Your memories of your debut for Littleborough?

I had been doing well for the U18s and got fast tracked into the first team, so I made my debut in a pre-season friendly at Church in 1976 aged 16. My boyhood heroes had been Jack Hunter and Duncan Carter and to suddenly be in the same dressing room as them was mind blowing for me . It was the same game Joel Garner made his Littleborough debut and nobody knew what to expect. I’ve never seen so many open mouths after his first ball. Never seen pace and bounce like it. Everybody in the slip corden just smiled, shook their heads and couldn’t stop giggling .

Your favourite game and why?

My favourite game was the Wood Cup final of 1976 at Middleton against Radcliffe. I played first team cricket at Littleborough when I was very young, so my memories are through wide eyed wonderment rather than from a hard bitten experienced league players perspective.

I couldn’t believe I was playing in front of so many people, it seemed like there were thousands, loads of young kids kept coming up to me wanting my autograph (ha. Unbelievable) and thanks to the brilliant Duncan Carter we won which was fantastic. The win that day made so many Littleborough people happy. CLL cricket mid 70s was a massive deal and the whole village were there.

On a personal note, even though it was the day I remember the most I was disappointed at batting number 10 having batted 7 all season and also bitterly upset that Chris Dearden had been dropped for the final after playing all season and doing well in the semi final.

Your favourite away ground and why?

Walsden.

That balcony was brilliant loved being up there looking down on the match. My dad had a newsagents in Todmorden when I was very young and he used to take me to watch Walsden a lot. I hero worshipped Sammy Connor and Albert  Ross at the time.

When I played U18s cricket Walsden away was always the highlight. Great rivalry , a real grudge match and great  to beat the Connors, Baileys and Barkers on their own patch . Only played there once in the first team but what an atmosphere, remembered for my “ hero”, Sammy Connor sledging  me mercilessly breaking a young boys heart. Cant repeat what he called me !!

The best professional played against?

They were all good when you were 16. Parker, Cec Wright, Colin Lever, Quereshi, Paul Rocca, Miller, Helmstalk, Richardson and Burton.

Does facing Duncan Carter and Joel Garner in the nets every Tuesday and Thursday night count ?

The best amateurs played against?

I remember Kevin Power and Stuart Wales as a great opening partnership in 1976 . I played the day they defied the big bird and scored 196-0 against us .  Plaques were made, photographs were taken and framed , everything except a brass band played ……then they lost because Bob Davies batted brilliantly . I dropped both of them in the deep during that partnership so all the fuss was my fault . I thought Garner was going to kill me when I dropped the second one at deep square. Mild mannered ? Not that day he wasn’t !

I also thought Ken McKentyre was a top player, he also left me  in no doubt as to what he thought of me as a cricketer from silly mid off one match.

I think I must have had “Please sledge me” written on the back of my shirt in those days.

Favourite on the field memories?

Four memories stand out:

Les Whittle at Crompton in the Wood cup Semi final coming in to bat with a bright yellow Wimpey’s building site hard hat on to face Garner and Carter. 1976 was pre helmets !! This act got Les a fine and a long ban and I just remember him being laughed to and back from the wicket by hundreds of people. Les Whittle the man who invented the batting helmet !!

I was stood at deep fine leg at Royton when Joel Garner hit Bob Kelsall in the mouth with one that flew off a length. Two of his teeth literally landed at my feet. Ray Hill threw up at Short leg and Noddy (lightweight) fainted. There was blood everywhere. It was a dangerous game in 1976 without helmets, you had to be a proper bloke to play in those days ha.

Hate and aggression between Joel Garner and Trevor Townsend (SA) when we played Middleton at Hare Hill. Townsend made the big big mistake of greeting the big bird on his arrival at the crease with the word “Caffa”. What followed was the fastest, meanest, frightening, aggressive spell of fast bowling I’ve ever seen . Square ups at the end of each over and when Roger Lord caught him off a top edge at cover very nearly a fist fight when he walked off.  MAGIC!!  Being so close to the action !

Being run out four times during the season by Garner. As a young pup I was under orders to “ obey the pro”. “If Joel says jump in the canal, you jump in the canal”. His running was suicidal, ok for him, it only took him 4 strides to complete the run. After the fourth time it happened my dad told  me “ next time send the lanky beggar back”. So, next time I did and ran him out. On my return to the pavilion I was given the biggest “telling-off” (although not the original word used) of my life from Jack Hunter. Different era the 70s. Know your place young man !!

How about off the field?

I was 16. Never had a proper girlfriend in my life. I had to run the gauntlet of Joel Garner and Roger Lord every game saying “come to Manchester with us Greggy (my 1976 nickname after Tony Greig) and we will help you “break dee ice”.  Birds words. Scary !!

Duncan Carter putting his arm around me and helping me in that team as a youngster. A wonderful fast bowler and an even more wonderful human being. I adored Duncan.

I was so young. I didn’t attend the 1976 Wood cup celebrations, I joined my family on holiday in St Annes that evening. I’d never had a drink in my life. What a waste !!

My career at Littleborough at senior level was fleeting. My best memories are playing for and captaining a brilliantU18s team full of my best mates. ( I won’t mention the name “CREAM KIDDIES “ as I find it winds a few people up). The day ten 13 year old boys took on Heywood U18s and gave them a game will always be a cherished memory. Bob Thew our manager was magnificent to us boys at the time and I will forever be grateful  for his generosity.

I left the village to go to college and then to get my first teaching job down south and missed out on so many on field triumphs and off field celebrations later on .

When Littleborough won the Wood Cup in 1982 and the league with Whit in 1983 with all my ex U18s team mates playing major roles, it was a quiet heart breaker for me, but , who knows? Would I have been good enough to catch the team ?

I have been involved in many off field celebrations as a non player in the ensuing years and still to this day being accepted as “One of us” has been a great feeling and I thank you all.

I love Littleborough Cricket Club and all the people I know there with all my heart and always will.

Good luck for the future LCC.

Knighty  xx