From overseas players to one of our longest serving amateurs today.
A Heywood man through and through, Mark Wright is a former first team captain, Wood Cup winner and at one time was the club’s leading amateur run scorer with just short of 7,500 first team runs to his name. The former fines master, organiser of excellent race trips, and a very nice man too. He looks back on some memories of playing for the club.
1. What do you remember of your Heywood debut?
Very little – Middleton at home – 1978 – I got in the side by scoring lots of runs in the seconds, and David Fare batted me at 10. I’ve never really forgiven him. Scored 1no. It only got a bit better
2. What was your favourite game for Heywood and why?
I cannot look beyond the Wood Cup Final in 1993. Playing at home, unfancied against a very good Middleton side, we won a tight game in front of the biggest crowd I’ve played in front of. I was there in the middle when the winning run was scored (legend – Dave Cross). These things stay with you.
I also remember my first game as Captain of the first team against Hyde at Crimble. Knowing I had to make my mark in a team of other more prolific batsmen, I scored a half century and it gave me confidence for the season
3.What was your favourite away ground?
I liked Ashton because I seemed to do well there, but I think Middleton was my favourite ground because the track was always good, and you felt it was a ground with tradition.
4. Best professional you played with and against?
I played in John Abrahams’ testimonial game at Heywood which including John, paraded a host of great cricketers – including Clive Lloyd who has to be one of the all time greats. In properly competitive cricket in the CLL, I played with Andy Flower, Steve Wundke, Bob Cooke, Geoff Lawson, and Curtley Ambrose who were all class acts
As for against, facing Andy Roberts, Joel Garner and Ezra Moseley was a (usually short lived) privilege, and watching Carl Hooper and Rohan Kanhai score lots of runs on Crimble were wonderful experiences (although tough in the field on the day).
5. Best amateur you played with and against?
For Heywood – Andy Flower was an amateur when he first came to Heywood, and Bob Cooke and Colin Gradwell played as amateurs too – but if I rule out anybody that was, or became, a regular professional, and those I shared at least a couple of seasons with in the first team ( 1978 -2002 ) – the list is still a long one.
It’s not so much the talent you remember, but the pleasure in sharing time together - Great memories with all these talented names who have good statistics for the club, but I wouldn’t dare put them in any order.( at least not in print )
Derek Page, Alan Starmer, Peter Devine , Peter Abrahams, Jim Porter, Jason Hurst, Bobby Cross, Nolan Hall, Gary Wilkinson, Chris Kaye, John Kaye, Mike Arnold, Colin Wroe, Paul Jazwinski, Rob Slawson and David Fare.
Best one season amateur talents I think I saw first hand were Wayne Seabrook, Jeremy Epis , Steve Dawson, Scott Bannerman and Gary Martin
Against Heywood – Difficult to know how many to put in the “best” category, but we always seemed to have trouble with Chris Dearden @ Littleborough.
6. Best memory on the field
So difficult to narrow it down. Apart from the drama and euphoria of the 1993 Wood Cup final, I think my favourite memories are always going to be those that made me laugh. Usually this was at the expense of other players’ misfortunes – which really was a distraction so my failings could be overlooked.
There was a long period in the first team during the 80′s & 90,s where we had a “wasted” day award and a host of fines for misdemeanours during the game ( or in some cases, previous games as well ). These were all funny meetings, held after the game in the changing room – and you needed a thick skin. Occasions which were always (well, nearly always) taken in good spirit. I used to have a printed list of misdemeanours, and their associated fine value, so we could apportion fines in a orderly fashion.
Some really, really funny things have happened. I’ll mention one that I fondly remember at Royton where we were bowling fast on a sticky wicket, on top and attacking their batsmen with 9 close fielders on the off side. Only Tony Ellis crouched at short leg. The ball was hit past Tony as he cowered out of the way, and after a delay, Tony realised he was the still easily the nearest to the ball, even though it had travelled almost to the leg side boundary behind him. Tony put on his castors so he could run with his short legs and made good ground at first. The sight of Tony at full kilter was funny enough as his running style included no foot off the ground by more than a quarter of an inch. However, he was then struck with a sharp pain in his leg and he dramatically stumbled to a halt, falling like a western cowboy shot from behind, and lay writhing in agony on the floor. Our only explanation was that he had been hit by a sniper hidden on the roof of the clubhouse. The ball stopped short of the boundary and remained there. Thus followed a further impasse as we realised the ball was still “live” but there was no way Tony was going any further. The nearest other Heywood player was the wicket keeper – but it was a sprightly Marcus Caveney who was dispatched from one of the three gully positions to retrieve the ball from 50 yards away. In the meantime the Royton batsmen were having a whale of a time, completing their fourth run and cruising in for a fifth. Tony, a dear friend lost to us not long after, was escorted off the field of play, whilst the rest of the team tried to stop laughing. Not sure if there has been an all run 5 on Royton before or since. It cost Tony £2 in fines
7. Best memory off the field
When I really should have been tucked up in bed nice and early in preparation for facing some 90 mph test playing quickie the next day, I would instead be having a laugh & beers with fellow team members in the infamous Bamford Squash Club till the early hours.
And those celebrations in the clubhouse after the Wood Cup Final win in 1993.
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