Your memories of your debut for Littleborough?
My 1st XI debut was away at Hyde on the opening day of the 1987 season and if I remember rightly, I played football for The Ox & Plough in the morning. I think Scott Kershaw and Brian Clarke also made their debuts for The Boro that day. We had won the league the previous 2 years, but Ezra hadn’t arrived for the fixture and we had an Australian called Mark Hall who I think we borrowed from Unsworth to deputy pro. One thing I do remember is that he had leopard skin undies which were different to say the least. I picked up a couple of wickets but unfortunately we lost with headlines along the lines of Champions crash at lowly Hyde in season opener
Your favourite game and why?
Wood Cup Final 1994 v Rochdale at Hare Hill without a shadow of a doubt was my favourite game. The quarter final at home to Middleton and the semi final at Walsden were other great games en route to the final. Rochdale were a team made up of several ex pros and they were a team who certainly fancied themselves but they came up against a talented team of local lads who had never heard of the word defeat and very rarely tasted it. The win was set up by a fantastic century by Dexter in front of a crowd of 2000 or more. The celebration post match was brilliant and the team pic with the cup singing ‘Back Home’ put the icing on the cake as Littleborough dominated the Wood Cup in the 90s winning it 5 times including hat trick in 96,97 and 98.
Winning the league in my first year as captain away at Ashton in 2002 was a very special game too.
Your favourite away ground and why?
I always liked playing away at a ground that had a decent crowd off it and a bit of niggle and edge on it. In our prime we were a pretty confident but respectful bunch and teams always wanted to put one over on us, especially on their own patch. I enjoyed playing at Royton, Middleton, Walsden and Heywood but my favourite is Milnrow’s Ladybarn. The rivalry both on and off the field between the 2 teams, I enjoyed immensely. It was a proper derby match played on a proper cricket ground in my eyes and of course that’s where the famous song was first aired. ‘There’s tears in their eyes as the Boro march on by…………………….’
The best professional played against?
If I had to name one then it would be Ezra but I played with Ez as much as I played against him. The other 2 that I am going to name I played against on numerous occasions and were excellent professionals.
Asif Mujtaba – I just couldn’t get it passed his bat most of the time, he just had so much time at the crease and was an excellent bowler too.
Dave Callaghan – After dropping him one day at long leg for not many and then watching him get a ton was just the start. An excellent batsman, who never tossed it away and I think it took me several years before I eventually dismissed him for the one and only time.
The best amateurs played against?
Batsman would be Peter Wilcock, although I did dismiss him a few times he was one of those opening batsman where you could be out of the attack before you knew it. Blamed anything on his legs.
Bowler is a difficult one and you would probably get a better insight from a batsman on this plus the fact that we had such a strong batting line up, if someone did roll us then they definitely didn’t do it again and again. I would probably go with Steve Oddy, I’ve always admired the art of outswing and he was an excellent exponent of it. Another bowler I also admired was Dave Norris, an excellent competitor and a trier.
Favourite on and off the field memories?
Where do I start, this is where I start rambling on a bit here but stick with me because my Top 25 are worth reading.
The main enjoyment and memory I have is playing with mates (some which you played football with in the morning before cricket in the afternoon) and bonding with them over a period of time. Knowing that we could always count on each other on the field. We policed ourselves and were respected both on and off the field as a top cricket side. If someone was out of order in our team we would sort it out ourselves and the culprit would be pulled in line.
The banter was as fierce as I have ever encountered and if you couldn’t hack it then you wouldn’t last 5 mins. The camaraderie both on and off the field was a privilege to be part of. We were such a close knit unit, the opposition knew it and they hated it. Some teams were beat even before the first ball was bowled. Being a successful team, all those league titles, all those cup finals and nights on the beer. A normal weekend back then would more often than not be get drunk fri night, get up sat, win at cricket sat, another session sat night, get up sun (sometimes play football in the morning) win at cricket, have a curry but still get hammered sun night. I am very proud to have represented Littleborough CC throughout my whole career, its been an absolute honour.
Batting with my son Ryan at The Pollards when he got his maiden second team 50 was a very proud moment
Playing in the first team alongside Ryan gave me immense pleasure too, although well passed my sell by date by then and finally catching the catch at mid off to give Ryan a 5 wicket haul off the final delivery of his spell in a first team game against Milnrow was the icing on the cake for me.
Before I go on to the Top 25 funniest cricket moments I would like to give a special mention to one person.
This person was my second team captain in 1988, he bowled me for 409 overs that season, he taught me how to bowl, when to attack, when to defend. He praised me when I bowled well, and he criticised me when I bowled poor. We won the league and came runners up in the cup. After that season I never really looked back and was very lucky to have had a pretty decent career. That person is Alan Whiteley, I would just like to say a massive thank you for all the effort and time you put in with me
Here it is the 25 funniest moments that I can remember in no particular order:
- Gary Graham (Gary Garner(real name) came out to bat for Clifton, definitely fancied himself on and off the field, I was having none of that, I was fielding at square leg next to the umpire and I started chirping him at constantly calling him Graham this and Graham that and nice shot Graham until he finally exploded ‘See Miskella, you’re not that funny, you don’t even know my name’ Why what’s your name then I enquire to which he replies it’s Gary to which I come straight back with What? Gary Graham? The whole team collapsed in laughter along with the umpires who had to stop play until they composed themselves.
- Hanging Noddy’s whites out at Bacup which resembled the japanese flag after a piles incident
- Danny Thewliss car a Unsworth which was a little red fiesta or something covered in clothes from footwell to roof after being caught playing away by his partner at the time and she threw him out
- Massey at Walsden. I ran in slipped and bowled a half tracker, top edge to third man, Massey full length dive, dropped it, he ended up in the boundary gutter, ball went for 6 and a dog came along and started licking his bum
- Urinating in Noddy’s shampoo bottle without him knowing and then me and the lads watching him shower himself with it
- Plastic dog pooh I placed on the door step to the entrance to the pavillion at Radcliffe. Everyone kept stepping over it whilst we were all sniggering and at one point someone came out with a dustpan and brush.
- Hobbsy caught hiding cream cakes under the table cloth on his knee to eat himself and getting caught by the lads at Dane street
- Leachy bowled leg stump shouldering arms to Manoj Prabhakers inswinger after being told explicitly that he bowls big inswingers
- Deak run out at Hyde. It was a wet day, can’t remember who he was batting with, he went for a run slipped on his back caked in mud, the fielder threw it in for an easy run out, the bowler dropped it, Deak then got back up thinking he was going to make his ground only to slip and fall again, get run out and getting covered in more mud. He trudged off, we tried to hold it together but as he got close by, we all just laughed out loud
- Gar stealing scones at Unsworth and getting caught
- Gar’s fight with Trilly in changing rooms at Enfield. Snot and feathers everywhere
- Zimmy running Gary Hulme out at Unsworth for second week running after being well set. He was so mad, he threw his bat 30 metres away. Unfortunately he threw it towards the scorebox, so had to trudge passed the opposition and Zimmy, pick his bat up, trudge back and make the long walk back in the opposite direction to the clubhouse
- Ezra dismissing Bernie Thorpe first ball of the innings with a low caught and bowled, throwing the ball up in the air to celebrate, nobody knowing where the ball had gone until we heard this ‘Owww’ noise as the ball landed flush on Bernie’s helmet
- The look on deputy professional Rob Bailey’s face when Molly announced what he did to pass time away at home with the record being 9
- The Royton tea lady asking skipper Alan Whiteley ‘Does your Indian eat meat?’ whilst pointing at Martin Hobbs
- Me and the cooker (wasn’t funny for me at the time)
- Dressing up as the west indies cricket team for the test match at old trafford with naggers as coach
- Gar running to the notice board and scrubbing his name off the team sheet when he was dropped
- Penwortham away
- Hyde away rained off pub crawl in the Boro ended up in the Royal Exchange with Micky pearce hats on singing karaoke (which was new at the time) Leachy then going home and trying to explain to his wife that we actually played
- Headline in the Rochdale Observer ‘Smith Butler Fingers’ after Andy dropped an easy catch at Rochdale
- Mike Arnold wearing ear plugs against the Boro so he couldn’t hear all the sledging and wind ups whilst batting
- Dexter being caught by a 60 year old bloke playing for Ainsdale in the longest cricket jumper ever seen
- Gar’s pants splitting on way back from St Helens away and we had to staple them together
- Noddy sulking in the bushes at Brinscall away because he wanted a bat and Deak bowled first because half the team were going to united after the game to watch them win the league in 93. We bowled them out cheaply and Noddy never got a bat