By Alan Birkinshaw
One of the JCT 600 Bradford League's most respected and best known figures has died. Bowling Old Lane chairman Michael Hope passed away this morning after a short illness.
The 71-year-old had a life-long passion for cricket and was chairman of the Bradford Junior Cricket League, a post he filled, with dedication, wisdom and unfailing enthusiasm for more than 30 years.
He was a man who had traditional cricketing values and was never afraid to speak up and express an opinion even if it wasn't the popular view.
His association with Bowling Old Lane stretched back to his boyhood. His father Ernest was a former president of the club and his mother Alice ran the tea tent.
Michael, who was educated at Marshfield Primary and Carlton Grammar School, made his debut for Old Lane's third team as an eight year old.
He progressed to the second team by the time he was 12, and though he did play some first team cricket, the bulk of his career was spent with the second team.
A serious knee injury in his late 20s was to cut short his career as an opening batsman and inswing bowler. He placed great store on playing straight, virtues he shared with his great friend and former Old Lane stalwart, Jack Hill.
When the pain from his knee injury became too great he became involved in junior cricket. acccording to his younger brother Trevor, he enjoyed nothing more than unearthing a talented young player and helping him to make the most of his abilities.
One player who was identified as having the potential to play for Old Lane while he was still at school was current Old Lane secretary Geoff Hanson.
He recalls: "It was about 50 years ago now that Michael got me to join Old Lane. Like so many others, I was a player who Michael saw some potential in.
"It says a lot of Michael's influence that I am still at the club today. He was a wonderful judge of young cricketers and was always prepared to help and advise.
"He has had a tremendous influence on both Bowling Old Lane and the Bradford Junior League. He always wanted things to be done right and he set a great example.He loved cricket."
Despite experiencing serious health problems in recent years he was still a regular visitor at Old Lane where he would sit alongside Hanson and club president Brian Clough as they disected the action.
The trio were known affectionately as "The Three Musketeers" and all three share the distinction of having won the Bradford League's most coveted award, the Sir Leonard Hutton Trophy.
As well as watching matches at Old Lane, Hope enjoyed his regular visits to Undercliffe. There he would sit quietly in the corner of the lounge reading the day's newspapers while enjoying a drink. Wednesday nights were his favourites when he could watch the under-17s play too.
He was a well read man who kept abreast of the latest developments in the world, however he freely admitted that email, websites and computers were not fo him. Neither was Twenty/20 cricket because he was a traditionalist to the core.
His wise counsel and knowledge will be missed by all those who have had the benefit of being in his company. Cricket has lost a pationate disciple, a man who gave generously of himself for the benefit of others.
Michael Hope will be missed but never forgotten.
|The Three Musketeers, Geoff Hanson, Brian Clough and Michael Hope