6 Why Heyhoe is a cut above the rest

Rodney Heyhoe was mowing the outfield at Lightcliffe Cricket Club when the Telegraph & Argus reporter and photographer arrived late morning.

"I've been here since 6am", said the cheery 63-year-old.

"Eric Smith from Swillington Rollers - the Fred Dibnah' of rollers - said he would be coming then. I thought he was joking at first."

It is this kind of dedication that has won Heyhoe the JCT600 Bradford League's Sir Leonard Hutton Trophy.

rod.jpg With its beautiful setting and striking red and white pavilion, Lightcliffe is surely one of the most scenic grounds in the league.

And the outfield and square, which has 14 pitches, look in good nick too - much of that, of course, being down to Heyhoe.

However, he stressed that he would be only too keen to step down as groundsman if someone younger wanted to take over.

"That will give me chance for the wife and myself to get the motor home out and spend more time with the grandkids (Adam, five, Daniel and Tegan, both two, and Rhiana, who is coming up to a year old)," revealed Heyhoe.

Cycling - another passion of his - might also become a more prominent pastime.

Heyhoe's 55-year-old love affair with Lightcliffe started because he could see the ground from his farmhouse window, which was just across the valley.

"I'm not from a cricketing family myself," said Heyhoe, who has lived in Drighlington for the past 38 years.

"I first played for the under-18s when I was 11, and my first senior game came at Queensbury when I was 13 or 14."

The chemistry graduate from the University of Bradford added: "I went on to captain the second team and helped to bring on the youngsters.

"I was primarily a batter and had a top score of 105 against Great Horton, and I was also man of the match in the 1979 Priestley Shield final at Brighouse, which was also against Great Horton.

"I played for nearly 40 years and helped to bring on Alex Stead, Gary Severn and Michael Brooke."

For much of that time, Heyhoe was also helping out with the outfield and, after that, the square.

"Being the groundsman used to keep me sane when I was working as a service operations manager for British Gas (Leeds) but now being groundsman is like a part-time job.

"Last week, we played 11 matches on the ground (schools, juniors and seniors) but so many games makes it difficult to water the square.

"There aren't any first-team pitches, second-team pitches or junior pitches - everybody here deserves to play on a good wicket."

And with that it was back to work by depositing his grass cuttings.

Source : Telegraph & Argus

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