THE Fives and Fifties column in the Evening Despatch was always a popular part of the sports round-up in the newspaper on a Monday evening.

On Monday, July 4, 1977, the following batsmen appeared at the top of the Fifties column for scoring a half century or more on Saturday July 2:

A Clarkson (Darlington RA) 65
R Beadle ( Barnard Castle I) 51
N Wood (Barnard Castle I) 50
R Byers (Barnard Castle II) 66
G Jammeson (Middleton St George) 51

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The column though was not in order and the actual top five scorers on Saturday July 2,1977, were:

G Pratt Langley Park) 77
D Thompson (Darlington RA III) 70
C Metcalfe (Cleveland Bridge) 67
R Byers (Barnard Castle II) 66 not out
A Clarkson (Darlington RA) 65

The fourth batsman in both columns was Robin Byers, who hit 66 not out for the Barnard Castle Second team at Guisborough II. Robin’s father, Colin, also hit 20 as Barney II made 162 all out against Guisborough II who replied with 103, Roland Bowe taking 4-23 for Barney.

Robin was more of a bowler than a batsman but his father Colin had been a big hitter for Barnard Castle Cricket Club and famously did all his batting and hitting without wearing gloves.

A former skipper of the first team, Colin is now well into his 80s and he recalled: “I liked to have a good strong grip of the bat with my hands and when I was captain of the first team I once hit 50 off 17 balls against Seaton Carew. I always tried to play for the team though and one day against Redcar when I was captain of the second team, I was only 11 short of my century with 89 but declared so we had more time to bowl Redcar out, which we did in the last over of the game.

“I also remember facing West Indian Test bowler Roy Gilchrist. Gilchrist was a 100mph speed merchant. When I went in my only thought was to try and hit him, which I did, and I hit his first ball nearly out of the ground. He came in with his second ball and by the time I had raised my bat my stumps were spreadeagled on the ground.”

Colin’s son, Robin, was born in December 1956 and was a promising bowler.

Barnard Castle stalwart Newton Wood said: “Robin was tall and strong and could be quite pacey on his day. He did however have a bit of a bent arm action but I can’t remember him being called for throwing, and he played for the Durham County Under 17s or 18s. He played a number of games for the first team at Barnard Castle and took wickets.”

Robin’s life however was tragically cut short in December 1977 when he choked while suffering an epileptic fit overnight in bed at college.

Colin said: “I was devastated, as was his younger sister Nicola, who had always looked up to him.”

The Byers name lives on though at Barnard Castle Cricket Club because Nicola’s son, Jamie, was voted the most improved player at the club last year.

Thanks to Colin Byers and Newton Wood for their help with this piece.