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One Shot More...Part 22
Sunday 28th June 2020
Pictured: Walter Wishart
Legend - Walter Wishart
The name of Walter Wishart first appeared in North Down scorebooks as long ago as the mid-Forties and was still around in the mid-Eighties. Rarely was it seen outside the 1st XI until he stepped down voluntarily in 1979 to captain the 2nd XI. It speaks volumes for both the ability and the loyalty of a player who has given a lifetime to our club and won the respect of visiting teams for almost 40 years.
In the Forties, Fifties and early Sixties the fortunes of North Down were at a low ebb. Playing strengths were far removed from the halcyon pre-war days and the facilities were far removed from those of today. Players like Raymond Crosby, Willie Dempster, Bobby Todd and Walter Wishart emerged to carry the club through this difficult period, and much is owed to them. It was one of Walter’s hallmarks that he was up for any challenge, fortified by a seemingly endless stamina. He was one of those athletes who was naturally fit and he became a mainstay in both hockey and cricket post-war teams at The Green. Walter performed long and arduous bowling heroics that became characteristic of his playing career. He was the most economic of bowlers both in terms of runs conceded and the energy he exerted. Like a true thoroughbred he was tailor-made to stay the distance, so it was a bitter blow in 1953 when he departed to Kenya and later to Uganda to work at the construction of diesel powered stations at the massive Owen Falls Dam. Thankfully, he returned in 1956.
In his early career Walter was an opening batsman, but he later developed into a bowler of even greater ability. He always made the best use of a helpful wicket but perhaps his biggest asset was his ability to set a field that he could bowl to. He had few equals when it came to the placement of his fielders, as the Milford batsmen could testify on one very special occasion when Walter took seven wickets for only nine runs.
Last lap around Ormeau
Although quiet and unassuming, Walter was far from casual. He was a fierce competitor on the field, and he gave no quarter nor expected any. He hid his feelings well but when the situation demanded he wasn’t afraid to air his views. He did a good job when captain of the 2nd XI and skilfully managed the capabilities of a young side.
Honours bestowed by Sir Everton Weekes and Paul Allott at the Gala Dinner 2007
He was over 50 when he made his last appearance against Waringstown II and the North Down victory was a fitting tribute from his fellow players. His ‘retirement’ at the end of the 1980 season was recognized at the Club’s Annual Dinner when Ian Shields delivered a glowing tribute and Jack Newel, the president of the NCU, made a presentation on behalf of the Club. It should have marked a well-earned finale to a long playing career, but Walter was always a sucker for another game and over the next few years he was occasionally throwing over the arm for the 1st XI. On 9th September, 1984 against Lisburn he took his last senior wicket, a catch from Graham Benson sending the great Dermott Monteith back to the pavilion. It was a treasured wicket to remove the Ireland captain and a poignant moment for Dermott who was injured in an accident that winter and never played senior cricket again. Walter had finally gone out on a high after an amazing 40 years playing senior cricket.
But, as so often happens when one door closes another door opens, and while Walter Wishart could have been excused for stepping into the background this was not the case.
Walter then launched himself into a second North Down ‘career’ and over the next 20 years he donned many roles including groundsman, bar convener, and club president.
In 2007, by his own admission, the legs have all but seized, but given the passage of time they have carried this doughty little fighter through adversity and we expect to see him around The Green for many years to come.
Legend - Jim Barry
Born before the Great War, Jim Barry’s life spanned over 90 years during which he served North Down manfully for over 70 of them. He donned many roles not least as club chairman from 1966 to 1979 during the challenging transition years. He followed in the footsteps of Willie Andrews and James Macdonald as a committed administrator with both club and union, although at times he could be brusque and abrasive. But behind his stoic exterior was a heart of gold and, like a good wine, Jim mellowed in later years and became a much loved and highly respected member. He played at every level for the club from boys to 1st XI, but his best years as a cricketer were as the 2nd XI wicketkeeper where he was never afraid to sound off when returns from the outfield failed to match his expectations. The younger members affectionately nicknamed him “Wasim Bari” after the legendary Pakistan test star, but typically Jim took it all in his stride. He was a tireless worker within the club during the tough post-war era and also joined his lifelong friend George Orr of YMCA to serve on the NCU Junior Committee. He was chairman of that committee in 1975 when it was amalgamated with the senior committee and then served for almost 20 years as a divisional chairman. He was also an Ulster Town selector for many years.
Like his mentor, Mr Willie, he was a staunch North Down man within the union and never afraid to wear both hats if the situation demanded. He turned down the presidency of the NCU several times but was later deservedly awarded an Honorary Life Membership in recognition of his long service.
Jim in debate with Alan Foley and Scorer John Patton
Jim’s official positions within the club included the presidency and, in later years, patron, but he never forgot his roots and was just as happy marking the wicket or serving tea from the huge teapot with his white apron around his waist. His wife Sally was totally supportive within the Ladies Committee and a willing chauffeur picking him up when “meetings” in the clubhouse lasted longer than expected!
Proud moment at Ormeau with the Senior Challenge Cup
He umpired for some time and was a popular President of the Northern Ireland Association of Cricket Umpires and Scorers (NIACUS), for over 20 years. He always ensured every umpire was well treated at The Green and loved nothing better than to enjoy a few drams with them after the match. In a similar vein he was a member of the North Down “Thursday Club” of Eddie Doherty, Sammy Haire and himself, who, after working diligently on the ground, appeared to sort out all the problems in the North Down world over a few tots in the bar!
If Jim was a modest cricketer then the same could not be said for his hockey prowess. He played in the best ever North Down hockey teams of the Thirties, teams that won the Ulster Senior League, Kirk Cup and contested the Irish Senior Cup final. He was also a hockey umpire and in 1978 became president of the Ulster Branch.
In the twilight of life, Jim and George Orr travelled together to many North Down games home and away, and they were engaging conversationalists to anyone walking the boundary. He revelled in North Down’s success in the modern era and as club President took immense pride in the club’s achievements at every level. One of our last photographs of him was in the middle of the 1st XI champagne celebrations after the 2003 Challenge Cup final victory over Waringstown. He loved every minute of it.
We didn’t know at the time but it was to be his last North Down celebration, as he declined in health during the winter and, although he put up a brave fight, he passed away.
Jim “Wasim Bari” was a gentleman at heart and gave trojan service to North Down.
Jim was fittingly invited by David Kennedy to join the team celebrations at Stormont in 2003 - his last final
A Whole New World
At the end of the 1969 season it was 30 years since North Down had contested a Challenge Cup final and the fortunes of the club during that period were far removed from the golden years of the 1930s. The war years decimated the club in so many ways, and while many of the ‘old hands’ did their best to keep the club afloat, the mantle was handed down to a different generation in the 1950s and 1960s.
The Swinging Sixties were a whole new world and for North Down it marked the end of another era when, on 22nd December, 1966, Mr. Willie Andrews passed to a greater calling. His life was a magnificent innings full of so many cameos and riddled with so many eccentricities. North Down would never be the same again and, as Jim Barry took over the challenging role of chairman, he knew that change was already in the air.
North Down hadn’t got their act totally together at the end of 1969 but there were many positive things happening at The Green and a new generation was coming into the club that would eventually lay the foundations of better things to come.
The club was on the way up again.« Back