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Edward Liddle's Biographies of Irish Cricketers
Roy Harrison
  • Born 30 August 1939 Lurgan, Co Armagh
  • Educated Lurgan College, Co Armagh.
  • Occupation Water Board Engineer
  • Debut 10 June 1967 v Worcestershire Sydney Parade, Dublin
  • Cap Number 509
  • Style Right hand bat; right arm medium pace.
  • Teams Waringstown

Roy Harrison was an utterly determined cricketer. Lacking the natural ability of, for example his youngest brother Garfield, he made himself into one of the most consistent run accumulators of his time by sheer application. The oldest of six cricketing brothers whose father James, himself a moderate but very keen club cricketer, had them playing with bat and ball "when they were hardly out of nappies", Roy was completely dedicated to the game, and inspired his brothers and many others by his approach. He was wrote Clarence Hiles, "The acknowledged general, the "Godfather", an abrasive opener with a broad bat."

Gaining a place at The Lawn, while still a teenager, he was a member of the team which lost the NCU Challenge Cup Final to Lisburn by an innings and 58 runs in 1955. He was to play in 14 more Finals and never leave Ormeau or Strangford Road again, without a medal. In 1965, they reached the last stage again, this time opposed by "the other villagers" from Co Tyrone. Roy with scores of 50 and 46 had a major hand in the victory, summoning up all his hard learned skills to combat the cunning left arm spin of John Flood. Brother Jim, however stole the batting show with an elegant 88 in the second innings. Roy's batting again was a force in the 1968 Final with Lisburn, when he hit a first innings 78, adding 110 for the second wicket with brother Derrick.

Perhaps his best batting performance came in the 1971 Final, when his scores of 53 and 88 not only contributed greatly to the 225 run defeat of Downpatrick, but were also the first time a Lawn player had made two fifties in a Cup Final. Batting honours, however went to Michael Reith who hit a magnificent first innings century, together they put on 165 for the first wicket in the first innings, a Waringstown record. He captained the side to victory in 1975 and 1976, without making a major impact as a player, however, those who thought that anno domini were finally getting the better of "Snowy" were wrong.

In 1978, still opening the batting this resolute and indomitable cricketer hit a first innings 58, top score of the match, against Woodvale, contributing much to an eight wicket win. Yet to many of his devoted followers, his greatest triumph came in the 1979 Final again pitted against the Ballygomartin Road side and their combative skipper JG "Doc" Crothers. The match has been graphically described by Clarence Hiles permits us so it may suffice to say that Roy emerged victorious from the leadership contest, and, trusting in his own ability, bowled the vital overs to take 5-61, seeing his side home by 1 run. Roy played his last Final in 1986, when Waringstown were led to victory by Derrick. It is worth remembering that during these m halcyon years, he also played a large part in bringing them 13 League Titles, two of which were shared.

At a higher level, Roy was a force in the Guinness Cup for the first 13 seasons of its existence hitting 1241 runs at 31.02 with 7 fifties. Many wondered why his consistent batting, added to his form at club level, was not rewarded by an Irish cap, long before he was awarded one. However he eventually gained a place in the Irish side to play Worcestershire at Sydney Parade in June 1967. Like many other very good players, he began his representative career with a pair. The County played their two left arm spinners, Norman Gifford winner of 15 Test caps and, Roy's personal nemesis, Doug Slade whom some denizens of the Black Pear County think was the better bowler. At any rate, Doug accounted for Roy in each innings, having him stumped by keeper Roy Booth, one of the best glovemen not to win a Test cap in the first knock, and clean bowling him in the second.

Roy returned to the side late in the following summer to play Combined Services at Shane Park, on a wicket which Dougie Goodwin, who destroyed their batting must have wanted to put in his "Coffin" to carry around with him. Until that is, he played more powerful opponents at Sion Mills a year later! Batting in his proper position for Ireland for the only time, Roy made 43 top score, sharing a first wicket stand of 51 with David Pigot. He ensured Ireland built a big enough lead not to have to bat again. He kept his place for the MCC match in early September. The match was rain ruined and Roy batted at 3, moving down the order to accommodate future "Inst" Headmaster and Oxford Blue Mike Ridley. Neither man played for Ireland again, though Ridley with a classy 41 did take advantage of a good Castle Avenue wicket to make a mark on the game. Roy fell to two former Oxonian spinners, JD Piachaud a Ceylon, as it then was, born off spinner who took 205 first class wickets in a limited career, and "leggie" Alan Duff, a Malvern College schoolmaster, who was a frequent participant in these matches, for 3 and 12. Though Roy was not to be selected for Ireland in the future, much of his best cricket, as we have already seen, lay ahead of him.

His other major representative match was for the NCU v a strong Pakistan International Airlines side at Shane Park in 1969. In glorious weather, the hosts were outplayed by a side that had ten current or future Test players. Roy, at 3, could be excused a double failure. Saleem Altaf, a whole hearted fast bowler on Pakistan's 1967 English tour, had him caught behind by Wasim Bari for 1 in the first innings and he just managed double figure in the second.

He did not, however go unhonoured. He was President of the Northern Cricket Union in 2000 - 01 and of the Irish Cricket Union. He lacked the stylish elegance of his brother Jim and the natural ability of his youngest brother Garfield, but as cricketer of application, determination, concentration and resolution, he was second to none. In recognition of his commitment to Waringstown over many years the pavilion at The Lawn was named the Roy Harrison Pavilion.