings turned out fairly bright (not the weather, the showers were lukewarm and just slightly cooler than the beer).
The collection box went around and a few travelling Heywood fans threw in their hard earned coinage (total £3.48 [I wrote it down]) in recognition of the victory while the home fans scuttled off to graffiti their pro’s car. Fortunately the West Ham centre forward had stayed the course and made his own handsome contribution to collection – a full ten quid – absolutely unheard of north of the Watford Gap.
Having never made a hundred before, let alone getting 5 for in the same match I decided to celebrate uncharacteristically …… by having a pint, and flush with cash from the Premier League I had a couple of more besides shouting for my worthy team mates. Its didn’t take much for me to be unable to drive and fortunately the future wife was on hand to do the duties in my well appointed Professional’s conveyance of a 1968 Ford Cortina which required pushing to start and two pints of oil for every 100 miles. What a terrific innovation from the Club Chairman to provide the pro a vehicle that would serve as a fitness regime as well as a part time conveyance.
It must be noted that on the same day the Second’s were lead to a breathtaking victory against Ashton when skipper Bob O’Keefe convinced the umpires that the last over should only be of 4 balls after the penultimate over was miscounted and two extra balls were bowled. The Great Barrier’s 22 not out coming in at number 8 got them across the line off the last ball.
All in all a weekend to remember!
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