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A Geordie All-Rounder: 31 - Playing Against The Australians

"Perhaps the highlight of the season was when we nearly beat the Australian touring side. We needed one run off the last ball of the game to win with myself as the unfortunate batsman.''

Malcolm Scott continues his account of a sporting career.

"Perhaps the highlight of the season was when we nearly beat the Australian touring side. We needed one run off the last ball of the game to win with myself as the unfortunate batsman.''

Malcolm Scott continues his account of a sporting career.


After an eventful season with Newcastle United and having recovered from my leg injury but still on the transfer list, I returned to Northampton for another summer of County Cricket. Subba Row continued as captain but Jack Manning, the Australian slow left arm spin bowler, had retired due to injury. I hoped his retirement might give me a better chance to obtain a regular place in the first team.

I still had Mike Allen to contend with for the left arm spinner's spot. Mike had been a regular wicket taker for the first team since the late 1950's, but had an unexpected loss of form early during the 1961 season. I was quick to accept the challenge and played in 19 of the 30 championship games, taking 69 wickets at 23 runs per wicket. This earned me second place in the County's bowling averages.

Perhaps the highlight of the season was when we nearly beat the Australian touring side. We needed one run off the last ball of the game to win with myself as the unfortunate batsman. Albert Lightfoot was at the other end, not out at 57. I had just come in and we conferred in the middle, agreeing whatever happened we would run and that run should win the game. Alan Davidson bowled me a real snorker which I couldn't get near, so I took off up the wicket whilst the ball was going through to keeper Bobby Simpson deputising for Wally Grout. Halfway up the wicket I realised Albert hadn't moved. I was run out. There were sharp words from the skipper when we got back to the dressing room. We were all disappointed. Until then I had had a good game taking 2 for 42 in the first innings and 3 for 39 in the second.

Our fairly young team had a disappointing season. We had to win our last game against Kent at Dover to avoid the bottom position in the league. Brian Crump and I did our part by taking 16 wickets between us and then Brian Reynolds scored 102 not out to steer us home.

After the cricket season finished and without a contract to play for any football club, I finally signed for third division Darlington. Why Darlington I was continually asked? Perhaps it was its north-east location and near enough to get home in my newly purchased second-hand Morris Minor.
Most of the Darlington players had experience at bigger clubs. I remember George Luke and Ron Greener who had also played for Newcastle, Derek Weddle from Sunderland and Joe Raymant from Middlesbrough.

In October 1961, it was announced, rather belatedly, that Newcastle's manager during our relegation year, Charlie Mitten, had been sacked. Charlie was always a gambler and, rather appropriately, later in his career went on to manage White City Greyhound Stadium in Manchester. He was temporarily replaced by Norman Smith, the Magpies long serving trainer. The following year Joe Harvey, who coached me when I first joined the club, was appointed manager, a post he held for 13 years.

It took a while to get fit again for football and it was October before I played my first game for Darlington Reserves against Workington. We won 2-0 and I recall the game because of the generous write-up in the press. I went straight into the first team the following week, and found football in the third Division much slower and rougher, as compared to my days at Newcastle.

Playing left half for Darlington I caught the eye of visiting scouts from leading clubs, by accident, according to The Northern Sports Despatch. "Twice in the past month scouts have flocked to Feethams to run the rule over top scoring inside forwards playing against Darlington. Each time however, the players under inspection have been played out of the game by the ex-Newcastle wing half - the paper read.

Back to cricket in April 1962, I had a poor start to the season and Mick Allen was quick to jump in and take the left-hand spinner's spot.

County Cricket has many highs and lows. The highs come when your team wins and you are successful. The lows are experienced when you bowl all day and get hit all over the park, often without getting a wicket.

This happened to us at the Oval during the first day of a match against Surrey. On a true hard wicket with a firm outfield John Edrich, Peter May and others hit us all over the park. It was just after tea with the score something like 250 for 2 that our skipper gave the ball to Gordon Williamson and asked him "to keep it tight till the close of play." Gordon's face was a picture. He had bowled twenty overs without any success.

Gordon looked at me for sympathy and retorted in some choice shipyard rather than cricket field language. We both prayed for rain!

At times I was not averse to cocking a deaf ear, or trying to hide, when the skipper called me to bowl against, perhaps Rohan Kanhai or Garry Sobers etc when they are in full flow. I also felt sorry for the West Indian touring side in a similar position, with Colin Milburn batting when we played them at the County Ground. Colin was impossible to bowl against, smashing 100 in the first innings and 88 in the second, both in record quick time.

In 1962 an experiment by the four local counties in the Midlands was, unknowingly, to change the face of English cricket. Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire and ourselves competed in an informal knock-out competition with a maximum of 65 overs per side. In the first game we beat Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge and I took 5 wickets for 23 runs in my allocated 15 overs. Then in the final we beat Leicestershire with six overs to spare. So successful was the Midlands Knock Out Competition that the following year the limited overs Gillette Cup was born and the rest is history.

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