DEXTER Fitton has stood down as Norden’s cricket chairman and head coach, and retired as a player after 40 consecutive seasons in the game.
During his time in league cricket he scored more than 12,000 runs and achieved a unique record of having played first team cricket for all four local clubs in the Central Lancashire League
He was with Rochdale as a young player before spending one season as professional for Stockport.
His quality was quickly recognised and he joined Lancashire County for five seasons.
After leaving Old Trafford he served as professional for Littleborough, Milnrow, Clitheroe, and Elton, and there was also a stint as pro with Radcliffe. He also played as deputy professional for several clubs, including Accrington and Ramsbottom.
Dexter first joined Norden as coach to the club’s juniors, then in 2009 he signed up as a player and became head coach at Stag Park.
In that 2009 season Norden finished top of the table on the same number of points as Monton and Weaste, but Stags lost out on a fourth countback.
It was the start of one of the most successful spells, if not the most successful, in the history of the club.
In that spell Stags won the league title four times and captured the Wood Cup twice. They added the Tom Hardman T20 trophy in 2014 when the club had a clean sweep of honours, and in 2016 they became North West T20 champions. The second team won the title twice and lifted the Burton Cup once, while the ladies’ team became Lancashire Softball champions.
Stags had disappointment in 2014 when they lost out in the Lancashire Knockout final, but in 2019 they won the trophy by beating Darwen in the final on Heywood’s Crimble ground.
It was a fitting climax to an amazing career and Dexter said: “I gave it a lot of thought before ending my long working relationship with Norden.
“Cricket is the greatest but most demanding game. In addition to time, sacrifice and technical work players experience many ups and downs. There is no greater sporting reward than celebrating team success with colleagues who become mates through a culmination of collective hard work and individual moments.
“On a personal note, leaving when the team are Lancashire champions fits OK.
“It has been an honour and privilege to work at this fabulous club . I wish Norden every success for the future, and look forward to catching up socially.”
Dexter’s interest in cricket was formed at a very early age when his father Derek played for Robinsons in the North Manchester League.
He made his first team debut for Rochdale aged 14, and quickly became a regular as an all-rounder bowling medium pace.
Rochdale secretary Alistair Bolingbroke said: “In 1983, and Dexter not 18 until August, he was the CLL’s leading all-rounder with 599 runs and 52 wickets. The following year was also successful for him, and by that time many clubs in the area had taken note of his talent.”
After leaving Lancashire County Dexter joined Littleborough and club stalwart Brendan Miskella said: “Dexter fitted perfectly into a team of close knit local lads who played hard both on and off the field.
“We shall never forget his performance in the Wood Cup final win over Rochdale. His big beaming smile stands out in the post final team pic sitting proudly in my office with all my team-mates that day as we sang Back Home with Dexter clutching his man of the match prize of 24 cans of John Willie Lees.
“It was a pleasure to play with Dexter and we have remained very good friends. I know for a fact that every one of the lads who played with Dexter in 94 and 95 have all stayed in contact with him, which epitomises what a great bloke he is.”
Milnrow also won the Wood Cup with Dexter as professional, and former club scorer Stuart Roberts said: “His move to Milnrow was seamless as he carried on where he had left off at Littleborough.
“With Dexter in the side Milnrow were always a tough side to beat. When he left the club in 1999 he was regarded as one of the finest professionals to have played at Ladyhouse.”
So to Norden, and the club’s new cricket secretary Greg Tattersall said: “Dexter was a player of immense experience and it was great to have him in the team. He was a natural leader. He had a unique model of captaincy, mainly because nobody could understand a word he was saying with his rhyming slang team talks.
“Whilst it is very true that for a team to be successful many people need to contribute and it’s generally a real team/club effort. But it’s fair to say that Dex had as bigger influence as anyone over the past 10 / 12 years.”
“He got a lot of enjoyment out of seeing the younger players flourish and was instrumental in developing the likes of Olly Makin (90 wickets in 2011) and Nick Brierley (900 runs in 2010 and 2012). Many of the current 1st and 2nd XI players came through as juniors under the coaching of Dex and he was instrumental in the setting up of the clubs Ladies section.
“With an incredible 18 Senior trophies between 2010-19, including 4 CLL league titles, 2 Wood cups, 2 League T20 titles, 1 x ECB T20 North West Champions and the holy grail of the Lancashire Cricket Foundation Knockout Cup in 2019. This has not just been the most successful period in the clubs history, but arguably the most successful team in the county! A lot of this is down to Dex.”