- Born 31 October 1923 Bray, Co Wicklow
- Died 11 February Donnybrook, Dublin
- Educated Friends' School, Lisburn; Dublin University
- Occupation Businessman
- Debut 10 July 1947 v South Africa College Park
- Cap Number 433
- Style Right-hand bat; right arm medium pace.
- Teams Dublin University, Pembroke, Clontarf
Bill Haughton was an outstanding all round games player. Primarily a superb hockey player, he brought his hockey skills to the cricket field. Of average height, he was very quick on his feet and hit the ball with tremendous power, favouring the square leg boundary, but able to play straight enough when the occasion demanded. However the tenants of orthodoxy did not over concern him. Emerging from retirement in 1980, to play for the Southern Leprechauns against their Northern counterparts, he was president of the Club that year, he faced the bowling of his former University team-mate, Dr "Sonny" Hool, still pitching on an immaculate length, and turning the ball away from the right hander. Bill promptly mowed him over square leg for six.
"You haven't changed a bit," growled the aggrieved bowler.
Another to encounter Bill in the joint evenings of their career was Dennis Compton, in a charity match at Sydney Parade in the late 1960s. Dennis famed unorthodox Chinaman finished up on the railway line.
"Only a hockey player would play a shot like that," said Compton.
Bill's philosophy of batting was probably not far removed from that of the young hopeful in the Yorkshire nets almost a century ago, under the tutelage of the great all rounder George Hirst, famed as a prodigious swinger of the ball. One of George's deliveries started on middle and veered towards an imaginary slip. The ball was heaved out of the net and over midwicket.
"Look where your feet are!" said the irate Hirst."Never mind feet," responded the tyro, "Look where bloody ball's gone."
Bill, who was also a brilliant fieldsman, came from one of Ireland's long, and widely, established Quaker families, one of whose members was prominent in the early years of NICC. Bill himself developed his skills in both his sports at Friends' School, always known as a good hockey nursery, but also the producer of several useful cricketers. Bill entered Dublin University in autumn 1942. Though he eventually left without taking a degree, he was in the side for six years, making 59 League and Cup consecutive appearances and scoring more than 1500 runs, with nine fifties, including three in each of the 1944 and 1947 seasons.
His best season in all matches was 1944, when he was second in the averages, making 516 runs at 28.66. He was also a fairly effective bowler at University, being second in the averages in 1943, with 15 wickets at 12.93. Though he made a few appearances for Clontarf, the bulk of his senior competitive cricket was played for Pembroke, for whom he made 3209 runs at 29.71, including his three centuries at this level. In all Leinster senior competitive cricket he hit 4967 runs at 30.47, a superior record - just - to that of his contemporary Louis Jacobson, though Louis, by far the more correct player, had more hundreds. However they both shared the same top score 107*.
Bill also won the Marchant Cup twice. In 1948, playing for both the University and Clontarf he made 354 runs at the staggeringly high - for so unorthodox player - average of 78.80. He also won the Cup with Pembroke in 1953 when he totalled 497 runs.
His representative career began for Leinster (the province) v Derbyshire in College Park in 1946. The hosts were outclassed but just held on for a draw. Batting down the order Bill was one of the more successful batsmen, getting 17 in each innings, losing his wicket on the first occasion to future Test umpire, leg spinning opening bat Charlie Elliot. In the second innings he was caught off the England paceman George Pope. Bill's debut for Ireland came against the South Africans in 1947. Unfortunately he was outclassed, though he was not alone in this. At College Park, where only one day, the second, of a two day match was possible because of rain, Ireland were bowled out for 102 by off spinner Athol Rowan, who took 9-36. Bill did achieve the distinction by being the only batsman dismissed by another bowler. He fell leg before to left armer Les Payne, who took 151 first class wickets with his slow medium deliveries, but never played in a Test.
Rowan was not to be denied at Ormeau, where a two day match was over in one. The great off spinner had match figures of 12-24, Bill falling to him in both innings. He could at least claim that his score of 4 was joint second top score off the bat in the first innings, in which only Stuart Pollock (10) reached double figures. Mr Extras contributed 5 and topscored with 15 in the second innings, in which Bill made 8, only Jimmy Boucher (9) and Eddie Ingram with 14 surpassing him with the bat. Bill retained his place for the third match arranged because of the early finish of the second. Rowan stood down and Boucher bowled Ireland to a notable victory, Bill made 2, but Ireland had already won by the time he batted.
He was not recalled until 1953, when he had the ill luck to be chosen for the Glamorgan match played on a pig of a wicket at Magram, a track quite unsuitable for any type of cricket, let alone a first class match. Batting at 4, Bill collected a pair, falling lbw to England all rounder, the left armer Allan Watkins in the first innings, and being bowled by the County's captain secretary and a great many other things besides, Wilf Wooller in the second. Bill retained his place for the two day match v MCC at Lord's This match began on a Saturday in front of a large crowd. Ireland did well on the first day, ending in a position of some strength. Bill had fielded brilliantly in the MCC first innings, holding a one handed catch at mid on to dispose of the Northants amateur WME White. White, however was to get his revenge, dismissing Bill for 25, his only double figure score for Ireland. The visitors were left needing 113 for victory but they collapsed to the bowling of "A fellow countryman on the Lord's groundstaff." (Wisden) Michael Patrick Dowling at a lively fast medium, had figures of 7-34, including Bill for 7. He did not play for Ireland again. It probably appealed to his sense of humour that his services were not required after he had made by far his highest score for his country.
As mentioned above, Bill was principally a hockey player. For both Dublin University and Three Rock Rovers, he was a formidably good attacking forward, who won a number of Irish caps. Several Hockey Fantasy XIs include him in their Best Ever Irish team. When playing for Rovers, he and his brother Ken, also a useful cricketer formed a much feared attacking combination. Some saw him as a danger to play against so hard did he hit the ball. All this, however was done, as was his cricket, with the greatest good humour and sportsmanship. William Haughton will be remembered as one of the most popular players to have graced the cricket and hockey fields of Ireland.
Edward Liddle, May 2009, updated July 2014