Cricket lover Sir Murrough Wilson lives on through the Cliffe Cup
MURROUGH Wilson began working life as a railway apprentice, shovelling coal, in late Victorian days. He became a director and then chairman of the LNER, served as a wartime lieutenant colonel in the West Yorkshire Regiment, became Unionist MP for Richmond from 1918-29 and was knighted. One of the streamlined class A4 steam locomotives, 60002, was named in his honour and shedded for much of its working life at Gateshead.
Sir Murrough was also a cricket enthusiast and player and in 1922 gave a magnificent silver trophy to be contested by local teams embracing the “ethos and spirit” of the village game.
A village hall reception at Manfield marked the competition’s centenary, the trophy – the hallmark of the man – taking centre stage. Richard Wilson, Sir Murrough’s grandson, provided the beer.
The Wilson family have occupied Cliffe Hall and its estate, a few miles west of Darlington and just south of the Tees, since 1825. The George Hotel, said to have been the home in 1875 of the grandfather’s clock that stopped short never to go again, is also in the parish and reopens soon.
Adjacent to the hall and owned by the family, Cliffe’s delightful cricket ground has been played on for well over a century. “It’s virtually your back garden” cricket club secretary Richard Mallender tells Richard Wilson.
“It’s kept a lot better than my back garden” says Richard.
Originally the Sir Murrough Wilson, now just the Cliffe Cup, it’s been won 12 times by Barton, nine times by Cockerton and by Rockliffe Park but just four by Cliffe, their last victory in 1939. “There’d have been more but the war came along” says Richard Wilson.
Football or cricket, these grass roots competitions embrace both sporting and social history and no matter that the participants – sometimes even the organisers – know nothing of the the person after whom the trophy is named.
Whoever it was who supposed that all that glisters is not gold might also have said the same of today’s silverware, though EPNS probably hadn’t been wrought in Shakespeare’s day.
The evening’s event was convivial, Richard Wilson given engraved whisky tumblers in return. 60002, alas, went to the 1960s scrapyard but in the ethos and spirit of real village cricket, Sir Murrough Wilson lives on.
Read award-winning journalist Mike Amos’ daily blog Grass Roots at www. mikeamosblog.wordpress. com. Mr Amos’ autobiography Unconsidered Trifles is available to order from the blog or at the Teesdale Mercury shop.