Geoffrey Clayton

Published: 2019
Pages: 24
Author: Lorimer, Malcolm (Editor)
Publisher: Max Books
Rating: 3.5 stars

Until last year I didn’t know a great deal about ‘Chimpy’ Clayton, beyond his having been Lancashire’s regular wicketkeeper through the early 1960s, before spending a couple of years with Somerset. In time I found out that he had left Lancashire after antagonising the county over his protest against Warwickshire’s tactics in a List A match in 1964. In those days a fielding side could put all nine fielders on the boundary, and when Warwickshire did so Clayton started blocking.

I eventually learned a great deal more about Clayton when I read Stephen Hill’s essay about him in Somerset Cricketers 1946-1970, and realised then that he was quite a character, and it is a bonus for all Lancastrians who haven’t invested in that book that Hill has agreed to his splendid pen portrait being reproduced in this Max Books booklet, the first in what promises to be a regular series entitled Lancashire Characters.

Clayton died in 2018, and the Reverend Lorimer conducted his funeral service and starts this collection of writings with a brief introduction. There follows a tribute from the Lancashire Vice-President and secretary of the county’s former players association, Keith Hayhurst. He is followed by two people who knew Clayton well, an extract from Colin Schindler’s biography of Bob Barber, and an essay from veteran local journalist Brian Bearshaw.

There are a number of photographs, and they are very well presented, which is just as well in as the case of a newspaper cutting containing an article in which Clayton himself reflected in 1967 on his feelings about a return to the Old Trafford ground. My eyesight is not perfect, but is by no means poor and I did struggle to read what are an interesting few paragraphs. I suspect there may be a few readers, perhaps those a little more aged than I, who will need to hunt around for a magnification aid in order to read that one.

The above is however a minor complaint, and does not in any way detract from my enjoyment of this delightful little pastiche, presented in the manner of the sort of scrapbook that the vast majority of those of my vintage will recall keeping as children. The Reverend Lorimer is to be congratulated on an excellent idea, and I hope this is a series that runs and runs.

In fact in order to assist the publisher I have turned my mind to the question of a few subjects for future volumes, and have whittled my initial list of 211 down to ten; Frank Parr, Peter Marner, Jack Dyson, Tommy Greenhough, Colin Stansfield Smith, Winston Place, Alan Wharton, Ken Shuttleworth, John Deighton and Alf Barlow. Marner first I think, and after that whatever order suits.

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