Worthy Causes Both

Published: 2016
Pages: 24
Author: Tebay, Martin
Publisher: Red Rose Books
Rating: 3.5 stars

Most, in fact possibly all, of Martin Tebay’s previous writings have been about Lancashire cricket, and to be fair the majority were doubtless aimed at the dyed in the wool enthusiast of the Red Rose. In many ways Worthy Causes Both is cut from the same cloth. The only difference is that on this occasion the story goes well beyond Lancashire cricket, and captures the spirit of the time in which it is set as well as telling the story of an interesting cricketer who would otherwise be forgotten.

The account begins with a charity match in September 1922 between a Bolton League XI and a strong Lancashire side raised by county skipper Myles Kenyon. The star of the day was the younger of the Roe Green Tyldesley’s, Ernest, destined to finish his career with more than 100 hundreds and a Test average of 55. Also playing was his (much) older brother and star of the Golden Age, John Tommy (JT). Sadly for the crowd on the day JT failed to roll back the years. There were also a pair of Westhoughton Tyldesleys on show, England leg spinner Richard and James (Jimmy), a pace bowling all-rounder who had a good case for arguing he should have gone to Australia in 1920/21.

The sad part of the story is that within six months of the match being played Jimmy Tyldesley was dead at just 33. He had not been himself during the preceding season and had been admitted to a private hospital for what, even in those days, should have been routine surgery for haemorrhoids. He did not survive the operation and the story of his unfortunate demise is told here for the first time. In 1923 a fund was established to help Jimmy’s wife and two young children. It raised a decent sum, the equivalent today of around £20,000, and there was another match in September between a Lancashire side and a Bolton League XI that contributed to that. There was no John Tommy then, and Ernest was committed elsewhere, but Jimmy’s brother Richard and plenty of other Lancashire first teamers turned out under the captaincy of double international Jack Sharp.

There are plenty of stories like that of Jimmy Tyldesley that those who take pleasure in the history of the game will encounter from time to time, usually in the form of a passage in another work or a collection of pen portraits which makes it clear that there is an interesting background story to be told, but which then fails to tell it. It is much appreciated therefore when men like Martin Tebay scour the national and local press and other primary sources in order to reconstruct these  portraits. No one who lets Worthy Causes Both escape their attention could be said to be missing a cricketing classic, but for those who enjoy such material it is a booklet well worth acquiring. It is published in a limited edition of 33 copies and is priced at a fraction less than £10 a copy, so the cost is not prohibitive.

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