Steve Kirby admitted he was proud to be associated with Heywood CC after officially opening the club’s new nets on Friday night.
Former Heywood junior and first-teamer Kirby, 34, raced from Somerset’s clash with Lancashire at Aigburth on Friday night to attend the ceremony which dedicated the nets to two of the club’s greatest servants of junior cricket.
Kirby was one of the many young cricketers who received hours of encouragement, support, coaching and advice from Keith and Flo Cromarty, both of whom are now sadly no longer with us.
Keith was renowned for his patient and encouraging coaching style, while Flo was the club’s ultimate statistician and a fabulous scorer at all levels throughout the club.
Kirby, whose dad Paul is still a regular at the club and who hopes he may one day play back at Crimble, was touched by the club’s idea to dedicate the £50,000, Sport England-funded nets to Keith and Flo.
He said: “The club’s really going places, just looking around the ground is enough to tell you that. It’s amazing and a real credit to the people we have got here.
“The fact that this has been dedicated to Keith and Flo as well is really nice. It’s a fantastic touch and looking at it now they would have been so proud of what has happened.
“Both of them meant a hell of a lot to me, but Keith in particular was a fantastic coach, although he never really liked to be known as a coach really.
“But he has got a lot to answer for because he did actually say he could bat a bit, which is clearly wrong. He is sorely missed and someone who was a big influence on my cricket career full stop.”
Kirby was an important member of the club’s for many years before leaving to start a hugely successful county career.
He rose to prominence in 2001 when, then shaven-headed, he helped Yorkshire to the County Championship. He subsequently moved to Gloucestershire and now Somerset. He has now taken 535 first-class wickets, as well as nearly 200 in limited over and T20 cricket.
He returned to Heywood in 2004 as deputy professional for the Wood Cup semi-final clash with Unsworth at Crimble, taking an incredible 7-18 to lead his side to an against-the-odds victory. It was a performance no one who was there will ever forget.
And it was evidence that although he has plied his trade around the country – and indeed the world – Kirby know where his roots lie.
He continued: “I am still hugely proud to be a member of Heywood Cricket Club. You never forget your roots and anyone who does is stupid.
“I have been very lucky to play for a few cricket clubs and there is a club in Leicestershire called Kidworth who really looked after me but you never forget your first club
“I lways remember coming down here, three or four years old, coming down that hill from the Mutual Mills. I always remember my first game, playing tip and run really.
“I am so proud that I am associated with the club and the people here.”
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