The next in my series of Woodvale memories comes from Bob Matier. I accidently bumped into him when he was up in Belfast with his wife.

His wife went shopping so he took it upon himself to visit his old stomping ground at Woodvale. Fortunately for me I was in car park at the time when he arrived and the resulting article was all down to that fortunate meeting. So please read on to find out about walking through Ardoyne, sideline LBWs and throat cutting 6’s. A glimpse of Bob’s cricketing past.

Born on 21st October 1935 Bob Matier describes how he first became interested in cricket by joining the other ‘street’ cricketers in his Isadore Avenue home. He and the others boys even made cricket pitches in the nearby fields to while away their summers.

As with most people, there was a family involvement in the sport, his dad being a great Woodvale stalwart. The initial choice of club and sport was an easy one. His brother Leslie was also a player for Woodvale boys before moving to Queens and Instonians (winning Senior Cups with both clubs). Leslie later migrated in 1964 to the USA.

Bob went onto answer the following questions.

List the clubs and teams you played for.
Woodvale boys up to 1950
Woodvale 2nds and 3rds 1951-1953
Ulster Schools cap in 1953.
Queens 1st X1 1954-58 (Captain in 1958)
Woodvale 1st X1 1959
Instonians 1960-64
Lurgan 1965-75
Limavady 1976-1977

I only played at Woodvale until 1953 as at that time I enrolled at Queens. After graduating my employment took me to Lisburn (played for Instonians) and then to Lurgan where I lived from 1969 to 1975 before moving to Limavady.

Before I moved on I got one game for Woodvale firsts against CPA at Newforge. I was caught behind first ball bowled by Tommy Newburn (I didn’t think I got anywhere near it!). Some introduction to Senior cricket!

I did come back to play one season at Woodvale in 1959 where I played on the 1sts and opened the batting with Raymond Browne when Ronnie Berryman was unavailable.

Your dad?

My father was a stalwart Woodvale man who was part of the great 1930’s sides. In the 1933 final he managed to put on 195 for the first wicket scoring 118 alongside Dick Carroll (101), which is still a record to this day.
He later got involved in the administration at the club sitting on committees and the Council.

Schoolboys Summers?
Can recall cycling or walking to Woodvale every day and after a day’s play often returning again in the evening.
During my teenage years my mates and I never missed a home match for the first eleven. Ground was always packed.

Highlights of cricket?

Graham cup win for Woodvale in 1947 or 1948.
I captained Queen’s. Instonians, Lurgan and Ulster Country. I also played regularly for NCU v North West and again Captained North in the annual match v South. This was all to lead up to my selection for Ireland where I won 3 caps (Two v West Indies and one against Leicestershire in 1962-3).
Senior Cup wins with Instonians in 1964 and Lurgan in 1972 (as captain).

Big Characters?

Many local characters like Larry Warke, Scott Huey, Alec O’Riordan and Stanley Bergan. I also got on well with the West Indian players during those Irish matches and remember vividly the entertaining chat I had with Charlie Griffith.

Playing stories?

During one match at Ballygomartin Road the ball was hit over my head at the Twaddell Avenue end. I jumped onto the fence and saw the ball was lying on the garden lawn. The door of the house opened and out walked a man, razor in hand, half shaven. He said ‘ that *****Ball hit the back door and I almost cut my *******throat.

Another would have been in the late 60s playing for Lurgan I had managed to score three successive hundreds and arrived at Woodvale ready for another. After a single to third man I had my leg stump unceremoniously uprooted by Wilson Scott. Cricket can be a great leveler!

Practice?

Net practice Monday and Thursday where you were expected to attend. However Woodvale, like all the clubs I ever played at, there was never a 100% turnout.

Boy’s stories at Woodvale?

During summer holidays the ground was opened at 2pm every Monday to Friday. The show was run by a man called Alec Cush who sat at the pavilion with some of his elderly friends after picking the sides and batting order. There were no umpires for our matches but if there was a dispute, one player from each team went to Mr Cush. Each gave their version of the event and Mr Cush announced ‘out’ or ‘not out’ and that was the end of the matter.

Transport to boys matches?

There were not many away matches but remember a few journeys. We walked from Woodvale, carrying kit, via Ardoyne, to play Cliftonville on the Cliftonville Road more than once!! We went by public transport to Cregagh, by train to Lurgan and by car to Ballymena.

Administration?

I later got heavily involved in coaching and administration within the NCU Senior Committees including Ulster and Irish Schools and Ulster Country Under 19s. I was also elected Chairman of the NCU in 1975. Was also a member of the Irish Cricket Committees in 1973 and 1974.

If you had to do it all again would you change anything?

My saddest moment was when I tore an Achilles tendon in the second match or the 1975 season at Lurgan and this ruled me out for the rest of the season which I knew would be my last at Lurgan. A year out, change of club and home and a demanding new job as headmaster of Limavady Grammar school all combined to bring an end to my cricketing career. However I don’t think there is anything major I would change apart from that. I thoroughly enjoyed my cricketing days and the fellowship at all the clubs I played for.