1990-2008: Every Pro I had the pleasure of playing with – By Matt Hope

One of the most enjoyable things for me during my time as a player at Lowerhouse was the quality of professionals I was privileged to play alongside and still class as friends today. Along with the Worsley Cup and winning the League many of my best memories are involving them and here are a few words about each one of them I played with.

1990 Delroy Morgan

This was my debut year and as Blez described it in his article, my debut did come in strange circumstances. I had just come back from holiday and was watching the 2nd team when Rusty received a call saying the 1st team were one short so rather than taking one of the second team lads, he sent me! I played in borrowed kit and yes I was out for a first ball duck, bowled by Mike Whitney. In fact my start to First Team cricket was not good. The first ball I faced I was out, the first ball I bowled was a wide and the first catch that came to me I dropped. Things can only get better!

Anyhow back to the Pro and the main recollection of Delroy was how quiet he was, but what a class batter he looked. He didn’t seem to come to terms with the wickets or the pressures of being a League Pro. Nice guy though and always had time for the younger lads and did help me during my few games.
1991 Manoj Prabhakar

Can’t really comment much on him because I think I only played 2 games that season I don’t think the skipper at the time rated me… He looked an amazing cricketer but the atmosphere around the place didn’t seem too great until the final few games.
1992 & 1993 Cameron Williamson

My first real memory or working with a professional. Very nice guy and really tried to bring a professional approach to the club. Good all round cricketer and would have been a top pro in a stronger side. One of the lasting memories which I think helped me during my career was he challenged each member of the team to contribute to winning 2 games a season. In his first season he had over 700 runs and 65 wickets. We resigned Cameron for a second season and he again scored 700 plus runs and took 75 wickets in his second spell but only finished one place higher in the league in 10th. Don’t think we could re-sign Cameron because he hadn’t played enough first class games for the year after.

1994 Craig Light

Where do I start? Lovely lad amazing batter but absolutely bonkers. Best memory of Craig was his first game with new skipper in charge, Gary Moorhouse and everything was new to him. We had met Craig and he seemed all okay however somebody took him to the Fence Gate for something to eat one night during the week and he seemed to take a liking to it. So we were all on the pitch warming up ready to play a strong Ramsbottom side and Craig was nowhere to be seen with only 15minutes before we tossed up. Suddenly in comes his car music on full blast and he walks into the changing room with his kit and a big Ghetto Blaster. Gary talked to him, I don’t know what was said but we were bowling first. I think they got about 180 and we were poor in the field. At the interval Gary was giving us one of his customary talking to’s and Craig just said, “Listen its happened, lets concentrate on our batting!” and switched his Ghetto Blaster back on and I am sure he lit a cigarette and sat down. He then went out and got a fantastic 120 odd not out, we thought “What have we signed here?” To be fair things got a lot worse and we ended up 2nd to bottom that year.
1995 & 1996 Shawn Flegler

A quality pro in every aspect. Bat, bowl, fielding and all round good club pro. I had the good fortune to have him lodging with me in his first year but that’s another story, or stories. Brought along with Gary a very professional approach to preparation and also match day set up. In Flegs’s first year he was a left arm orthodox bowler which brought him 80 wickets and his batting was just short of 1000 runs which made for an excellent year personally for him. We finished 6th that year which was the highest we had done for a while. In his second year he was asked to bowl left arm china man by his state side which to be fair was not as successful as the previous year bringing him 56 wickets and with the bat he scored 850 runs which was still a good result and managed to keep us in 6th place. We couldn’t sign Shawn again for a third year down to the rule regarding amount of first class games he had played. All round good bloke and one of the best club pros we have had

1997 Corrie Jordan

Think enough has been said about this year and all very true in Jez and Stan’s articles, however I do disagree with Jez as Chippy and I could pick his wrong ‘un after about 6 games. This was my first year as captain and after around 10-15 games Corrie came to me and asked me if he could open the batting because he didn’t feel he could contribute lower down the order. I let this happen, because to me, no matter where he batted he would not have scored runs. But after one game in particular after he had failed opening the batting he then went round the ground telling all the members I was hanging him out to dry because I knew he couldn’t bat and was showing him up. This is what we were dealing with…

1998 Matthew Mott

What a catch this was by David Wren! No better person to bring the club back together than Motty. Fantastic around the club and in the changing rooms, Motty brought the spirit back in again and made everyone want to play again. It wasn’t a good year cricket wise purely down to the rule changes with them now being 100 over games and the side batting first could bat a maximum of 55 over’s if required. The team batting second could then decide to go for the full total or get bonus points for getting percentage of the oppositions score. Thanks god this only lasted 1 year because it was the worst cricket I have ever played in. One game we played Bacup and they batted 55 over’s and got around 190 we fell about 4 runs short of the total in 45 over’s and we got the same points. Great game… Motty finished with 850 runs 40 wickets and we finished 10th. Not sure why we didn’t sign Motty again to be honest.
1999 & 2000 Martin van Jaarsveld

Probably best batter I have had the pleasure in watching. I wasn’t captain this year because I felt my own performances were not good enough and too much of my attention was on captaining the team rather than my own performances. Martin broke the club record in his first year and some of his knocks were a pleasure to watch either from the side or in the middle with him. In his first year he scored over 1200 runs and took 45 wickets leaving us in a very good position of 4th in the league. We re-signed Martin and again he was a class act with the bat scoring nearly 900 runs and taking 35 wickets with his right arm off spin. We dropped to 8th that year and Martin moved on to Enfield where again he scored a lot of runs. Excellent pro both on and off the field.
2001 Jon Kent

Jon looked a very good all rounder on paper and showed glimpses of his ability in the few games he played before having to go home with an injury. It was shame because I think he would have been a top pro and we were all gutted for him. Again all credit to Dave Wren and the committee I think we finished around 6th using a lot of sub pros. Probably the best of them was Claude Henderson.

2002 Jacques Rudolph

Another amazingly talented batter form South Africa. The only thing we struggled with this year was Jacques inability to bowl his leg spin which we were looking forward to seeing along with his batting. Jacques really struggled with this and even turned to bowling medium pace. The highlight of this year was Jacques record breaking 5 consecutive centuries with I think 4 of them being not out maybe 3. We had a poor season generally finishing second to bottom for the first time in a long time. Jacques was a lovely young lad and went on to have a fantastic first class and international career.
2003 Ryan Harris

To me he was the best professional I have ever played with and still a good friend to this day. Sadly for us all he got injured with after about 10 games and if I remember correctly this could be the year he lost his mum and returned home to Australia early. We would see more of Ryan in a few years. One memory for me was the away game at Burnley we only posted about 120 and after an unbelievable piece of fielding off his own bowling Ryan run his opposite number out Joubert and we were back in the game. I went to Ryan after about 10 or 12 over’s he had bowled and discussed him looking a bit tired and his pace dropping and suggested him having a rest. I cannot repeat what he said but for my health I decided to let him carry on bowling, and he did not disappoint. We went on to win the game with Ryan bowling unchanged all day All I can say is he was a fantastic cricketer person and team member and would do anything for the club and his team mates. We cam 8th that year again having to use a lot of sub pros which is never easy.

2004 Peter Fulton

“2 metre Peter” a very likeable New Zealander and the picture of him asleep on my settee with nearly all his legs hanging over the edge will stay with me forever.

A very good batsmen and decent enough medium pace bowler Peter was part of history in helping us win the Worsley Cup on that amazing day in 2004. To me Peter didn’t get the volume of runs he should have although he got over 1000 in all competitions, I thought he was better than that and on his day was a pleasure to watch. Having said that I don’t think any one could argue with the commitment and help he offered for everyone and was a real team player and a very good bloke.
2005 Andrew McDonald

Andrew will go down in history as the first Lowerhouse pro to win the League with us. An absolute fantastic cricketer both with bat but most of all the ball. His ability to move the ball both ways was a joy to watch and he used to knock the oppositions lower order over very regularly. Andrew had the pleasure of playing in my opinion the best amateur side we have had and this with his efforts brought us the league trophy after last year’s cup win.  Still a good friend too many at the club to this day and always makes an effort to come and see us whenever he is over here. Along with Ryan the best I have had the pleasure of playing with.

2006 Ryan Harris

The return was always on the cards for Ryan due to what can be only described of his love for the club and him wanting to finish what he had started. He did not disappoint some of his bowling spells were as quick as I have seen and troubled nearly everyone he came up against. Although his return of nearly 700 runs and 70 wickets was not eye catching what Ryan did for everyone and the club will long be remembered, Along with Andrew McDonald these two were both unbelievable cricketers and men. Great to still call both of them friends

2007 Aaron O’Brien

I can’t remember who we had originally signed and who pulled out but we had Ryan Harris for the first 5 games then slow left arm bowler Aaron O’Brien for the remainder of the season. Aaron was a quality bowler and took 50 wickets in his 17 or so games but only managed 230 odd runs. Very surprising this because he did look like he had the ability but I did think he struggled with the wet summer and pitches that year. Good lad around the club and just a shame he didn’t score the runs because I think we would have signed him again.
2008 Brendan Drew

This was my last year as a player at the club and I had to finish mid way through the season due to injury. However the time I spent with Brendan he was another pleasure to play with. He scored a lot more runs for us than any one though he would and although his bowling was very good and accurate couldn’t quite hit the length required for league cricket and his bowling did not get the rewards it should have done. Another typical Australian who gave his all for the club and a shame he didn’t get the wickets because I think we may have signed him again the year after.
All in all I have been very privileged to play with some great professionals and I am very grateful to have been given this opportunity. There is only one club I wanted to play for and the pleasure I gained from spending all my time at Lowerhouse will live with me forever.