Scholes Cricket Club: Interviews
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SOME MUSINGS WITH MELLY ABOUT A MELIFLUOUS CRICKETING CAREER
The legendary “Holme Valley Viking”, Mr Melvyn Booth, venerable Huddersfield Examiner Football Correspondent and Scholes CC player for 31 years, has finally given in to his dodgy knees and hard earned beer belly and burnt his cricketing boots. In a fitting honour he is to take over as Scholes Chairman – and as a tribute to his sterling and unbroken service to the club, we interviewed him on the subject of his long, varied and at times surreal and often hilarious Scholes career.
Melly played his first game for the Juniors when aged nearly 16 at Armitage Bridge. He used to spend every Summer in Wooldale Park playing cricket hour after hour with the likes of the Brook brothers Nicky and Daryl, Martin Brown, Chris Hatton and Richard Pearson. All of them were destined to become Scholes legends in one way or another after the fateful day that Alan Hinchliffe told them all that Scholes were starting a Junior team. They all rolled up on the same fateful evening, and all of them, apart from Hatto, are still playing a major role in the club they first arrived at 31 years ago.
Mel went straight into the Second XI, and made his debut at Higham, making 21. He made his First XI debut later in the same season, away ay Skelmanthorpe. Raymond Hallas was skipper and Ralph Shaw the Pro, and they had enough faith in the long, angular and very thin Melvyn to bat him at three. He didn’t get many but played the next week at home against Emley. Mel seems to have total recall by the way – “Laurence Heap was wicket keeper and Rodney Mee was bowling quick on a crap wicket, for some reason they stuck me in at slip and I was absolutely ***ting it if the ball came anywhere near me!”
So what about Melvyn’s most memorable match and why? “It has to be us knocking Honley out of the Sykes Cup when I was skipper and we were still in the Central League. They were a good team with Mike Boccaro Captain. We bowled ‘em out for 129 but then slumped to 50 for 5, before myself (30*) and Spike Wood (31*) knocked ‘em off. The other game that comes to mind was the Paddock Shield Final in 1996 at Chapelgate against Elland. The club was buzzing after the First’s had won the Sykes Cup the previous week, (our first major District League honour and also secured against the mighty Hullen Edger’s). There was a massive crowd, it was a desperately close game and my first Paddock Shield winners medal. Fan feckin’ tastic!”
I asked Melly about personal honours he’s won down the years. He’s picked up three Premiership II winners medals and likewise Paddock Shield medals. He won the Batting prize for the First’s in 82 and 83, won the six hit trophy in one of those years and was also voted Player’s player in 83. “Ever since then that bastard Buster won everything in sight!” His highest score for the First’s was 98* against Higham, he made 123* for the Seconds against ***tone, and once smashed 135 in a friendly at Chapelgate. He would have made countless more runs for the club had his job as Huddersfield Town Football reporter got in the way of his playing so often.
Mel took over from Pete Beaumont as First XI skipper in the middle of the ’83 season, and was proud to do the job for the next 2 and a half years. He fondly remembers such great Scholes characters as Bill Heywood, Harry Turner, Stanley and Donald Ellis, and all of his contemporaries, several of whom are still playing, and mightily effectively too. Talking of which, one of his many favourite and hilarious anecdotes is about the unique Chris Hatton….fact.
“We were playing up at Cartworth Moor against their Under 17’s. They were complete horse manure, and with Hatto bowling at 90mph (apparently no exaggeration folks) they slumped to 3 for 6. It was brown trousers all round and their Umpire demanded Hatto slow down or somebody would be killed. Hatto wasn’t slowing down for anybody….but said “fair enough”…..and bowled the next ball even quicker – but from about 30 yards – we all fell about laughing”
Then there was the game at Clayton West sometimes in the 70’s. Scholes were short and somehow the elderly George Holmes ended bowling an over dressed in an immaculate brown suit and matching brogues. “ I was wicket keeping and every ball of his one over went for a 4 or 6 apart from one. I was shaking with laughter. That particular delivery pitched on the perfect length, nipped away and took the edge. Regulation catch at regulation height. A lollipop. Of course I feckin’ spilled it. George blasphemed and trudged back down to third man after getting his brown jacket back off the Umpire.” You have to get Mel to tell you the tale in person to get the full comic effect folks.
Last but not least was another game at Clayton West for the Firsts in 1985. “It was the last ball of the game. We needed one run to tie. Mick Haigh was facing and Pete Beaumont up at the other end. Mick swished and missed and turned his back and started to walk off. But Pete had decided to run anyway and the keeper shied at the stumps and missed. As Pete piled past Mick walking in the wrong direction he yelled “start running you thick bastard!” Mick turned round and started running from about 35 yards. The ball missed the stumps at the other end and a less than agile mid-on suddenly realised the fate of the game was in his hands. The useless drongo picked it up and hurled it in the general direction of the stumps – only for it to hit the feckin’ bowler full on the shin for Micky to stroll in for the most stupid single that ever secured a tie in the history of the feckin’ game!”
Last thing we asked Mel was his very best memory of playing the greatest game in the world.
“Walking off after that last game at Chapelgate – I got a great reception and it was a great last night in the Clubhouse – I have loved every single minute of it”
Cheers for all the memories Melvyn
PAUL WHARTON RETIRES TODAY – AND THAT’S OFFICIAL FOLKS!
So I thought we’d better get some words off him before the memory dims, the
girth spreads and “Henry” settles into his no doubt blissfully happy cricketing
retirement with Bev and Grace.
Now you’ve finally made the decision – how do you feel?
“Well, a bit sad really. I’ve played for 33 years, which is a fairly long time I
reckon, but I seem to have a perpetual knee injury these days, and you’ve got to
know when it’s time to pack in. I just woke up last Saturday morning and knew –
You came to Yorkshire in 1982, playing as a quick bowler for Brighouse, (a
leading question here I’m afraid folks) just how quick were you ?
“Oh I was very quick, no doubt about it, bowling big in-swingers – but I was
hopelessly erratic, and I’d already turned 30 don’t forget. I was also a bit of
a lad – often taking the field pissed up after a lunch time session. I was also
so naive that I didn’t realise players got paid in Yorkshire until the end of my
first season – when Brighouse offered me money to come back. I went to Golcar in
Section B in ’86 for one season, then spent four years at Huddersfield, before
joining Scholes in 1991. Steve Booth was skipper, followed by Stuart Greaves in
‘92, and I made 1,000 runs in both years, including winning the first to 500
league runs – made in only 8 innings amazingly enough. I mean I was already over
40, but I found batting a straightforward affair for around four years, and
played for the League side in 92 & 93. I was certainly the only amateur in that
side, and I wonder how many white players have won the Examiner prize since
And you were Skipper between 93 – 96, which were crucial development years for
the club, weren’t they Paul?
“Yes, the key was we finally nailed down a decent overseas pro and pushed for
promotion from Section B. Rashid Patel took 80 wickets, and we got up with what
is now basically our Second XI, and then set about trying to stay up. Rashid
sadly came back injured, so we were desperately on the lookout for a
replacement, without whom we were doomed to relegation in what was then a much
stronger Section A. I’d been nagging “Flat” Jack Simmons of Lancashire for
weeks, as he was a well known agent at the time, and he rang me late one night
“Paul, I’ve got the perfect lad for you! He’s Indian, a top class all-rounder,
who’s done a hat-trick in the World Cup and made a ton against England in a One
Day International.” “Bloody hell Jack, who is he and how much does he want!” I
panted. “I can’t remember his name” was Flat Jack’s unbelievably unhelpful
reply. Good agent eh? Anyway, when he rang the next day, with the golden words
“Chetan Sharma”, I didn’t hesitate, and we never looked back from that point.
Suddenly the club had credibility, and it was easier to sign the top class
players such as Dave Weston and Ian Gray”
Sykes Cup 1996 – need I say more?
“Well we’d steadily improved over the years, from 3rd bottom to 5th to runner-up
in Section A, and then we finally did it, beating Elland on their own ground,
without doubt the pinnacle of my cricketing career, lifting the Sykes Cup at
Hullen Edge. In fact that remains the only thing I ever won in my whole
cricketing career! I did get picked to play for English Universities way back,
but typically I only bothered to turn up for one match out of two !”.
Hard question, but can you put into words what made you end up at Scholes and
stay for so long?
“Easy actually! On my first ever visit here with Huddersfield, I remember Coddy
going down the chippy and bringing back a massive order for everybody, late one
night, and me and Bev stopped ‘til the very small hours drinking. That night I
told Bev I wanted to play here, and thank god Boot asked me at the end of that
season. The club has always been full of characters, the biggest of whom has of
course always been Coddy, who has a heart of gold. We’ve had a lot of laughs,
it’s been fantastic.”
How about naming your best ever Scholes XI?
“Ok but this team qualifies due to its socialising abilities off the field as
much as it’s brilliance out there in the middle.
PAUL WHARTON (No apologies this is a cricketing & drinking XI)
Anything else to add - oh venerable one?
“Yes – Wasim Jaffer is the finest cricketer I have ever seen in League cricket –
and that includes county men – overseas players – the lot. He is incredible.
Yes, standards have dropped elsewhere, but I am saying he is the best.”
Here here Henry – and as one great Scholes player departs the scene, lets enjoy
having another one here this year leading our challenge for silverware – India’s
SOME WORDS WITH WASIM JAFFER
(Scholes C.C., Mumbai & India)
You made your test debut for India against South Africa last winter – what
was it like Wasim ?
“Really fantastic. I had been hopeful of going to Australia before Christmas,
and was due to play for the Board President’s XI against the touring New
Zealander’s, but it rained and I didn’t get a chance to bat and impress the
selectors, so they took Devan Ghandi instead of me. But he struggled in
Australia, and in the meantime I was making 600 runs for Bombay in the Zonal
championship, and then made 170 for West Zone against North Zone in front of all
the selectors, followed it up with 47 for the Board President’s XI against South
Africa, and suddenly I was picked for India. It was a dream come true, on my
home ground in Bombay, in front of all my family, and a big crowd of 30-40,000.”
What was it like taking on the formidable South African pace attack?
“In the Board President’s game, they bowled pretty short, and Nante Heywood
injured 3 or 4 batters. In the test match they weren’t quite as short, but there
was nothing to drive, and their fielding was brilliant. In the first test,
Sachin (Tendulkar) got 190, Azharuddin 102 and nobody else got any runs – but it
was just great to be playing for my country.”
“Donald certainly gives you some, but I just ignore it and try to get on
with my own game.”
You came back to England in magnificent form and seemingly a lot more
confident - was that a direct result of having played test cricket?
“Yes, my self-confidence is a lot higher, but also this is my second season
here, and I now feel like I know everybody here and feel very comfortable”
You must be longing for the sun on your back and some hard wickets to bat on?
“Of course, it’s July and the weather has been absolutely terrible, and the
wickets not particularly easy to bat on. Having said that, I feel we’ve proved
we are capable of chasing this year, more so
than last season, and we should change the game plan to suit the conditions. We
should have put Baildon in here in the Quarter-final of the Heavy Woollen Cup,
but there again, nobody expected the wicket to mis-behave like that.
”Can you beat Brandon Nash’s
record of 1800+ runs last year?
“I hope so – but the weather isn’t helping.
”Can Scholes win a trophy this
“We’re playing well enough to win something, be it League or Sykes Cup. We just
have to keep winning games, and hope that Delph and Slaithwaite slip up. I
believe we have a real chance.”
Your tussle with Delph’s Joubert promises to be a titanic clash today, how do
you rate the South African pace merchant?
“Very highly. I played against him in India for India Under 19’s in a one-Day
Series, and he moves the ball both ways. He can bowl fairly quickly, but uses
his brain in England. He didn’t bat in India, but I see he’s making plenty of
runs over here as well.”
Do you think you’ll be picked for India’s next test match?
“Not necessarily. I need to make some big scores when I get home to impress the
Is the step up from domestic to test match cricket as big as they say?
“Oh yes. The pressure and intensity of test match cricket makes it very hard to
One last question Wasim, I feel duty bound to ask in the current scandal
ridden climate of International cricket, have you ever heard anything about
Well, I’ve only played in two test matches, but I’ve got to say with everything
that happens over five days in a test match, it makes it much more unpredictable
than a one dayer. I feel it would be much easier to fix a one-day International
than a test match.