Jan 232012
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John Kaye played for Heywood from 1982 to 1996 and was a member of the most successful youth sides in the club’s history.

Here, he tells of why – despite forging a new career down south – Heywood CC is his first and biggest love.

Reading the ramblings of the likes of the likes of Mark Wright and Bruce Hara recently has left me with a warm feeling and also suitably inspired to take up the recent offer from Bobby to share some Crimble memories. I actually left in 1996 and I’m sure any imprint I made on the consciousness of Heywood’s members diminishes over time. Therefore, an introduction is in order.

Whilst many of you will know me as Chris Kaye’s brother, occasional but strangely passionate spectator or someone who looks like a balder, fatter and older version of one of the players in the team photos in the clubhouse, I do actually have a 15 year junior and senior Heywood career to draw on and played alongside some Heywood legends such as Mark Wright, Dave Fare (Shag) and Alan Starmer and I was lucky to have these guys teach me how to play cricket.

As far as honours go, I left with one Wood Cup winner’s medal from 1993 (paltry by the standards of Dogsy, Bobby and CK), two U18 Whittaker and two Taylor Cups and two U15 trophies. So not a bad haul but more importantly, I took a lifetime’s worth of memories that continue to make me smile and get trotted out very regularly to anyone who’ll listen.

If you stick with me through this (inevitably too long) article, I will hopefully set a few things straight, like who turned it most between Shag and CK, who was the best of the Ball twins and which was the nicest, Crompton or Ashton (I will resist from saying that the winners in all of these comparisons is akin to winning a best dressed man in Albania competition).

Chris Kaye bowls to John Kaye keeping circa 1993

I pretty much grew up at Crimble from the age of 10 and so I’m bound to say this…. but Heywood is a special club. I’ve played 16 years at Worthing in the Sussex County League and it’s a great club with a lot of history. I’ve served on the committee all of that time and spent 5 years as captain. I’ve tasted a league win, promotion, premier league cricket and formed a huge bond with that club and many of the people, some are my closest friends. However, Heywood is and always will be my club.

I joined with Chris in 1982 at the beginning of what was ultimately a golden period for the junior section of the club. Other contemporaries included Ste Cromarty, Marcus Caveney, Dave and Steve Edwards, John Heywood, Chris Flanagan, Brian McNally, Allister Bold, Craig Irvine and Scott McHugh – plus many more. This group became good friends and the best junior team in the CLL by the time they were 18.

In my opinion, the credit for this success has to go down to the late Keith Cromarty. It is people like Keith who make a difference to a club and as well as an excellent coach he was one the nicest men I’ve ever met. Certainly he is the first person who comes to mind when I think of influences on me as a cricketer.

In 1987 at the age of 16 I made my debut for the first team in the company of our pro Curtly Ambrose and Joel Garner (playing for Oldham). Luckily, it rained a lot so I was spared having to face the Big Bird. Due to the prowess of long serving keeper Pete Devine and time out studying, it was 1990 before I played regularly for the 1st team. The pro was John Abrahams and the captain was Mark Wright. Star all rounder was one D A Fare and I say that with a straight face. Hard to believe as it may be to some, but Shag was still somewhere near the peak (or knoll) of his powers and in my first season, he took over 50 wickets and completed the rare double of 50 and 5 wickets in a match, without threatening to turn one off straight.

Apart from wicket-keeping, my other primary role for the team (I was batting somewhere between 8 and 10 each week) was to remind Wrighty of the umpires’ names as we knocked up. It was a valid reason to hold my place and I can honestly say that even when I see him now, Mark will ask me the name of an umpire we once had in a certain game. When push comes to shove in selection on a Tuesday, it’s good to have this kind of thing up your sleeve – like having an estate car or like Vinny Ball, the ability to wind up the opposition to the point of exasperation. It papers over a single digit batting average for a few weeks or in Bally’s case a couple of decades.

1990 was a good year but we had to wait until 1993 for our first taste of the big time. We had Andy Flower as pro for the second year and Mark had stepped down to be replaced by a youthful new captain – not really, it was Shag. It is fair to say that even with Andy’s skills of motivation, we had under-achieved for a few years but found a spark on a wet Sunday and Tuesday night at picturesque Unsworth (old ground at Parr Lane) in the 1st round of  the Wood Cup.

Vinny rescued us from 103 for 8 by smashing 66 and our 148 got us through to the 2nd round when we returned to bowl Unsworth out on the Tuesday. From there we went from strength to strength in the cup, beating Walsden and taking out Littleborough at Hare Hill in a memorable semi-final. We turned up on a coach in our club ties and they turned up with crates of beer to celebrate.

They were top of the league and we were 4 from bottom so to be fair, their arrogance was probably well placed. However, from 110 for 0 we blitzed them (S Law ct J Kaye b C Kaye!). Inevitably, Wrighty was there at the finish with Andy and as well as outplaying Littleborough, it was the first time I realised what support Heywood could muster and it made a huge difference. It was shiver down the spine stuff and one of the things I miss in the more sedate Sussex League. Our support is an old Geordie chap called Lawrie.

One day, someone should write a piece about the final on its own but after a 1000 words already, I’ll skim over it. Playing in front of thousands on your home ground against local rivals is something even many county pros would aspire to and this was something special. Middleton ran into a team that actually played like a team with some under-achievers finally achieving. Wrighty was (again) there at the finish, Shag got man of the series (?), Crossy senior hit the winning bye and I bit my nails down to the quick watching the final few overs with Jez Epis.

I can’t imagine anyone on the ground has had a better day playing or watching cricket, including Andy Flower, who had played many tests by then and even captained his country. He agreed wholeheartedly when Mark told us to soak it up because “it doesn’t get any better than this”. Never has success been celebrated so long and we had at least 3 official Wood Cup winning parties.

In all of this, Vinny Ball went from a rating of 4 out of 10 by Paul Plunkett of the Rochdale Observer in the pre-match build up to Manchester Evening News Sportsman on the Week. (I think the winner the week before was Eric Cantona). Instead of being known for quotes like “you’d frighten a scrapyard’s dog” and “where did you get your bat from, Morrison’s?”; he was man of the match on the Wood Cup Final and I doubt he bought a beer for the rest of 1993. That was the high cricketing watermark for me and the best thing is I get to reminisce with many of the team when I come back to Crimble a couple of times a year or when we’re on tour in Worcester.

I could go on but I think I’ve pushed the envelope a bit far already (sorry Scoop), so I’ll finish by saying that Heywood really is the best club, with the best ground and the best support, quite possibly in league cricket. All of those currently playing probably don’t always appreciate just how lucky you are.

John Kaye’s Heywood CC career stats

John Kaye’s best season (runs) – 1993

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  18 Responses to “John Kaye: Memories Of 1993 As Vivid Today As Ever”

  1. Excellent read John. I remember the Stuart Law dismissal in the semis – stood at the Littleborough scorebox. If I remember you both gave him a bit of a send off! Good memories of John and I would say he would have scored bundles of runs if he had stayed. Some great memories of youth finals and his words on Keith Cromarty are spot on. Keith encouraged and coached with real passion and enthusiasm and his only failing was that he was too nice to actually tell you when you did something wrong. Sutherland Road nets on a Sunday morning were great too, although when Bally kept smashing it down the nets they were a dangerous place to be. Best wicket-keeper batsman I have played with and the bane of anyone in after-match fines – if you so much as stumbled on one chirp or said anything remotely wrong John got you fined for it. Cheers lad

  2. What a great read that was. For the record, John Kaye was a joy to play alongside. He remembered everything about previous encounters and had a photographic memory for every ball bowled in which he was involved. I could indeed always turn to John and ask him such things like ” Whats that Umpire called?” “How did we get the pro out last time?” and ” Is this the muppet that got runs against us last year ? ” I promise you John will remember anything. I’m sure he remembers the year, date, time ,weather conditions, and details of the conversation with that clown that stopped our coach going down the hill to the Cat in’the well pub on one of our race trips in the 90′s.
    A very tidy wicketkeeper and an underrated batsman. Had the patience of a wicketkeeping Saint waiting as long as he did ( about 10 years ) for one of Shag’s balls to turn.
    I for one will always buy this man a pint – If only I could remember what he drinks.

  3. Thanks guys, good to know this stuff interests a few people! I do remember Shag actually turning one at Milnrow. It sticks in the mind because Simon Bamford was dumbstruck and could only manage to hit it for 4 rather than 6. Remember that day Shag? I seem to recall we might have exchanged words. Imran Adrees also took a liking but that’s another story.

    Scoop, the Stuart Law thing started earlier in the season. He ran at Chris, missed (play for the turn, fool) and I missed the easiest stumping in the memory of man. He had a little word to me as he hit Chris virtually to Hollingworth Lake next ball. The look from Chris was worse! So when I snagged the bottom edge stood up in the semi, I had to have a little pop- I considered it my duty. It was nothing offensive but I was toe to toe with him and he started squealing- so one or two others reminded him where the changing room was.

    He remembered and later that year, he gave me bucketloads after every ball when I was batting. Andy got him caught for single figures in their innings after an awful shot so I followed him for about 30 yards telling him how bad it was with a few swear words mixed in when I couldn’t think of anythng clever. A least a few of their guys thought it was funny, even if he didn’t and apparently he couldn’t stand the sight of me. You could say I had to try and level the playing field a little because he was brilliant, even though he wasn’t a nice man on the field.

  4. Thanks John for taking the time to write a tremendous article.

    On a side note, was image 5 of 10 from the photo gallery taken from a celebrity game? With Rodney Trotter at wicket-keeper and golfer John Daley appearing to have been beaten at slip.


  5. Ollie, good to hear from you mate. I went to the Bury v Rochdale game with Rob and he filled me in on your adventures. Rick Savage is the John Daley lookalike…..he was as big a character. A really funny man.

  6. John – known as ‘Knotty’ after the great wicketkeeper Alan Knott – will appreciate this little meander down memory lane as he was behind the stumps in this particular game.
    Lets call it ‘ DUEL IN THE SUN’
    Heywood 1st X1 vs Ashtion 1st X1 – sometime in the 90’s. I’m not great at remembering details, but John will fill in any gaps – I’ll just relate what I can remember.
    Ashton are batting and are in some trouble. Mr David Arthur Fare is trundling in from one end and after the fall of another wicket, a certain Mr Imran Adrees strode to the wicket for Ashton. When I say “strode” I mean waddled – Adrees was a portly asian fellow, no more than 5ft 6 tall and about the same around the girth. He had a bit of a reputation as a robust striker of the ball – a dangerous opponent who fell into the category of ‘slogger’.
    As Adrees took guard in front of Knotty, it became clear that he wasn’t going to have a look at Fares’ bowling before having a go. ( is there EVER any need ? ). In a flurry of massive swipes, Mr Adrees swept the ball from outside off over long on and mid wicket for what seemed like a dozen or so consecutive balls. Content to stay at the end to which Dave was bowling, it was a very simple battle plan from our Imran.
    After yet another ball was slogged over the boundary edge, Adrees turned to Knotty and with a rock of the head, and pearly whites showing from one chubby cheek to the other, he excitedly exclaimed to our wicketkeeper that Shag “is my favourite , favourite bowler”. Knotty was very amused by this. I can see hordes of CLL batsmen nodding in understandable agreement.
    Now David Arthur had to come up with a cunning plan. He decided that he would change the angle of attack and start to fire the ball in full into Imran Adrees’ legs. First ball thudded against the pads as Mr Adrees took another swipe but could not get the bat round his considerable girth in time to make contact. We were all relieved to see a dot ball. Same happened next ball, and then the next.
    It was at this point that Mr Adrees thought things were not very fair. He wasn’t interested in taking any quick leg byes – he wanted boundaries. Stood with arms outstretched in the middle of the wicket he appealed to the umpire that these were not legitimate balls and that he couldn’t possibly hit them. As the game stopped for the umpire to presumably give this ridiculous appeal some deliberation, Mr Fare – not shy in coming forward – offered his opinion in his usual curmudgeonly sarcastic fashion. “ Not Fair? Not Fair? I suppose I should just carry on bowling you half volleys outside off so you can whack it over there shall I ?
    John Kaye by this stage was doubled up in laughter, his shoulders going up and down in uncontrollable mirth as this great duel in the sun reached its conclusion.
    I know Imran Adrees was out very soon after this and I can’t even remember if we won. Somehow, after all these years, it doesn’t seem to matter.
    I doff my cap to you Mr Adrees – wherever you are now

  7. Another one for you, John – I know you like these stories and this involves your brother.
    Lets call this one “SHOULD HAVE JUST TOOK THE SINGLE”

    Batting with Chris Kaye at Middleton, a run chase was on for the 1st X1.
    I played the ball out square towards the pavilion boundary and both me and Chris set off. A comfortable two runs for two fit athletes, but a bit of a push for two portly unfit cricketers.

    As I turned for the second, I knew that if the ball was thrown to my end it was going to be tight. Head down, I summoned my leaden legs to go as fast as possible. At my pace this is like running in 4 foot of water – lots of effort, very little propulsion.

    The ball was duly thrown in toward the end to which I was running. As I started to bend lower, knowing that I would have to stretch everything I had to make my ground, I began to think that I just might make it. As the wicket keeper took the bails off, I was stretching every muscle as I ran through the crease and beyond the wicket keeper.

    Unaware whether I had made my ground or not, I became instantly worried that I may not be able to stop without falling over. As such a heavy and tall man, I had some serious momentum even if my speed was pedestrian. I was at that critical point leaning forward where another centimetre lean would make my body give in to the forces of gravity and fall heavily head first into the Towncroft turf. Realising this would hurt, and thinking that would not befit a cricketer of my standing, my body somehow told me that if I took my arm carrying the bat high over the top of my head in a huge semi circle, I could bring the toe of the bat into contact with the ground in front of me and break the impending fall. This cunning plan worked as I stabbed the bat into the ground thus preventing my body getting any lower. What it had not done however, was stop the forward momentum – I had to take another two or three tumbling steps forward – and then the same situation arose – I was falling into the turf again with bent over forward momentum. My bat however did a repeat full circle and came over the top again to break my fall. This happened at least 3 times.

    The joy in not falling over was shortlived however, as when I eventually came to a stop I arched my back up and stood tall for the first time in 30 seconds and realised I was stood 10 yards from the scorebox. I looked up in dismay and surprise at the scorers who were looking back with mouths agape. I slowly looked back over my shoulder to see the aftermath of Middleton players congratulating themselves on the run out and the umpire starting to reassemble the stumps. I was 40 yards from the wicket, on the wrong side of the ground, having been given out, and at least 100 yards from the pavilion changing rooms. Chris Kaye was p****ing himself at the far end, secure in the knowledge that his wicket was safe. Next man in was already practically at the wicket.
    I stood there for a moment and deliberated my options.
    I thought a good option was to keep walking off the ground in the way I was facing, up the entrance path out the ground, out onto Manchester Road, jump on the 163 bus and tell the driver to put his foot down for Heywood, and not to ask any smart questions unless he wanted a bat wrapped around his head.
    My other option was of course to take the humiliation of the long, long walk back – past third man, past the umpire, past the rest of the Middleton players, past the wicket, past the chuckling Chris and the new batman – eventually to the other side of the ground – all the while being berated and ridiculed by the partisan Middleton crowd for holding things up. Not only was I given out, but I had made a right tit of myself in trying to stay upright.

    It was not a walk I enjoyed – but I can laugh about it now – just like everybody else did at the time.

  8. Mark.
    The incident with Mr Adrees needs a little clarification, i think the fixture was in fact Radcliffe away, i was bowling at the pavillion end and the shamatur was hitting me over the wall behind me. As you can imagine i was was none to pleased with this and as you say rumbled him by darting them in at his pads, he then complained to the umpire that ‘this was not cricket’. My reply was as follows:- not cricket?..not cricket? its f…… cricket when its going over the f…… wall, steam coming out of my ears!

    Another Stuart Law story was when he made a quick 70 odd at Littleborough he then latched on to one of my non spinning long hops and smashed it high to cow corner where Mark stood. ‘Like shelling pea’s’ said I as the ball returned from outer space and me thinking if he drops this Law will let me have it, fortunatly Mark hung on and it was me this time suggesting in which direction the changing rooms were.

    Last story. First match of the season 1987 v Rochdale at Crimble on a lovely spring day. Won the toss and inserted them, The Heywood professional was a 6′ 8″ bean pole from Antigua who went on to have a decent career. Nobody including me had seen him before this first game, what field do you want Curtly said I ‘you de captain man you set de field’ said him. After 12 overs Rochdale 87 for 0, you could hear the critics bench in full swing ‘who signed this joker’, Crossy and John Rhodes was the reply, membership cards were being ripped up all round the ground.

    Have break i said to the non concerned professional ‘no problem man’.

    112 for 0 and Curtly just had to come back on, from the lake end this time. The rest as they say is history 8 for 11 in the next 5 overs Rochdale 127 all out. Happy days.

  9. Remember Curtly’s debut. Faz Hussain, I think it was, made him look like a medium pacer. Played him brilliantly. Then a masterly bit of captaincy Shag …

  10. Knotty. What a great piece. You are the only one with any recall about the winning run in the WCF 1993. Everyone here remembers it as a leg bye. I wasn’t even good enough to get a pad on it ! Look forward to seeing you again Crossy (Snr)

  11. I was feeling confident under that catch from Stuart Law until I heard you say ” ‘like shelling peas” loud enough for me to hear it.
    Thankfully I never followed it up with ” I’ll never drop another catch for Heywood ”
    Now who said that ?

  12. Shag, your recollection of events is slightly better than Mark’s but then that shouldn’t surprise anyone. The Adrees incident was Radcliffe away……..and we lost. However, it was worth giving up 5 points to be part of cricketing folklore.. After 3 maximums in 4 balls, Adrees couldn’t contain himself and honestly turned to me and said “he’s my favourite bowler!”…delivered in perfect Punka Wallah English. I could barely wait until the end of the over before sharing this news with Shag and the rest of the team. On dark days, I just force myself to remember the exchange that ensued and can’t help but laugh. It was very rare that anyone got the better of Fare in those kind of exchanges.
    Crossy Snr, I actually have the original, Flo Cromarty masterpiece scorecards from the whole of the 1993 cup run and so my memories are supported by facts in most cases. However, you will be pleased to know that you are offically recorded as 1*. I had a reasonably good view of that delivery though and even discussed it with Tommy Astley years later. He reckons Sleep threw in a drifter out of nowhere and Tommy wasn’t expecting it. He swears it was byes but in the crowd invasion, the umpires signals weren’t noticed or they didn’t bother.

    Mark, your other story of the Middleton run out still leaves me in stitches. Even with your embarrassment, you sensed you’d lost the dressing room before you’d made it half way back and was laughing yourself. It was a valiant effort but gravity will usually prevail and I have to remind you that you didn’t stay completely perpendicular. We all knew at the final moment, somewhere near the northern sight screen as you slid the last 5 yards on your pads, that it was the perfect ending and your humiliation was complete. The bat had ceased windmilling and was splayed out in front of you as you came to rest on all fours. I have seen many funny things on the cricket field but this is a nailed on contender for top 3.

  13. Thanks John for reminding me that I didn’t quite make it keeping on 2 feet. I must have been so embarrassed that the final crash onto all fours had been erased from my memory bank. If there was a video that existed ,it was a sequence of events that should be shown to all young cricketers – they should know that however embarrassed they think they are in the way they have been dismissed, there’s always someone who’s made a bigger tit of himself.

    p.s I haven’t taken a dodgy two since and its only now that I can talk about it.

  14. Mark thank you for allowing me to be part of my brothers top 3 comedy moments on a cricket field. Just to add a little to the story , the first run was quite straight forward with no risk. I can’t remember who called for the second but I need to make clear that i was running uphill so shear pace was needed to encourage the fielder to throw to the other end. The rest they say is history and has been recollected accurately on previous posts. Just to clarify not once have I chuckled regarding this incident , i was openly pissing myself and still am writing this. Once again a big thank you to you

  15. john , mark

    I think you both played in a game at werneth away when they had corry van zyl as pro and justin kick as overseas. a very good left hand right hand combination. they also took a liking to shags bowling. if i remember correctly shag was bowling from the bottom end , but being left hand right hand they both had access to the school yard , i was bowling from the pavilion end. shag ran to bowl to van zyl (wack) school yard 6 , next ball shag bowled it a bit wider (wack) 6 , next ball shag bowled it even wider and van zyl left it to which the umpire gave a wide. dave was fuming turned to the umpire and said “where the f********* do you want me to bowl it” i was pissing myself again ,until the end of his over and he said to me “do you want to bowl from this end” that wiped the smile from my face.
    Practical jokes in the changing rooms were rife in those days and dave was a regular target . Turning davids watch 10 – 20 mins fast so it looked as though we would never get our overs in was one. One game someone came up with the idea of cutting the toes off his socks off (no names) and when he pulled them up they ended up near his knee caps, he went into the bar with no socks on linda was not happy, and had a go at us quite rightly. i dont think the phonecall made by dion taljaard later that evening to davids home asking if Mr socks was in went down to well.
    There are a few others which are titled Capt leaves the field unexpected at unsworth and also That nice man Mark Wright. I can enlighten at a later date if others dont beat me to it.

  16. Chris, I was `keeping the day you and Shag bowled Werneth to a mammoth 280 for 1 declared. Kick would fetch anything from outside off to get Shag over the school wall. Bally spent so much time in the school yard, I think he started to arose suspiscion. It was a hot, hot day too and his spikes kept sinking into the tarmac.

  17. It really does make me laugh to think back and see the pictures in my mind of Mr VD Ball creeping all over the schoolyard for the best part of an hour looking for cricket balls.
    Not the most streamlined of movers when he ran, Vinnys gangly legs were always in front of his concave chest and trying not to sink his spikes in the hot tar by tip toeing around made him look like like some sort of creep. I’m sure he was muttering something like ” I might as well bl****g stay over here “

  18. Whilst we are on VD Ball.

    Anyone know the opposition batsman / intended recipient of Vinny’s caustic comment when he was behind the sticks and saw a bat with several brightly coloured stickers……
    “That looks a good bat – where did you buy that – at Morrisons ? ”

    And one of my favourites from David Arthur – only because the irony was totally lost on the batsman……………
    Heywwod 2 X1 vs Oldham.
    Oldham batsman is batting WITH a watch on. ( ? ) Dave asked him the time between balls from slip. Without hesitation and with no sense that he was taking the p***, batsman took a look at his wrist and replied “quarter to three” and then prepared to face the next ball

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