From a very hot Sydney I thought I might warm you all up with some memories plucked at random from 60 years ago when I was a young whippersnapper. So, gather round fossils for a bit of a trip down memory lane. In those days my junior membership cost just 5/-. I think it was 6d if you paid at the gate. The backbone of the club in those days were Jack Hayes, a formidable but nice man, workhorse Ken Smalley and a man who seems to have been airbrushed out of Lowerhouse history, Bill Fielding. Does anyone know what happened to him?
Many of you will remember the groundsman Jack Wade. He used to scare me. No playing on the outfield between innings in his day. He would bellow at you to get off the ground. I would have loved to have played for Lowerhouse but I simply wasn’t good enough and that is saying something in those days! I did play in a trial and actually hooked our pro at the time, Pascal Roberts down to the scoreboard boundary for four. The next ball saw my stumps fly all over the place. So no cricket career with Lowerhouse for me.
Another dour character of the time was Helm Spencer. He had played for Glamorgan in the County Championship and was our pro in 1930 I think it was. He used to attend practice matches and who will forget his bellowing ‘pitch ’em up!’ from somewhere in the region of long on. One of my abiding memories is of Jack Foster straight and cover driving the fearsome Charlie Griffith for either 3 or 4 consecutive boundaries. It might not have been Griffith but the venerable Jack is still with us and can correct any mistake.
It was a joy to watch. How many of you remember Jack Salkeld? He ran a newsagent’s in Rosegrove for many years and played for Lowerhouse from 1944 until well into the sixties. In truth I never rated Jack but if you look back into the records he had more than his share of ‘five fors’. A useful medium pacer. By far the best cricketer of that time was not a Lowerhouser at all, Johnny Wardle. Wardle played for Nelson and Rishton and his motto was to entertain the spectators. Many of you will remember his fooling around and he played up to the crowd. We used to barrack him good naturely and he joined in, giving us all a laugh.
I longed for him to be our pro. Having said that he fooled around a lot he was a fierce competitor. The League will never see his like again. I have many more memories but will leave you with this: one day in 1962 when Basil Butcher was our pro our opener, Miraj Mahmood (known as ‘Maxie’) outscored Butcher ending up with 83 not out to Butcher’s 78 not out.
What a performance that was!
Sent in by Ernie Whittaker