Nostalgia was in the air at this year’s Northamptonshire Former Players’ Day – held at Wantage Road last Sunday as Alex Wakely’s team began their Specsavers Championship match against Middlesex.
One of the best-attended reunions of recent years saw nearly 30 former players – plus officials past and present – swap anecdotes over lunch and afternoon tea…with just the odd pint for old times’ sake!
Around 50 years of first-class cricket was represented with the likes of Terry Freeman, John Wild, Laurie Johnson and Gus Williamson – who all played for Northamptonshire in the 1950s – mingling with cricketers of a more recent vintage, including David Capel, Adrian Rollins, Mark Gouldstone, Neil Stanley, Gareth Smith, Alec Swann and (briefly) current head coach David Ripley who popped in to say hello.
Former club captains Roy Virgin, Mushtaq Mohammad and Allan Lamb enjoyed the occasion along with David Steele – one of the initial 12 inductees in Northamptonshire CCC’s Hall of Fame – and one of his most illustrious team-mates, Peter Willey. Understandably, John Emburey admitted to divided loyalties on the day – but was nevertheless a welcome addition to the gathering.
Other ex-players attending included Ted Heape, Ray Bailey, Roy Wills, Nigel Felton, Mike Kettle, Robert Tindall, Tim Lamb, Peter Lee and Les McFarlane – with a very special welcome extended to Winston Davis. Former physios Richie Norman and Andy Roberts were also present, plus long-time club treasurer Tom Baughen and former Colts scorer and PA announcer Alex Johnston.
A number of other players were unable to make it to Northampton on the day but sent along their best wishes. Among them were Raman Subba Row, Jim Watts, Mike Dilley, Brian Crump, Rob Bailey (on fourth umpire duty at the Trent Bridge Test!) and one of the founders of the event, Peter Arnold. Mention was also made of two County players – David Pithey and Fred Goldstein – who had passed away since the 2017 reunion.
The late Alan Hodgson was a ‘regular’ at Former Players’ Day for many years – and the award bearing his name, given for notable lifetime service to cricket in Northamptonshire, was presented to Mick York for his outstanding commitment to his club, Great Oakley, as well as the County League and Northants Combination – both of which he served as chairman. The trophy was handed over by Alan’s partner, Linda Rhodes, and the President of NCCC, Lord Naseby.
Northamptonshire’s Former Players’ Day is acknowledged as one of the best-supported on the county circuit – and long may it continue.