teaches Ireland a cricketing lesson
Perhaps it was the rock hard
pitches baked by the searing North African sun or maybe the influence of the
strict military discipline that taught young army recruit John Ireland the
subtle art of off-spin during his National Service in Egypt in 1952/53. What is
not in doubt is Ireland’s massive contribution to the success of the YMCA
Cricket Club in its post war period.
Like most good cricketers,
Ireland’s love of cricket was formed at an early age. And it was this enthusiasm
for the game that persuaded the then 20 year old to opt for the ‘dreaded’ night
shift in order to participate in the numerous cricket matches that were arranged
between different regiments and officers during the daytime. Following his spell
abroad Ireland returned to Bristol where he began a long and successful career
at Golden Hill from the 1959 season onwards. True to form he quickly settled
into the business of taking wickets – and lots of them!!
The popular off-spinner's
career was full of highlights but none more so than his appearance in the
inaugural final of the B&D Knockout Cup at the County Ground in 1964. In a
thrilling finale against the opponents, Imperial CC, John Ireland and his last
wicket partner Ray Cork were involved in a desperate attempt to score the three
runs required off the last ball for victory. Sadly, the pair fell one run short
in what remains the closest final in the Cup’s history.
Ireland secures YM’s first ever league win
During a highly
respected career that bridged four decades, John Ireland’s intelligent and
consistent bowling was to secure him a list of achievements that are, almost,
unrivalled in the clubs history. He went on to hold the current post war club
record for the most senior wickets,
dismissals (a record that may soon be challenged by J.F. Chidgey). Other
milestones included the record for the most 1st X1 wickets in a
league season - 46 in 1982 and a remarkable haul of 8 for 10 against Hanham CC
in May, 1973 - a performance which remained his ‘personal best’ and also
inspired the YMCA to its first ever victory in league cricket in the newly
formed B&D League.
Undoubtedly amongst the
most successful bowlers ever to have played for the ‘Young Men’, Ireland’s
record speaks for itself and has deservedly earned him a place in the club’s All
Time Greatest XI, as published in the club’s
High praise indeed for a
8/10 v Hanham in 1973
Statistics are up to the end of the 2002 season
Born: 24 June 1933
Year Joined YMCA: 1959
Playing Details: Although I bowled Off Spin for
most of my YMCA career, for one season I did change to bowling medium pace.
However, I quickly decided that I was best as a slower bowler. When I joined the
club I used to bat at number six or seven. In the latter days, however, I was a
superb number 10 or 11!
Other clubs played for:
Best YMCA Match Played In: The final of the
B&D Knockout Cup against Imperial in 1964. It was a great game, played at the
County Ground. Unfortunately, we just lost the game on the last ball, but it was
a super day for the club.
Favourite YMCA Batsman (past or present):
Favourite YMCA Bowler (past or present): Roy
Favourite Cricket Grounds: Sleepy Hollow and
Least Favourite Cricket Ground:
Favourite Professional Cricketer:
Favourite Football Team:
Favourite Holiday Destination:
The next one I'm going to!
Motto In Life: Do it whilst you can, and
enjoy it whilst you can.