Cricket vets recall the golden greats
CRICKETING icons spoke fondly of their unforgettable memories of Hyndburn in a fascinating documentary charting one of cricket’s golden eras.
Former Accrington and Rishton stars Sir Viv Richards and Sir Wes Hall featured heavily in BBC programme ‘ Race and Pace: The West Indians in East Lancashire’.
One of the most famous players to play at Accrington Cricket Club was Hall, who signed in 1960.
The Barbados fast bowler, who spent three seasons as a Lancashire League professional, said coming to Accrington was ‘the defining moment’ in his life. He said: “I was away from home, had to live with people who were strangers and had to be the type of person that people loved to be around.
“I was like the fly in the coconut ice cream - very, very, noticeable. I was very grateful that they were so good to me. We had a great time. The people were fantastic.”
Hall has formed lifelong friendships with former team mates in Accrington, including opening bowling partner Jim Eland.
Jim suffers from Alzheimer’s but still recalls his cricketing days thanks to photos and cuttings.
Hall told the documentary he was delighted to welcome Jim to Barbados 10 years ago.
He added: “They are in my heart. I pray for them, I talk about them all the time. I often remind people of brotherly love and peace and that’s what Accrington brought to me. I’m only 80 so if there’s one thing I’m going to do, that’s to return to Accrington some time.”
Accrington fan Russ Cuddihy vividly recalled the moment he first saw Hall take to the field.
He said: “He had a West Indian cap on, all his whites on and a long raincoat down to his ankles. He walked across and we were all looking and thinking ‘that’s Wes Hall’.”
Accrington and England’s David Lloyd spoke of how Hall, who gave him his first bat, influenced his career and of the wider impact that West Indian professionals had on the league in that era. He said: “You’re talking about the best players in the world. These guys were clamouring to come and play Lancashire League cricket. You would see these professionals walking around town and they would be celebs. It was terrific.”
Sir Viv Richards, one of the best and most charismatic players ever to wield the willow, stunned the world when he signed for Rishton in 1987. Richards had a suitably flamboyant introduction into Lancashire life when he arrived by helicopter before scoring 87 runs in his debut knock.
Richards said Rishton was a ‘special time’ and spoke about his team mates, friends and his (acquired) taste for ‘mushy peas and pies’.
He said: “When I first went it was so gloomy and I couldn’t understand how cricket could be played in this part of the world.”
Rishton captain David Wells, who played and led Sir Viv during the season, said it was a ‘magnificent’ time. He said: “Everybody is supposed to get a day in the sun and mine was saying that I captained Viv Richards.”
The documentary was broadcast on Monday, but is available on BBC iPlayer.
Sir Wes Hall recalls his time playing for Accrington when he opened the bowling with Jim Eland (inset)
David Wells shares his memories of the year he played with the legendary Viv Richards (inset) at Rishton Cricket Club.