Chesterfield Cricket Lovers' Society

The photo shows Neil Swanwick and Bill Athey

Photo courtesy of John Windle


Bill Athey provided the society with an evening of humour, insights into the characters he had encountered during his career, and this was done with a great deal of self- deprecation and modesty. The feedback from members indicated that Bill was one of the best speakers that had been to the society.

Very proud of his roots in Middlesborough and he remains an avid Middlesborough FC fan (he did manage to get away with this despite reminders from some members that a certain FA Cup semi-final still provides distress amongst Chesterfield FC supporters!). He was a very talented footballer and cricketer with apprenticeship forms being offered by both Middlesborough FC and Yorkshire CCC. It was to the great benefit of cricket that he chose to sign for Yorkshire.

Bill made his debut for Yorkshire at Northampton in May 1976 and was confronted by a formidable bowling attack consisting of Sarfraz Nawaz, Bob Cottam, John Dye, Bishan Bedi and Peter Willey – quite a line up! His career progressed quickly, and he was selected to make his debut for England in the Centenary Test at Lord's in 1980. Eight years later he appeared in the Bicentenary Test in Sydney, one of only three England players to feature in both games.

He talked about many highlights of his test career including facing a number of ferocious West Indies attacks and being the nearest player to the Mike Gatting and Shakoor Rana face off at Faisalabad in the infamous 1987 Pakistan test. His best test memory was being part of the 1986/87 squad to contest the Ashes series in Australia. One correspondent had commented on the squad ‘can’t bat, can’t bowl, can’t field’. They won the series 2-1.

After his initial spell at Yorkshire he left, for well documented reasons, and went to Gloucestershire which he found to be a quieter environment. With Gloucestershire he spent nine seasons rooming and travelling with Jack Russell, as a result of which he had many stories about Jack’s unique lifestyle – including his 25/30 cups of tea per day.

Bill is an affable and easy going individual who provided lots of anecdotes about his career which were thoroughly enjoyed by all attending the evening. It was generally thought that he was amongst the best speakers to recently visit the Society – with Bill’s humour, humility and honesty to the fore.

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