Last year I wrote a trilogy of unreliable junior cricket memories while playing for Gateshead Fell Cricket Club (GFCC) in the late 1970’s, early 1980’s. This trinity of yarns were based on fact supplemented by several fictional elements, as is my literary want.
Recently I was encouraged to expand on the parody biographies of my 1980’s treble winning junior team mates; relaying similar accounts but of senior cricket colleagues of that era. Not being in possession of the individual’s current existential circumstances, I was initially reluctant to countenance this mini-project……. Although you could argue the same criteria didn’t stop me penning parody biographies of my ex-junior colleagues.
After mulling this over for a while, though, I relented. The result a few tongue in cheek insights into a small number of players who represented GFCC during my time there. Like the vast majority of my other team mates from that era, the guys below were good lads who I remember with fondness:-
Doug Hudson – First team captain during my youthful custodianship of the first’s scorebook. I always found him an affable bloke, who paid up my £1 scorers wages without the need of me involving a small claims court.
As a kid I always thought Doug’s moustache and grin gave him a look of Gomez Addams from the Addams Family. Thankfully this similarity to Lurch’s boss didn’t affect his performance on the pitch. On the contrary, his epiphany of placing Thing into the slip catching cordon saw a marked increase in held catches.
His introduction of the hairless 3rd slip with the illuminated light bulb in his mouth was also an inspired piece of captaincy; a move which deeply unsettled opposing batsmen.
John Sneddon – Third team wicketkeeper who on occasion had the unenviable job of incorporating his match participation with looking after his young kids. An affable guy, he’s the only wicketkeeper I’ve played with who’s appealed for a catch behind by yelling “Will you two stop climbing on that bloody sightscreen!” at his offspring.
Tony Tait – Second team captain who banned me from asking the Leeds United (LUFC) football score during GFCC 2nd XI games. This a consequence of me asking our scorer if LUFC had won their game, during Tony’s team talk. Initially I wasn’t happy with this edict, however as the 1970’s drew to a conclusion and Leeds’ quality diminished, it became clear the skipper was actually doing me a big favour.
Mark Cook – Bearded third team opening batsmen who a team mate mischievously claimed had converted to Islam and changed his name to Cat Stevens. In reality he’d converted his home to North Sea Gas.
Mick Fleck – 3rd team fast bowler – A bit of a rogue whose running speed between wickets seemed to increase markedly if he heard passing police siren while batting.
Tommy Maddison – 2nd team spin bowler – An undemonstrative cricketer, who smoked a pipe off field. Dressing room banter hinted at the contents of the pipe being the root cause of his seemingly constant serenity. However, (allegedly) John Sneddon’s kids clandestinely smoked it and they stayed pretty high maintenance, so I suspect the pipe merely contained tobacco and not recreational drugs.
Jimmy Devenport – 3rd team captain/opening batsmen – A smashing fella whose occupation involved the restoration of pieces of art. As an immature teenager, I used to quip that his job was a doddle. A theory I backed by claiming “How hard can it be to sellotape a torn canvas back together?”…… No, he didn’t laugh either!
I was custodian of the 3rd team scorebook on the late 1970’s Sunday afternoon when Jimmy hit a century. I’ve never told him this, but he only actually got 78 run that day. Bizarrely, no one seemed to notice my false scorebook entry of him running 23 off one ball.
Rob Harrison – 2nd team batsman – Chirpy guy with a ready smile for everyone, unless they him ran out…… Oh, or embarrassed him into telling people how he got the nickname Horses – A moniker not acquired because of his penchant for eating loads of polo mints…….. Club folklore has it that Rob once ran 23 runs off one ball with Jimmy Devenport (cough, cough).
Tom Rowbottom – 2nd team all-rounder – Scotsman, a product of the Kirkcaldy Technical College where he graduated in Irn Bru Studies. His dissertation received plaudits from Edinburgh academics, particular when he briefly located the missing ‘o’ from the word iron……… Cricketing team mates, though, were less impressed. Responses of “Who gives a s***e?” and “That’s nowt!….. I can turn my eyelids inside out!” just two of the changing room retorts expressing complete disinterest in Tom’s acclaimed dissertation.
Dave Horsley – 2nd team batsman – A roving reporter for the local paper who ensured the Fell got plenty of Gateshead Post column inches…… Well, if he’d got runs in the match, anyway!
In 1980 he was Pulitzer Prize nominated for a moving piece he wrote about the theft of a pushbike from a chip shop on Leam Lane. He also received accolades for his narrative which journalled pushbike pilfering outside of a Wrekenton chip shop. His editor said of him “No one writes as grippingly about pushbike theft outside of Gateshead chip shops than Dave…… The rest of his writing is a right load of b******s though!”
I’m going to conclude my unreliable memories from the popping crease at this point. My parody biographical words were written in a spirit of fondness for the few ex-GFCC team mates I allude to and will hopefully be received as such.