My days at Carlton – with permanent disfigurement. By Steve L Smith
Many congratulations to Carlton Cricket Club on reaching a great milestone of 150 years. Although I haven’t played at Town Street for over 40 years, I was there for my formative years as a cricketer and have great memories of the people I played with. I call back at the club whenever I can (very rare these days) and, although many of the guys I played with have now passed, I am pleased to see old playing colleagues still having a strong association with the club. To me, that is an indicator of the strength of the club and I wish the club ongoing success.
At times, I regret having left Yorkshire to study at Cardiff University, a move that was life changing in many respects, not least that I had a barren few years when I did not participate in the game at all. That was perhaps driven by the fact that the club I joined in 1976, although reasonably successful, did not have the same club environment or feel to it as I had experienced at Carlton.
I had developed an interest in the game at Rothwell Grammar School in the 1960s, and discovered I had a little bit of talent. Team mates at school were playing at various local clubs, but after trying to enhance my skills elsewhere for a few years without much success, I joined Carlton c. 1968 to play competitive U18 cricket. I discovered it was a great club to join and I was playing alongside the emerging talents of Stuart Burton, Ken Barry, Stephen Moffatt and Les Samson (to name just a few I remember well). We were exceptionally well mentored and coached by Paul Stanyard and other senior players.
If I remember correctly, I was lucky enough to pick up a Junior award in my first couple of seasons, which gave me the opportunity to buy my first quality bat – a Gunn and Moore Cannon (I still have a Cannon today – not the same one – to use for my occasional innings in South Wales League cricket). I was also fortunate to be selected for 2 nd XI cricket in those early days, playing alongside guys mentioned many times in other memories – Ken Oldroyd, Gerald Taylor, Geoff Moffatt, Ken Clayborough, Laurie Todd; to name just a few.
I learned a lot from that experience and it was a successful period for the 2 nd XI up to my last playing season in 1974, the year I took the League bowling prize. My occasional games with the 1 st XI were equally enjoyable, with my recollections suggesting that there were more Ws than Ls on the end of season analysis.
Some of clubs we played against have lapsed from my memory now, but I can never forget the Highbury postage stamp ground (thanks to Jack Fox for the nudge on the club name) where 300 + was only a reasonable score – I seem to recall such a day when Jack Field (and possibly someone else) hit hundred there before we bowled then out for about 50!
Jack Field is also a link to another memorable game at Leeds Police, where their opening bowler (Carl Kerr I believe) achieved the rare feat of taking all 10 wickets. Jack and I were the last pair at the wicket and I will claim the fame of being the only batsman that day not to succumb to the bowler’s speed and accuracy.
Just one more memory to finish, if I may, as this one had more physical than life changing impact. In 1972 (or was it 73?), I played a rare (for me) Sunday game at the beautiful village ground of Arthington. Fielding at square leg, I took a catch off a full blooded hook, only to find my little finger tucked under the ball as I opened my hand. The compound dislocation needed an operation to restore functionality, although it has never been returned to a normal straight finger. Not that it stopped me playing a game I still love and the incident has given me a rather unique distinguishing feature.
Thanks for the memories Carlton and best wishes for the celebrations in 2017.