Jun 052020

Professional in 1979, Geoff Lawson would go on to become one of the great Australian quick bowlers over the following years. Still involved in cricket through coaching, administration and commentary, Geoff has sent over some Crimble Memories and there is so much good stuff we have broken it down into a series of articles.

We start with Geoff’s recollections of a somewhat chilly start to his Heywood career:

Lawson 1

There’s quite a few things to remember about my first game – it was actually a practice match at Crimble against Colne from the Lancashire League (years later I was to read of the great career of Leary Constantine at Colne , it would have been wonderful to have played against such an icon of the game at a time when Rohan Khanai was playing for Crompton) – no foliage  on the surrounding trees, the mill towers stained and forbidding on the horizon, dark gray,  dismal clouds that a Ralph Farmer high ball would touch (or any slog from Fare’s bowling ) and I quickly realised that I hadn’t packed enough jumpers (but the thermal underwear would get plenty of use) especially after being on Bondi Beach 48 hours earlier.

A light northerly wind was aiding the snow flurries to sweep gently across the ground matching the countenance of the club chairman who famously “….. stretched the Heywood finances to bring young Lawson on board“ (must have been a different ’young Lawson‘) and was keeping an eagle/vultureous eye on proceedings from the sponsor’s room – admittedly Horrox Cross and Wilkinson were the match day sponsors.

“No way are we playing today I thought, it’s even too cold and wet to play football (rugby league)“. Wrong. Jimmy Porter appeared with a couple of brooms and the pitch, sodden, soaked but semi frozen was swept clear of remnant snow …. start on time apparently. Colin Gradwell displayed his experience of long years in the Leagues by warming up next to the heater, I’m sure I saw Fare have a sly brandy, I understood the necessities of faaarking cold climate cricket or thought I did , maybe just a little bit, perhaps but as the season progressed I came to learn that this was Fare’s usual warm up. Graddy did have a knock up before matches that commenced with the centigrade in double figures.

We bowled first and I informed Fare that I would only be bowling one spell as it would be too cold for a second one – I subsequently received some advice featuring a mention of “…… effingy soft Aussies“ – so I bowled 11 overs and took 5-14 (no, I didn’t remember the figures I looked them up) anyhow Colne didn’t make many – Gradwell and AFQ Lamb mopping up. Terrific, time to retire next to the heater while we knocked off the runs (too cold to take a shower, amazed that we had one in any case), alas we got to 5-27 before I had to thaw out and try to hang on to the bat, which I did poorly. The pitch had thawed out nicely by early evening and the temperature topped out at 8 degrees. Pete Mills almost got us home eventually and even though it was a practice game the celebration (of surviving the hypothermia) was genuine and the Coke warm (leading to my request for an ice machine even though I could easily have set the drinks outside for 5 mins to really get them chilled).

Just to prove that I am not exaggerating the story I have attached a newspaper clipping (above) from later in the week – I thought I would never get warm again. The very clever Nolan Hall used his wisdom to give this match a miss, while Mike MacLellan made clothing sales from the boot of his car, mostly jumpers of carrying colours. Has he been selling ear muffs he would have made at least one sale. A very successful debut I must say – survived without frostbite, got a few wickets and a couple (two) of runs, saw Jimmy Porter play soccer at mid off, got a snapshot of Fare’s captaincy style (very Alex Ferguson) and didn’t break it tear any body part.

The start of that 1979 season was very wet and cold and I must say that I struggled to get going when trying to bowl with so many layers of clothing on….. but we got there eventually. Summer fully blossomed for a couple of days in early August.

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 June 5, 2020  Add comments

  2 Responses to “Crimble Memories – Geoff Lawson”

  1. Ah yes the weather, as a 16/17 year old I recall a rather cold evening in the nets, Geoff was sat in his car behind the nets dishing out batting advice, I have no idea whether it was good or bad, my hearing isn’t too good to start with and I don’t think anyone could have heard him over the racket of the heater going full blast in his car, so I ignored him.

    Not a good idea, next time I faced him in the nets the first ball whistled about half an inch past my nose, not that it really mattered, no advice would have improved my batting skills anymore than the forward defensive stroke that Phil Wright ingrained in me.

    Looking forward to seeing more

  2. This is brilliant. My first memory of Crimble (and I think the first or second game of cricket I watched live) was going down with our Dad one Sunday to watch what he described at Heywood’s new fast bowling pro. I have vague memories of watching him from sideways on from over near the old toilets and not being able to see the ball- until the stumps were splattered. Looking forward to more in the series!

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