Cricket: Sir Everton will give North Down a weeke to remember
It has been a massive year for North Down Cricket Club both on and off the field. One of the oldest clubs in the NCU, their 150th celebrations will culminate on Saturday October 13, with a Gala Dinner at La Mon House Hotel with over 300 attendees.
On the playing front, the club can boast having won the Ulster Bank Premier League and the TCH Down Democrat Challenge Cup, a tremendous double under the captaincy of Peter Shields.
Guest speaker at the dinner will be former England cricketer Paul Allott and the Master of Ceremony's for the evening will be Clarence Hiles, who now resides in Barbados. Even Allott himself may acknowledge that he is potentially overshadowed by the presence that a man like Hiles brings with him from the West Indies.
Sir Everton Weekes was one of the legendary 'three W's', along with Clyde Walcott and Frank Worrell - all outstanding batsmen from Barbados who made their test debuts in 1948 against England.
His most famous feat occurred in 1948/1949, when he set Test records by scoring five centuries in consecutive innings, plus seve. consecutive fifties. In the sixth innings of this sequence he was controversially run out within ten runs of another century. These were his first five centuries, and helped him to reach 1,000 Test runs in just 12 innings, one fewer than Donald Bradman.
Clarence Hiles takes up the story:
"Sir Everton is 82 and as fit as a fiddle. He walks on a local beach most mornings at sunrise and he keeps a keen eye on all that is cricket, home and abroad. His Northern Ireland contacts here are myself and Alan Armstrong, a civil engineer from Carryduff who has been living in Barbados for over 35 years. Both Alan and I involve Everton in family and social events and of course, he's always a willing dinner guest when we entertain Irish visitors.
These days he's the oldest and most popular of the living legends and is kept involved in the game through his involvement with Alan Stanford and his massive Twenty20 sponsorship. Every month he attends meetings in Antigua and he's just returned from St Lucia with Sir Garry (Sobers), as they were assisting the local cricketers there in setting up a professional team.
He's a great conversationalist in small groups, as opposed to public speaking, and he's looking forward to this visit. He's been to Ireland a few times dating back to 1954 and the opening of the new pavilion at Holywood."
One man has been devoting a considerable amount of time to the glorious history of the North Down club is Ian Shields, who hopes to have a book on its 150 years on the shelves by the start of December. The link with Sir Everton continues as he has written the foreword.
The publication will be a landscape hardback of approximately 160 pages and will also feature prominently the photography of Roland White.
In Ian's words be has not been actually working on this for a long time specifically but in reality it is a lifetime. Ian is the custodian of the Willie Andrews archive, which details the heritage of the club, and in some ways it covers the history of cricket within the NCU and arguably a history of Ulster, as he pointed out:
"The book will cover the back to the 1850's and will look at the birth of the unions. There are also the linkages to the Titanic with Thomas Andrews a player for North Down. It will also chronicle the tragedies of the two World Wars, as 12 of our members were killed in the First World War.
When looking at a history of the club, we see it as the three golden eras. The first was in the 1890's, the second was in the 1920's and 1930's, and we are in the third era that began in 1998 and long may it continue!
As a club we have won the Senior League now on 16 occasions, the Challenge Cup 30 times, and on top of this three Irish Cups."
Returning to the dinner, there will be five auctionable items, all of which could be described as unique, but perhaps the most significant is an England cricket shirt bearing the signatures of the 18 living captains of England.
Perhaps more poignant from a local perspective is the print of the ground, "The Green", signed this year by the Indian squad when they were at Stormont and became aware of the clubs links with the late Raman Lamba.
Saturday's event commences at 5.30 with official photographs that will appear in the book and dinner is 6 for 6.30pm.