1978 - 1979 Season Report

1978 - 1979 Season

The seventh season of meetings got under way on 15th September 1978 with Bomber Wells formerly of Gloucestershire and Nottinghamshire. `Bomber' Wells played his cricket for fun and with, in the words of Michael Parkinson, "a summer's day in his face and laughter in his soul". He never changed from the happy-go-lucky club cricketer he had been, his batting was agricultural, his fielding leisurely and he bowled brisk offspin off a one-pace run that caught many batsmen unaware. One tale recited his exchanges with his amateur captain after mix-ups running between the wickets. "For God's sake, call," Sam Cook once begged him and he did - "Heads." Bomber was to make a further three visits to the Society such was his popularity.

Francis G Woodhead of Nottinghamshire was the speaker at the dinner on October 15th 1978. He had a sixteen year first class career between 1934 and 1950 taking 320 wickets in 141 matches. Sadly, Frank died in his Nottingham home on May 24th 1991.

Don WIlson of Yorkshire and England made his second appearance at the Society dinner on November 3rd 1988. Tall and wiry, Don another fo Doug Wilks personal friends had always been a favourite with spectators, taking 100 wickets in a season five times and in 1966 he took two hat-tricks. He toured twice with England, to India in 1963-64 and to Australia and New Zealand in 1970-71, He retired from Yorkshire in 1974 and took up the role of MCC's chief coach at Lord's until 1991 before returning to Yorkshire as coach at Ampleforth College.

Mike Smedley was the speaker on 6th December 1978. H had joined the Notts playing staff in 1963 after struggling for a place in the Yorkshire side. He made his first-class debut for Notts in 1964 He was chosen as skipper for 1975 having led Notts in a number of matches since 1973. At the close of the 1977 season, Smedley agreed to stand down as captain but the captaincy returned to Smedley after Rice resigned over the Packer affair. After leaving Notts in 1979, Smedley rejoined his old Bassetlaw League side, Kiveton Park where he continued to appear in club cricket until well into his 50s. In 2000 Smedley was elected President of the Bassetlaw League.

David Harrison was the first speaker of 1979 followed in February by George Pope. Pope played 169 matches for Derbyshire. He could move the ball sharply both ways and took 677 wickets at 19.92 and as a batsman he was good enough to have a career average of 28.05 and tough enough to take Larwood and Voce on the chest. In 1947 he received his one cap, against South Africa at Lord's. In 1948 he decided to retire to Jersey because of his wife's health. He later came back to play League cricket and stand as a first-class umpire between 1966 and 1974. He sadly passed away on October 29th 1993.

The final dinner of the season on 18th April 1979 welcomed Jack Simmons for his first visit to the Society. At the time he was a regular in the Lancashire team. A journeyman professional in the Lancashire leagues, he made his first-class debut in 1968 at the age of 27 and thereafter scarcely missed a match - or meal - for over 20 years. The legendary tales of his consumption of fish and chips should not obscure his great contribution to Lancashire cricket, though it is a significant part of his appeal as a folk hero.

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