Pair bowled over by cricket reunion

REUNITED ... Don Bell and Bob Owen.
REUNITED ... Don Bell and Bob Owen.

SIXTY one years and not out! And thanks, in no small part, to Cookson Country which helped establish a link for former South Shields man Bob Owen, now in Huddersfield, with his old pal Donald Bell, with whom he played on Reyrolle’s under-18 cricket team in 1953.

The two hadn’t seen each other since, but recently they met up for the first time in more than six decades, along with Don’s wife, Audrey, who also worked at Reyrolle’s.

Don now lives in South Wales and the reunion took place at the Little Haven Hotel.

Also present was Jack Chapman, another member of the 1953 side.

Says Bob: “The combined ages of the group approached 320 years. Reminiscing went on for hours!”

Don was a technical apprentice at the switchgear works at Hebburn, from 1952-1957. Later, as a university lecturer, he travelled widely, advising on the establishment of engineering departments at universities abroad.

Bob worked as a craft apprentice at Reyrolle’s from 1951-1956 and after varied experiences spent 27 years as a lecturer in further education.

By contrast. Jack was a Hebburn lad but non-Reyrolle. He trained as a teacher and finished his career as head of English at Hedworthfield School.

The fourth member of the reunion group was Audrey, who trained as a tracer at Reyrolle’s and went on to become an architectural draughtswoman.

After his cricketing experience with Reyrolle’s juniors, Don played briefly for South Shields and Whitburn, before leaving the area.

Jack played for several senior local clubs for nearly 50 years. He also held many administrative league posts and wrote cricket books about the area, before being honoured with life membership of Durham County Cricket Club.

In contrast, Bob found his level with Reyrolle 2nd XI before retiring! Another member of the 1953 cricket team was Brian Smedley of South Shields but Brian was sadly was prevented from attending the reunion by illness.