Morrison maintains glove affair

First published in News

He's 65 next, has hands like a back street bone yard, swore ages ago that he'd ended his 45-year glove affair with wicket-keeping.

At the weekend, however, Dave Morrison picked up both a Darlington and District League championship medal and - in the shape of a serious shiner - a cricket trophy every bit as lustrous.

Keeping canny? "Well I was until then," he insists.

"It's the third time it's happened on the last day of the season, just as we were going on holiday. Things aren't too good at home just now."

"It's not him who's had to wash the blood out of the pillow case," says Valerie Tait, his long-suffering partner, herself nursing a broken wrist after an accident in a supermarket car park.

"I took a short cut and jumped off a wall," she admits. "Daftness must run in the family."

Long familiar in North-East club cricket - he started at East Cowton as a 14-year-old - Dave returned this summer to Barton, between Darlington and Scotch Corner, after an NYSD League career that included Darlington, Darlington RA, Richmond and Northallerton.

"I'm up and down all day at home. Keeping wicket isn't really much different," says the old croucher.

When last he appeared in the column, however - September 2002 - he swore that wicket-keeping was at last behind him, in order to improve his batting technique.

Though the Northern Despatch once called him the league's best No. 11 - "I was quite proud of that" - he's never so much as scored a half century in 50 years at the crease.

That decision had been accelerated by a broken thumb in the season's first game, for the RA.

"The doctor couldn't believe it, took photographs of my hands, said he wanted to use them in his lectures," recalls the former Darlington newsagent, sub-postmaster and publican.

No peace for the wicket keeper, he joined Barton after playing in 2006 for Masham - and then promising Val that he'd finally retired.

"He conned me," she says. "He thought he'd have difficulty keeping his weight down, bought an exercise bike for the spare bedroom and then a mountain bike which so far he's taken out once.

"A few weeks off and then he's back playing for Barton as if nothing's happened - then he creeps home on Saturday night with yet another black eye."

Barton had beaten neighbours Aldbrough St John - Morrison three catches and six not out - to clinch the A division title for the first time.

The following day they played Coundon in a cup final at Lands, on Cockfield Fell - which is when he caught one in the eye.

"I've stood up to our fast bowlers all season, never a problem.

"We've this lad who's slower, bowls one down the leg side and it goes straight through my gloves.

"Lands isn't known for paramedics so after a bit I carried on.

"It's like falling off a bike, you just have to get on again, but I've never had a shiner like this one."

Coundon won off the last ball, Dave - now in Scruton, near Northallerton - still able to see his way to wishing them well. "We had a tremendous night on Saturday and then several of the lads lost 7-0 playing football on Sunday morning, but Coundon deserved it. "

Despite it, he insists he won't be pensioned off - "I'm under contract for next season" - despite Val's dismay.

"I've told him that his eyes have gone, his fingers have all been broken and he's far too old for wicket keeping, but he just won't listen. Then again, he never did."

Also still behind the stumps - though just a bit bairn of 60 - Tom Stafford reports that Yorkshire, the holders, lost to Kent in the semi-final of the Over 40s county championship.

"We lost the toss on a wet wicket and consequently didn't get enough runs," says Tom, still keeping for Yarm.

Sessay's John Flintoff hit a half century in 138-8. Tom wasn't required to bat.

Still with the old guard, we hear of a quite remarkable milestone while the column was on holiday for 67-year-old Charlie Walker, the Demon Donkey Dropper of Eryholme. More, with luck, on Friday.

Just one football match while on holiday, the FA Cup preliminary round tie between Glapwell - managed by former Darlington defender Les McJannet, 100 matches between 1988-91 - and the memorably named Stone Dominoes. Stone's in Staffordshire.

The club began in 1985 as a youth team attached to St Dominic's church, the kids themselves asked what they wanted to be known as.

Domino effect, it stuck.

The admirable Raye Wilkinson, Middleham based northern organiser of Racing Welfare - the stable workers' charity - reports vacancies for four or five teams on the annual golf day, at Ripon on October 1.

For a joint entry of £180, four-man teams get the chance to play alongside leading trainers, jockeys and other racing figures.

Raye's on 01969 624123.

A few days later, Friday October 5, Crook Town cricket club holds a clubhouse reunion of all former players from junior sides onwards. "We've had some tremendous sides over the years and we'd love to have everyone back for a night of reminiscence," says Alan. Details on 01388 764216 or 07805 372364

How June won the hearts of all

The fortnight-back column on the reunion of Bishop Auckland's fabled fifties' footballers mentioned that they might spend Saturday nights partying at June Laverick's - "the future actress who married comedian Dickie Henderson."

Bonny lass, mind. "Deliciously pretty, beautiful and graceful, 1950s' cheesecake," says a synopsis for the film The Duke Wore Jeans, in which she starred.

This image from a 1050s edition of Picturegoer magazine suggests that the synopsis was, indeed, gospel.

Stan Coates remembers her well. Like June he was born in Redcar in 1931, attended primary school with her, knew that her only "marriage" to Dickie Henderson was in Henderson's long-running 1960s television series.

But what, asks Stan - now in Guisborough - was she doing kicking round with the footballers from Bishop Auckland?

June Laverick was born in Laburnum Road, Redcar, went to ballet school and Sadlers Wells, saw a performance of Brigadoon (of all the buoyant fripperies) and decided she wanted to concentrate on light entertainment.

Her parents ran a pub in Bishop Auckland - the Castle, memory suggests, though it might have been the Aclet, or both - before they moved back to the Royal in Redcar.

After retiring in her 30s, she moved back to Redcar, marrying an ICI process worker and briefly taking over the Royal's licence before returning south alone. Colin Hurworth's 1999 history of ICI Wilton shows her, tab in hand, meeting the workers.

The Queen visited ICI Wilton about the same time, but would never smoke Woodbines in public.

Though she never did marry Dickie Henderson, Stan Coates recalls the rumour that June was "close to" contentious quizmaster Hughie Green. It was undoubtedly true: for years they lived in adjacent flats, next to Baker Street Tube station in London.

June Laverick, when last heard of, remained there. Actress and the Bishops, she is reluctant to talk about her past.

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