Brian Butterworth

It was with great sadness last week that we reported the passing of the much loved former President Brian Butterworth. After a short illness Brain passed away peacefully in the early hours of the 16th of March at the age of 95

The funeral will take place at 10:30 on Wednesday the 5h of April at Rochdale Crematorium. The wake will take place afterwards at Norden Cricket Club.

Brian was a former player, club secretary and president, the latter of these posts he held for 30 years continuously. As President he was always present at any League presentations, Immaculately dressed in his blazer. He certainly was a fine ambassador of the club.

When we applied to join the Central Lancashire Cricket League Brian was prominent in the discussions and somehow we were accepted from Division 2 of the Lancashire and Cheshire League.

The joining of the CLL was the catalyst that enabled the Club to move on from a village club.

Brian was also at the forefront of any legal situations as he worked for Toomey and Goodwin, and was close friends with Bill Goodwin.

In the mid 2000’s upon the retirement of long serving stewardess Pauline North the position was filled by Alan Hyland. Brian and Alan forged an incredible close bond and Brian seemed to spend even more time at the club. In an effort to raise extra funds for the club the two started the weekly meat raffle. From small acorns… as the phrase goes. The raffle was hugely popular and raised a tremendous amount of money. All profits were ploughed back in to the Clubhouse fixtures and fittings.  Even when Alan had retired Brian religiously caught the bus to Norden every Friday evening to sell the tickets and collect the monies and took this role very seriously. The Meat Raffle lasted for 14 years and in total raised over £25k for the club.

In 2014 Brian’s amazing contribution to the club was recognised when he was nominated for an Outstanding Services to Cricket award, with the dinner being held at Old Trafford. Brian won the award and was invited down to the national finals in London. Whilst not coming away with the overall winners prize it was an amazing experience for Brian, as he was presented with his award by former England captain Mike Gatting.

Mike North recalls ;

“Brians cricketing claim to fame is bowling the Pro at Heywood but he did admit that this was in the nets (he played at Heywood before coming to Norden). In the 1940s and 50s there was a personality called Leslie Welch (The Memory Man) who toured the country with his sports memory show. He also appeared in 8 Royal Command Shows He came to Rochdale and starred at The Champness Hall and Brian and his mate (Jack Pilkington) went to see him. Jack said B have you got a question for him? Brian said I have but whether he will pick me out we don’t know. As luck would have it Brian was selected and his question was “Can you tell me Ranjitsinhji’s batting average in 1898? Leslie Welch waffled on about Ranji saying Saheb of Nawagana played at Sussex turn of the century etc. He then asked Brian if he knew it to which Brian said yes and gave it.  Leslie Welch said (“Well we only have your word for that” Brian said OK “What was it in 1899?” 

As Brian said “There are thousands and thousands of averages in cricket and to be able to pick one out would be virtually impossible!”

Brian himself had an amazing memory and he proved many times over the years by recalling various teams in cricket football and rugby league I went to see him last October with Alan Hyland and I mentioned to Brian could he still remember Manchester United’s Championship side of 1948? He said tell me the keeper and I’ll do it! I said Jack Crompton and he proceeded to give me the complete side! It was easier for him to give me the 1958 Brazil World Cup side!! All this at the age of 91. Brilliant 

Brian was also a good singer and he regaled a few of us many years ago with his rendition of Katari (A Neapolitan song) late at night from behind the Club bar.

As we all know he was on the Committee for many years as Secretary and once combined this with being Treasurer. However, to my knowledge he only missed one Committee meeting. This happened when he worked in Pensions for Turners in Manchester. We met up at teatime in the Circus Tavern (my Manchester local) The pub was a big card playing pub where considerable amounts of money were staked I asked Brian if he played Nine card don! He gave me a somewhat disdainful luck apparently affronted that I should ask him. We proceeded to play with Brian as my partner. Time went on and it became obvious that we were not going to make any meeting that night I rang to proffer our apologies ( Not sure what excuse I made ) Eventually at closing time we got a taxi back to Norden via Radcliffe as his assistant at Turners Tracy was with us!!

On another occasion after a meeting Brian gave me a lift home and I invited him in. We drank tea and ate cheese on toast and talked cricket non stop until I mentioned to Brian that it was getting light ! He said “Well I suppose I better #### off then 

On another occasion Brian came into the Club in a white tuxedo after a day’s golfing etc I asked if I could try it on and it fitted me perfectly I then asked if I could borrow it for a week as I was going on the QE2 

This I did and Brian would often say that although he hadn’t been on the QE2 but his tuxedo had and met the QE2’s Captain.”

Mike North

John Murphy recalls ;

“Brian very much enjoyed his life as a single person, in his younger days he would be seen around Rochdale driving his beloved yellow Jenson interceptor cutting a dashing figure dressed in his customary sartorial elegance that stayed with him throughout his life.

Norden Cricket Club and the game of Cricket were at the very core of his existence. He was a fast bowler in his younger days acquiring the nickname of ‘fiery Butt’. When his playing days were over Brian became an administrator serving on the committee as Club Secretary before being elected as President 1987.

It is difficult now to imagine the challenges facing the Club in the 1950s in acquiring a licence to serve alcohol due to the number of devout Methodist members of the Club at the time. Brian played a key role in the acquisition of the licence.

He was also instrumental in the Clubs progression into the Central Lancashire Cricket League and was very proud to become President in the year when the Club won the Championship for the first time.

Norden Cricket Club was always his first love although there was a very special lady in his life, Pauline who lived in Garstang and whilst they never married they remained very close until she sadly passed away in 2007.

Brian lived in the same house in Cutgate for most of his life, in his late 80s it became too much for him to manage, members of the Club moved him to Alice Ingham Court sheltered housing where he very much enjoyed his final days in comfort and surrounded by friends.

His lack of mobility in his latter years prevented him from attending games, he always remained interested in progress being made on and off the pitch at the Club.

I was immensely proud to succeed him as President in 2017 however in my mind he was and always will be the President.

Rest in Peace Brian your legacy will live on at Norden Cricket Club forever.”

John Murphy