Unforgettable Memories. By Tom Taylor
Saturday afternoons as a young Carltoner were spent trying to keep out of trouble by flitting between the football pitch, the score box, the players balcony and the top bedroom of my Grandma's house over looking the ground from a very deep mid off in Ashton Crescent.
If my dad was batting I had to be sat still or had to be out of the way where I couldn't cause any distraction to him!
Living just up the hill in Ouzlewell Green my dreams and ambitions were simple as a kid. To win the FA Cup for Leeds United and to lift the Hepworth Cup for Carlton. From the annoying little lad who was hanging around the dressing room while Roy Sampson or Mark Schofield were delivering last minute instructions, to becoming the 1st team captain for a short stint and giving out a team talk myself. There's been some ups and some downs but the miraculous wins and memory's they bring outweigh the disastrous defeats I choose quickly to forget!
From starting out in the under 8's in the summer holiday tournament held at Castleford, I have played in every team through the ranks at the club and most summer evenings as a kid were spent around the ground. Monday's would be junior practice, Wednesday and Friday u11's and u13's games, Saturday Dad played and Sunday morning was another U15 game if selected. All of which were followed by pop and crisps. I owe a big thank you to Ken Townsley, Paul Stanyard and David Stacey to mention a few as well as my Dad who ran junior teams. The amount of hours and effort put in by these people cannot be underestimated.
My 'first team debut' (if you can call it that) came as an 10/11 year old, away at Poole. Kicking a ball around as the team were coming out to field my Dad threw me a jumper and said something along the lines of 'put that on, put the ball away and follow me'. This was before SatNav, Google Maps and even mobile phones were common place, I think it was Stephen Fox and whoever was in the car with him had got lost on their way to the ground. Nobody knew where they were so here I was, 4ft nothing fielding at 3rd man for the first team for 4 or 5 overs. I know it wasn't a proper debut, but I'm having it!
I eventually made it to senior cricket properly for the 2nd team three or four years later and was picked as wicket keeper for the first game of the season. The game is a blur for me but I can remember my second game away at Leeds Police vividly. Under the captaincy of Ian Smith and having my dad in the same team I took my first senior catch off my best friend David Stanyard. I also 'dogged' out at the end for 7 or 8 overs to claim a losing draw! Back then scoring runs was tough for me with my size 5 bat but I could block and play a forward defence probably better than I do now!
Playing alongside my friends such as David, Tom Ward, Richard Dakin and Lee Poppleton, mixed with seniors such as Ian Smith, Mark Ward, Peter Hartley, Mally Baddeley and Glen Cooper it was a brilliant mix of young and old but it wasn't just on on the pitch that I loved.
Off the pitch the club was always full of characters . People who made Carlton what it is today. People like Brian Ward with his cricket ball finding dog, Vinnie, and Melvyn Tasker would be in the club most nights of the week putting the world to rights! On Sunday lunch time if I wasn't getting a clip round the ear from Melvyn for being cheeky, I would be pressing the button on the "bandit" for Bob Smith and Peter Lord hoping they might give me a handful of 10p winnings.
Coming from a cricketing family I have been lucky to play in the same team as both my brother and dad on a few occasions. Roles were reversed from the Poole episode a few years ago when in a Sunday Cup game. Due to a late drop out I was telling my dad to get his 'emergency whites' out of the boot of his car to which he had no hesitation.
I am obviously biased when I say our ground is the best in local cricket. But it is a fact that opposition teams look forward to visiting. Whilst some of our 'more successful' rivals chose to invest in other things, our club and ground is something others simply cannot compete with. Other clubs cannot buy what we have and that is all thanks to the volunteers past and present which makes Carlton great.
In this 150th year I hope the club can come together once again, be successful on and off the pitch and, whilst never forgetting those that have helped build the club in the past, we can help create a new set of unforgettable memories for the next generation to come.