‘Old cricketer leaves the crease’ Former Lancashire star is mourned

NEARLY 200 mourners attended the funeral service of former Lancashire and Somerset cricketer Geoff Clayton.

Close friend and West Indian bowling legend Sonny Ramadhin, now 89, also attended at St Thomas’s Church in Saddleworth to pay his last respects to the one-time wicketkeeper batsman.

Geoff, who was born in Mossley, died at the age of 80 last month.

Following the church remembrance, a final service took place at Oldham Crematorium.

Rev Malcolm Lorimer, Lancashire CCC’s chaplain, led the service.

“Geoff had a quiet demeanour some might class as unsociable,” said Rev Lorimer.

“He would sit in the quietest corner of the pub but somehow people were attracted to him.

“He had a way with him that made people want to do things for him.

“Bus drivers would drop Geoff outside a pub and not the bus stop.

“People would buy him drinks and ladies would cook meals for him.

“He was cared for by so many people and will be greatly missed by so many people as well.

“Fellow pros valued his wicketkeeping skills and admired the way he was resolute as a batsman when he needed to dig his side out of a hole.

“He also had an unusual gait that earned him the nickname of ‘chimp’ – a moniker his friends still used.

“Geoff showed many great human characteristics during his life.

“But he remained his own man, unmoved about what anyone else might think of him. How many others have the courage to do that?

Geoff made his first-class debut in 1957 playing for the Combined Services against Worcestershire, making his first appearance for the Red Rose county in 1959.

A right-handed batsman and excellent wicketkeeper, he was awarded his county cap in 1960.

He wasn’t retained by the Old Trafford club after the 1964 campaign and joined Somerset with whom he was also awarded a county cap in 1965.

In just his fourth match he compiled a maiden century as night watchman against Middlesex.

His innings of 106 was the highest score of his decade long first-class career.

The following season Geoff claimed 84 victims to become the leading wicketkeeper in the English game.

He also appeared in the 1967 Gillette Cup final at Lords against a Kent side featuring cricket legend, Colin Cowdrey, future England skipper Mike Denness and other internationals Alan Knott, Brian Luckhurst and Derek Underwood.

Kent won by 32 runs with Geoff making just eight before being dismissed by Underwood.

A few weeks later he played his final game for Somerset and didn’t appear in the first-class arena again having scored 6,154 runs in 274 matches.

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