Jimmy Melia – an appreciation

Glossop Cricket Club’s longest serving supporter and friend recently passed away. He was remembered with a minute’s silence before the start of the first game of the season. At his funeral this week, the club’s chairman, Alan Garlick spoke about Jimmy’s life and love of cricket and his affection for Glossop Cricket Club. His words are reproduced below for anyone who was not able to be there.

Good morning everyone. My name is Alan Garlick. I am chairman of the cricket section of Glossop Cricket & Bowling Club. I have been involved with the club since I retired 15 years ago. Jimmy was involved with the club for 85 years at least, having started to watch the cricket as a small boy.

Jimmy was a good footballer rather than a cricketer but he loved to watch the game and never tired of talking about cricket with those whose skills he admired.

He was lucky enough to work in the old signal box outside Glossop Station from where he could watch the games on North Road as he worked. To make viewing easier he cut a window in the side of the box so that he could operate the signals without spoiling his concentration on the match below. There are no records of any serious rail accidents in Glossop during this period.

I can describe my weekend routines at the club in four short phrases – 11am – open club-house and changing rooms

               12 noon – players arrive for match

               1pm game starts  

               1.05pm Jimmy Melia arrives with folding chair and white plastic bag.

He would then find the most sheltered spot on the ground and watch the game on his own before joining the other regular supporters on the members’ bench in the top corner of the ground next to the bowling green. The Glossop players would do their tour of the ground when they were batting and always stop to talk with Jimmy wherever they found him. He knew them all by name – newcomers were addressed as “young man” but soon added to his list. He convinced me at an early stage of my stint as chairman that the young players should be given the chance to develop into good senior players.

I recall last year’s Walkden Cup Final when young Tim Rogers bowled the Woodbank captain with the first ball of the match. I was on the PA system in front of the pavilion – Jimmy had just come on the ground at his appointed time – he turned to me with his lovely smile and gave me a thumbs up sign to indicate that the plan was working. His main interest lay in the progress of our juniors into the senior teams – Matt Sonczak is the latest in a long series.

Jimmy was a good example of the belief that “you don’t have to make a noise to make a difference.”

Our two senior captains Will Hargreaves and Matt Kells remember Jimmy in the same way- “he was always there- he was our twelfth man.” Andrew Dyson, one of Jimmy’s favourites, remembers him as a constant presence at the club on match days. Ian Robinson remembers Jimmy’ s support in the early 1960s when he & Tony Kenyon played in the junior teams.

I recall him meeting Jamie Parton a young Australian who played one season in our second team. I was sitting next to Jimmy on his bench when the players came round on their lap of the ground. Jamie introduced himself to Jimmy in his strong Aussie accent. Jimmy listened politely- Jamie could talk a bit – and when they went on their way Jimmy turned to me and with a straight face asked me – “ he’s not from Glossop is he Alan?”

In fact Jimmy taught me how to speak Glossopian, a distinct northern version of the Queen’s English. His views on the qualities of our various pros were a masterclass in contradiction and concern. He could never decide whether we should pay them in cash or in washers!

I remembered Jimmy this week during our county matches- he always volunteered to sell programmes on the gate no matter what the weather or how much he would have liked to watch the game.

Adrian has put a copy of this season’s club handbook in Jimmy’s coffin – he was one of our life members and his name will stay in the handbooks for future years. His birthday parties in the clubhouse were highlights of our social calendar. He was a vital member of the club for so many years and will be sadly missed. So god bless you Jimmy – thanks for your friendship and above all for your support.

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