Match Reoort Clayton Methodist v Daisy Hill (H) 30th April 1955
Whether it was the fact that a Football Cup Final was being played at Wembley, or merely the fact that spring in the air we shall never know, but certainly our opening match of the season started off more like a Rugby match than a cricket match.
How the sheep got out of the cricket field no one seems to know, but the fact remains that when 3-00pm arrived, sheep - and cricketers - were scattered in almost every part of Clayton except the cricket field. The scene was unfortunate but very entertaining. I understand the spectacle of the Secretary clinging grimly to the wool of a large ewe as it galloped gaily down the Avenue baaing loudly, was the funniest thing since (the cricket play) "Grandad". Although I failed to appreciate humour of the situation, I did appreciate the activities of Tim Priestley as he emphasized his powers of endurance and fortitude by leaping from rock to rock over Fall Delph like a roebuck fleeing from a forest fire, in pursuit of a particularly fearsome looking ram with horns like Old Nick himself. Whether he ever caught the obstreperous ruminant is shrouded in mystery, but one result of the chase was that, for all his efforts, Tin was demoted from no. 1 to no. 4 in the batting order.
The game eventually started under blue skies, and the two Kens – Bradley and Ibbotson – made Daisy Hill do some leather chasing. As the score steadily mounted, 10 – 20 – 30 – 40, the faces on the field grew longer as the Clayton supporters beamed with happiness. Even the ring-side quorum of critics led by Messrs. Stead (R) and Storey were hushed into an admiring silence as 70 for no wicket came to the scoreboard.
Eventually Ken Ibbotson came to a well deserved 50, and Tim, Harold (Swaine) and Tom Butcher carried on the good work by adding a further 24, 9 and 21 runs respectively off the flagging Daisy Hill bowlers. So at 150 all out in a few minutes over two hours Clayton Methodists had hit their 'highest ever' total.
The interval as usual was highlighted by some excellent refreshments, which were 'par excellence' to the most pernickety gastronomist.
Even one of the umpires - a crotchety old fossil even in his most hilarious moments - was constrained to comment that "that war t'best tea I've ever 'ad at any cricket club. Why, there war actually some 'am in mi sandwich" - which of course is praise indeed.
The Daisy Hill batters were soon in the toils. Two overs of whirlwind fury from Michael
were more than enough for one opening bat who was beautifully bowled with the total at 3. The next ball was a hurtling full toss which flattened the middle stump and with only 1 run added, Tommy, who had been bowling very steadily from the Sunday School end had their no. 4 plumb lbw.
The next over Michael claimed another wicket and at this point Skipper Harold (deputizing for the absent Bill (Gross) who was unfortunately suffering from an attack of old-age rheumatism) introduced a potent mixture of cricketing science and applied psychology. As the next batsman approached the wicket - a certain Maurice Wood by name - that master strategist Harold put into action 'Operation Exodus'. With a curt nod and peremptory wave of the hand, Bradley - the mug of all Captains was dispatched complete with cap into the Avenue.
At least so it seemed to the spectators and most of the fielders one of whom was heard to remark :
"I see Bradley's slipped off for a cup of tea".
The Strategist then instructed his bowler - Tommy Butcher as it happened - to bowl him one "a bit short on the leg". Tommy duly obliged and the batsman duly responded by wafting it hard and high and handsomely to deep mid-wicket. The next part of the programme is told in the words of one, Eric Storey, who proved a faithful eye-witness:
“All t' Daisy Hill supporters cheered wildly at the hit and then as t'ball started dropping ther wor dead silence, 'cos suddenly aht 'o nowhere we saw a navy blue cap, then a pair ‘o specs then a green scarf and t'ball seened to drop straight into all t’three things at once and we realized 'at Kenneth ‘d copped it".
The back of the innings was now broken thanks to some good bowling by John Farley (3 wickets for 4 runs) and Stuart Hopkinson (1 wicket for 5 runs) and two splendid catches by Stuart Downey - one veritably plucked from the skies single-handed - the score finally reached a miserable total of 23 and the Meths had won their first two points.