Statistics, scorebooks and generosity

In memory of Bruce Morley

Bruce in the scorebox — his second home!

Finding a new cricket club is never easy, but Bruce made it easy.

From my first tentative email to the club, asking for information, he filled my inbox with all the information anyone would ever need. Whatever the question, however small or seemingly insignificant, Bruce happily responded, pointing me in the right direction.

Bruce was the first person I met at Weoley Hill Cricket Club. In April 2015 the weather was typical for the time of year, breezy with showers sweeping across the ground. I hadn’t taken in the ground before, but I appreciated its tranquil beauty, nestled into the southern Birmingham suburbs. Being a timid, nervous and quiet person, it took some time before I walked into the club, asking for Bruce.

But I need not have worried.

He immediately put me at ease. We chatted for ages, me telling him my background and history with cricket and Bruce sharing what the club was all about. I walked away, buoyed and optimistic. Having someone like Bruce to welcome new members makes such a difference to any sporting club. He had a way of putting you at ease and treating you like an equal. I always felt that every time we worked together on club related business over the next six years.

Statistics and scorebooks.

These, other than his sons Andy and Gerard, were Bruce’s cricket lifeblood.

To watch him score, see his final completed scorebooks, was to see an artist at work. He took pride in his scoring, and you could see that pride in the colours, ball by ball scoring and meticulously curated scorecard for each match. The book of statistics he kept detailed every record imaginable in it. If you wanted to know any record at the club, he could find it. I hoped to make it to the record books myself, I still do.

Sadly he will never see it.

He would though, without fail, offer words of encouragement or a gentle humourous jibe regarding my performances, whatever they might have been that weekend. He somehow always knew when he could poke fun, and when a positive word or two would be better.

Bruce wasn’t just a statistician, scorer and committee member, he worked tirelessly on the ground for many years, preparing the outfield and wickets on a week by week basis. Often I’d arrive at the ground to see Bruce on the roller, making last-minute preparations to the wicket. It was a labour of love, and he was always sharing tips, hints and thoughts on the ground. Without his work, many games would never have happened. That knowledge cannot easily be replaced, that experience is priceless.

In the last couple of years, I’d often travel with Bruce to league meetings. I quickly learnt that he could talk for England when it came to the batting accomplishments of his sons.

It gave him so much pleasure to see them do well. Both Andy and Gerard, despite their different batting styles (as Bruce often explained to me!), have outstanding records for the club. Bruce was always there if they were playing.

I’m not great at saying goodbye, sometimes preferring to slip away quietly from the crowd. Bruce though wouldn’t let me go without a final word, often a job to do, perhaps something to add to the club website. Sometimes a last quick pint before heading home. I appreciated this.

He was always generous with his time.

No matter how I was feeling when down at the club, sometimes out on a limb or quiet in the corner, Bruce was always happy to talk.

His inclusive and open approach was something I valued immensely, and I know others did too. The whole club will miss him in season 2021, and beyond. We have big shoes to fill.

Rest In Peace, Bruce. Weoley Hill Cricket Club owes much to you; hopefully, all at the club can make you proud in 2021. I expect you will be keeping an eye on proceedings from above.

Reflections on LGBTQ+ life and experiences playing club cricket in England — the only Aussie + gay cricketer at the club! Contact: lachlantsmith@gmail.com