BILLY Bird’s lifetime of selfless service to Stayley Cricket Club over more than half a century has been rewarded.
The newly refurbished clubhouse at the Millbrook club has been named the ‘William Bird Pavilion’ in honour of the 67-year-old from Carrbrook.
And committee man Billy admitted it was a complete surprise when the club decided to name the clubhouse.
“It was a lovely gesture for the club, though my wife Brenda said it ought to have been named after her for putting up with my spending so much time at the club,” he joked.
Billy reckons he was aged nine or 10 when he joined the club, initially playing in the Under-15 side in the Saddleworth League.
He later played first and second-team cricket and was captain of the seconds when they won the Moore Cup, defeating Micklehurst in the final.
But it is off the field where Billy has been a mainstay of the club serving as president, chairman and committee member.
And he admitted there have been some challenging times when it has been tough to keep the club afloat.
One of the key moments was getting a long-term lease from Stamford Estates, owners of the ground, which took him and other club officials 34 years to negotiate.
Without the security of a lease, Stayley were unable to access grants which held the club back.
“We have had bad times, but hopefully they are behind us, and we can look forward to a bright future going forward,” he said.
That has been mirrored by a massive lockdown project to refurbish the clubhouse and to create an outdoor terrace.
The club estimate it would have cost £25,000 had it been tendered out, but that figure was greatly reduced thanks to the help of sponsors and tradesmen members who have given their time.
Billy has a treasure trove of memories from his time at Stayley.
Going back to the early days he can remember Harry Pilling and John Sullivan, who went on to become Lancashire greats, starting their playing days at Stayley.
He picks Aussie Mike Dermatino and Pakistani Test star Parvez Miah as two of the greatest players from his era.
And Billy recalled the furore when Miah was signed as a deputy professional after they sacked their Aussie pro Bob Morrell.
He said: “Parvez was playing in the Bolton League, but we were given permission to sign him as a deputy pro when he was not needed by Egerton.
“We had a letter from league chairman John Bacon clearing him to play. For his debut , we were playing Austerlands who weren’t happy and, because of the fallout on the day our game, play didn’t start until 5.30pm.”
Remarkably, Billy is one of four generations of the Bird family to have links with Stayley.
Billy’s late mother Ivy served behind the bar for many years, son Stephen is the current club president and still an occasional player and Stephen’s son Fraser, 6, has just begun in the juniors.
• Stayley are looking for second and third team players. Anybody interested can contact Stephen Bird 07525 475278.