Tribute to Michael Fitzpatrick – Paul Hargreaves

It is with great sadness that I heard this week about the passing of long-time Lowerhouse member Michael Fitzpatrick.

It must have been in the mid-’80’s that I first knew him. He was known as ‘Mick the Painter’. He often sat in the same vicinity as myself, usually in the company of Jack Foster and Tom Howarth. I was always interested in the Club’s history and would eavesdrop their conversations when they talked of league cricket in the 1950’s.

If it was further back than that in the thirties, Francis Corcoran was the man. Michael was often dropped off by his wife at away games, leaving him to find a lift home. He and I therefore often travelled home together. Sometimes we heaped praise on the boys, other times we bemoaned our luck.

One of the few times I gave him a lift both ways was to Church for the Worsley Cup final of 2012. We were warned that parking on or near the ground was near impossible and we ended up nearly a quarter of a mile away on some housing estate. Michael never complained because if Lowerhouse was his first love; then rambling ran it a close second. That 2012 season was the club’s only ‘double’ and nobody was prouder than Michael for that great achievement.     

Michael was the kind of fan that is now sadly dwindling in Lancashire League circles. He reminded me of the much-missed Alan Bradley.  They were so fully invested in the team’s fortunes. Every time I saw either of them they would have some gossip or juicy titbits about who the next pro’ would be or if the club had picked up a new amateur. Much of their speculation didn’t come off but that hardly mattered. I would see Mick quite often. Sometimes he would help a neighbour out by walking a dog. Other times I’d be pottering about at the bowling green and he’d stop for a chat on his way to William Hills in Rosegrove. His fortunes in recent years depended on the form of North Yorkshire trainer Richard Fahey. I’d stopped asking Mick to have a cuppa at the green.

One day at the cricket he explained why he didn’t. His first and last venture onto a green was at Ightenhill Park. He and his friend , who had promised to give him some bowling insight,  had just started playing when another man collapsed and subsequently died. From then on the sport was a bad omen for Mick although I tried to explain that for a bowler it was a great way to go.

Indeed the Burnley F.C. great, the incomparable Bob Kelly, died in that very fashion after his retirement to Blackpool. Looking back it’s probably good that Mick didn’t witness that at his first cricket match because the fun, enjoyment and occasional frustration watching Lowerhouse, was such a big part of his life.       

I was passing Michael’s Lowerhouse Fold abode about a week ago when I realised I hadn’t seen him for the longest time. I suspected he wasn’t well because he would be outdoors plenty if he could be. Sometimes it’s just crap to be right!   

It seems the club has lost so many of my fellow ‘Liverpool Rd.’ supporters in just a few short years. They all cared greatly for the club but none more so than Michael Fitzpatrick. R.I.P.

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