Carlton Cricket Club – a culture of fun, family and winning. By Stephen Fox

I felt it necessary to outline the importance of CCC and how it influenced my earlier years before joining the Army at 21. It was an amazing place to grow up; the club provided the perfect environment for families. After games on the weekend, the ground would be full of kids trying to emulate the great players who had played for the club that day, no wonder the junior teams were always so successful, they had role models that inspired.

The Sampsons, Coopers, Fairburns, Taskers, Brian Ramsden, Mark Schofield, Paul Stanyard and my dad all had massive influences but the player I admired the most was Keith Taylor, short in stature but a huge heart and the ability to dig in, tough it out and win games with flair, not the best catcher in his later years though!

I used to love watching both teams play; I scored for the 2 nd team before playing for them when I was 14. I remember travelling to away games with Mark Ward, Peter Hartley, Ian Firth, Mark Oldroyd and my dad. We always had a pub stop on the way back but my favourite was Headingley, the 3 horse shoes (my first pints of hand pulled Tetleys) then Brian’s fish and chips! Fantastic days which were to pave the way for the step up to 1 st team cricket.

My 1 st team experiences are mostly happy ones, we still had huge success, and games that stand out are my 2 nd Hepworth Cup Final against Colton at Whitkirk. I didn’t do anything particularly but we had a good side and we won a game that arguably we shouldn’t have, in strange circumstances which included a half time protest where we sat in the changing rooms under instruction from Roy Sampson, we scraped through. Roy was a great Capt, he was a hard bloke who wore his heart on his sleeve and brought his pro Rugby League mindset into the cricket changing room. We were always hard to beat and had that winning character that all successful teams have.

We had many great National Village games, never really fulfilling our potential and making it all the way to Lords, plenty of regional winner’s trophies though. An away weekend playing Freuchie who were the Scottish champions stands out as a particularly awkward fixture. After a night in Berwick and probably a couple too many beers we travelled further north to play the game. We batted first and hit a low score just before the torrential rain came, unusual for Scotland you might think! In a less than popular choice for the rather partisan home crowd we decided that we would take our chances bowling at the wickets rather than finishing the game. I am not sure whether it was the threats from the crowd reminiscent of the Braveheart film but we lost struggling to actually hit the stumps once. Probably a good thing as it probably remains the most uncomfortable atmosphere I have ever witnessed at a cricket match, we stuck together though and walked out with our heads held high.

The club at Carlton itself was warm, friendly but staunchly loyal with an aura of confidence and could be an intimidating place for visiting teams. Everyone wanted to beat Carlton but we had some great rivalries in the Leeds league and latterly in the Central Yorkshire league. I will always cherish pulling on a Carlton shirt, puffing my chest out, head held high and believing we could beat anyone.

CCC knew how to throw a party, Xmas parties for the kids, harvest festivals, winning parties after cup victories, any excuse really! I have climbed up Sunshine Mountain many times and always remember drinking brandy and port out of the Hepworth cup, what a treat apart from the moustache hair! It also introduced me to my first ever holidays, Ilfracombe is a distant memory but Ibiza and Mallorca were fantastic experiences, with a close knit group of people of all ages who were there for fun and each others company. Glen Cooper using the children to test the temperature of the pool will always be a happy memory, if not at the time!

The unsung heroes of Carlton were the individuals who always supported the club through thick and thin and did the unsexy work in the back ground. In my junior days one of these people was Jack Field, he worked tirelessly to keep the U13,15,18 sides going and with the help of parents managed to get everyone to and from games. Other unsung heroes included David Stacey, Ken and Pat Clayborough, Brian and Jenny Ramsden, Muriel Sampson, Ken Oldroyd, Ronnie Ward, they all ensured that behind the scenes the club was in good hands.

But perhaps my most treasured memories are being around my family, my Grandma Winnie, my Granddad Jack, Sue and Martin, my Dad and my sister Lisa, we had some great times and I learned so many life skills that have set me up for further challenges. I was privy to some of the best conversations and local political debates courtesy of Brian Ward, Melvyn Tasker, Keith Taylor, Paul Stanyard, Peter Lord, Sue Simpson, Eric Stocks, Arthur Sweet that a child could ever imagine!

Happy Anniversary to more than a sports club, Carlton is a way of life and a special place that I will always treasure. The players and people who are there now have a responsibility to ensure the legacy lives on.