THE cricket season kicks off this weekend, and Kingswinford reader Brian Woodall is already in the mood.
Inspired by some very impressive work in the field by his grandson, Brian has been looking back at his own early days in the local game, and has sent us these photographs and the accompanying memories. Brian writes:
"Having been a regular reader of the Black Country Bugle over the years I have always considered contributing to articles in the paper, but have never followed it through.
"I have read many articles by people I played cricket and football with or against in my youth. Roy Langford in my Vono days; Terry Church and Graham Clarke in my cricketing days, and Tom Waterhouse, my daughter Suzanne's father-in-law, who represented Accles and Pollock in both football and cricket, and is still active in administrating cricket.
"In the 2013 cricket season my grandson, Ross Melrose, performed a hat trick, and this prompted me to search in various places to find two photographs and the cricket ball, suitably inscribed and mounted, that was presented to me in December 1954 – 59 years ago!
"In August of that year, as a 16 year old, leaving Dudley Grammar School but already having played for Vono with the 'men', I was selected to play against Coombs Wood Cricket Club at Old Hill Cricket Club, in the final of the Bassano Cup. In the final over I pulled off the hat trick to win what was a very close contest.
"I was presented with the match ball at the annual dinner/presentation held in December at the Ward Arms Hotel in Dudley, by Ronnie Bird, captain of Worcestershire.
"Included in the guest list were Beryl Stevens and Bob Kennedy, who with his brother Maurice was joint proprietor of Dudley Hippodrome. Beryl Stevens, often played the principal boy in many pantomimes at Dudley Hippodrome in the postwar years, and was featured in the Bugle just before Christmas last year (see our December 5 edition).
"On the left of the photo of the top table was Bill Merritt, the New Zealand test cricketer who played for Dudley Cricket Club and also owned the sports shop in the arcade in the town, just down the steps towards the bottom. It was then run by Ted Farmer, the legendary goal scorer for Wolves.
"Next to Beryl was the world-famous film star and comedian Terry-Thomas, well known for the gap in his teeth, and always using a cigarette holder.
"Next to Terry was Bob Kennedy and in the background, as well as myself, were Richard Plant, Eric Morris and Percy Grosvener, all management at Vono or associated companies."