FORMER Friarmere player and respected local umpire Philip Batham, who has died aged 61, was described as somebody who lived for cricket.
Philip, remembered as an “absolutely brilliant fielder” and decent batsman, was instantly recognisable as he took his dog Meg to matches.
And when Meg died, Philip went to Friarmere after dark to secretly bury her at the ground so he could continue to be with her.
Though he was born and lived in Failsworth, his allegiances were at the Saddleworth club where he starred for about 30 years.
It was a huge commitment for somebody who did not drive at the time as Friarmere official Gary Kershaw recalled.
He said: “Philip would catch the 83 bus to Sholver alighting at the top of Ripponden Road.
“He would either walk to the ground, quite a distance, or give me a call to pick him up.”
Philip, who died of asbestos-related cancer only 31 days after his diagnosis, joined Friarmere in the late 1980s and remained until about 2005.
Gary recalled him scoring several notable 50s for the seconds, adding his prowess in the field often merited a first-team call-up.
Philip also embraced the club and went on many of their renowned cricket tours, mainly in England, though there was one to Barbados.
After retiring he was anxious not to be lost to the game so became an umpire in the Saddleworth League and later the Pennine League after its merger with the Central Lancashire League.
Philip later became club umpire for three years at Uppermill where he was one of the officials at Cec Wright’s final game aged 85, a second-team match against Springhead which attracted global media interest.
Uppermill official Jim Bradbury said: “When the Pennine League folded, I noticed Philip hadn’t transferred to the list of umpires for the Greater Manchester Cricket League.
“I chased him to be our club umpire which he did for three years. He was a quiet person but conscientious when officiating.”
Philip, who played football for Failsworth Youth Club in his youth, was a big Manchester City fan.
He also enjoyed walking and cycling and a great admirer of nature.
Philip worked latterly as a driver but had previously been in the care profession. He leaves his father Arthur, brother Steven and sister Sue.
A JustGiving page has been set up to buy a bench which will be placed on the boundary edge at Friarmere in permanent memory of a loyal club member.
You can contribute at www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/gary-kershaw-2