LES NORRIS ( 1937 – 2017)
Les, who passed away on 28th July 2017, was given the moniker of “Lucky”. I do not know whether Les was lucky in life or in love however it was the Club`s great fortune to have Les as a Member for over 50 years. He may have been one of the quieter characters of that time but his influence and impact extended over many years for the benefit of the Club and its members.
He joined in the mid 1960`s and was a regular player in the 2nd XI batting in the top order and mainly keeping wicket. He was elected as Second Team Captain in 1967 and 1968 and again in 1975 and 1976. In 1975 he took 22 catches and his highest score was 111 in 1977. Besides having a safe pair of hands, on those occasions he fielded in the deep he could accurately throw the ball underarm from the boundary to the wicket.
Les`s greatest contribution was on the administrative side, on the Ground Committee and latterly financial. He served on the General (Management) Committee in one capacity or more than one capacity every year from 1967 until 2007 with the exception of 1973. He was Match Secretary ((1970-1990 ) in the days before websites and texts . Once the Saturday and Sunday teams had been selected, he had to contact by phone all the players to confirm their availability then report back to the respective captains. A nightmare job which required patience and diplomacy when players forgot they were going on holiday etc.
Having been a member of the Ground Committee for a few years Les took on the Chairmanship In 1975 giving twelve years magnificent service. According to one Annual Report :-
“The Ground Committee has again done a first class job under the chairmanship of Les Norris. He leads by example and by now he must have been over every inch of the square many times. The wickets he has prepared have earned commendations from many of our opponents”.
Les used to live in Greengate so he and Roger Strong used to cycle to the club to prepare the pitches and cut the outfield. In recognition of his voluntary service on the ground and in other areas Les was elected as a Life Member in 1984.
He would have probably continued as Ground Chair for many more years but for the fact that he moved to Wharton, Winsford. Nevertheless he continued as Match Secretary which was merged into the position of Fixture Secretary in 1991.
There was one occasion when Les arranged a new fixture with Westlands & Clayton. He noted the directions in his own fair hand then Les and three other cars set off from Brooks Drive. By Junction 14 of the M6 all the vehicles had become separated and whilst Les`s handwritten directions read “ Leave M6 at Jct 14 and turn right” , somehow it had been translated into “ turn left”. Asking locals revealed that no one had heard of W & C. Cricket Club. Eventually reaching a cross roads in the middle of a housing estate, unbelievably three of the four cars met at this lonely point respectively travelling north, south & east ! Les duly got a lot of stick from the other drivers. Proper directions were sought from a nearby petrol station and the team arrived 90 minutes late just as the home side were about to pack up and leave . The fourth car driven by Graham Oliver last seen on the M6 never arrived so the nine men of HBCC took the field. This was the first and last time the Club played at Westlands & Clayton C.C. The result, sadly, is not known.
In 1995 he succeeded Roy Ingram as only the fifth Honorary Treasurer in the Club`s history. It was observed whimsically that it was entirely apt for our Treasurer to have an address in “Crook Lane”
One of Les`s many responsibilities as Treasurer was to promote the Annual Grand National Sweepstake. Cash prizes were awarded for the first four finishers and £1 for every horse that completed the 4 ½ mile race. However when the draw was made in the Pavilion, the names of all the horses whose entries were accepted were drawn out so if your horse was withdrawn or did not finish the arduous course you got nothing for your ticket . No one minded and it was a good revenue earner for the club.
Les was honoured by being invited to be Club President from 2002 – 2005. Sadly illness at the end of his term of office forced him to resign as Hon. Treasurer and although his visits to Brooks Drive became less frequent , he still followed the Club`s results by e mailing Dave Saddington .
When the 1st Team were playing in the Middlewich area he would try to come along to watch or alternatively try to follow the Club`s fortunes on the Cheshire Cricket League website.
This season the Club has celebrated its 70th Anniversary and Les was a player, Captain, Ground Chairman, Life Member and Hon. Treasurer for over 52 years of that proud history. The present and future of any organisation is built on the foundations of the past. Every Cricket Club needs a Les Norris and indeed Hale Barns Cricket Club was “Lucky” to have Les who made a great contribution over many, many years to its continuing success.
The Club sends its condolences to Les`s cousin, Jean and Alan and his many friends on their sad loss.