This article first appeared in the 1977 Derry Midweek League Golden Jubilee Programme. Plus ca change…
Bobby Baird, who was the first man to take 100 wickets in a season in North-West cricket, has some treasured momentoes of his career which started in 1920.
Baird, the fastest bowler of his era – he bowled at 90mph – performed his remarkable 100 wicket feat in his first season in senior cricket, with the old Fawney club.
It was a tremendous performance, especially when one considers there were only ten senior clubs at the time.
“I was averaging six wickets a game,” recalled Bobby at his home in the Old Church Road on the outskirts of Derry. Baird, who is now 73, started playing junior cricket with Fawney in 1920, progressing through the ranks to the senior side in 1927.
He played another three seasons with Fawney, before moving to Ardmore for eight years, finishing his career with Eglinton in 1945.
(Ardmore senior side of 1938. Baird is in the centre of the front row)
While at Ardmore he also earned the reputation of being a more than useful batsman. He scored two centuries in 1933 and he still possesses the bat with which he scored one of them, which was presented to him by the Bleachgreen club. On the bat is now an inscribed plaque recalling his feat.
He also has the match ball – also inscribed – recording his feats as he bowled Fawney to the Senior Cup final win five years earlier in 1928.
They were heading to defeat with Waterside just needing 13 to win with six wickets intact. Baird ripped through their batting taking four wickets in two overs as Fawney won by six runs.
His winners medal has pride of place in his collection. He also has a gold watch and chain presented to him by Fawney for outstanding service, and a broken bail from a game between the North West and English County Champions Lancashire in 1934 at Sion Mills.
Baird took two wickets, one of which was Test batsman Cyril Washbrook, breaking the bail in the process.
“Cricket isn’t the same these days,” said Bobby.
“The crowds were tremendous in the 1930’s. There just isn’t the same number of outstanding players today to bring in the crowds.”