Cricketing character Alan will never be forgotten

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A rare 1950s bubble gum card (from the excellent online company Collectabila) which shows so well our local England and Lancashire cricketer Alan Wharton.

Alan was a stylish hard-hitting left handed batsman and a medium pace right hand bowler, also having superb alacrity in the field.

His years with Lancashire were successful indeed, scoring 25 centuries from 1945 to 1959. He was also a very fine rugby league player with Salford.

Alan, whose father was Alderman Lawson Wharton MBE, JP, a notable Mayor of Colne for 1955/56, also had a cricketing brother, Colin, who had many fine matches for Colne Cricket Club.

After retiring from county cricket with Leicestershire, Alan joined Colne CC and in 1965 established a new amateur batting record of 721 runs, beating Herbert Crabtree’s record of 717 made in 1911.

Both Alan and Colin were academic with the two excellent sportsmen also being teachers at Primet Secondary Modern School.

I was most proud to have the two Whartons teach me during my Primet schooldays of 1954 to 1958. Both Alan and Colin taught me many valuable pointers during English lessons which were always most enjoyable.

Alan was known at school for his ferocious temper and when wielding his strap your hand stung for the rest of the day.

I can still recall an amazing incident that happened almost 60 years ago. Dateline: Spring, 1955 and in the Primet school assembly hall we are sat at our trestle tables enjoying our school dinners.

From the stage, looking down on us as we were tucking in are Mr Wharton, Mr Brindle and Mr Sharples.

Suddenly we hear a loud shout from the stage and all heads turn to see Alan Wharton launch himself from his seat and swoop a full 10ft from the stage with the grace of an Andean condor, landing slap bang on his quarry, our dinner monitor Bob Harrison.

A melee ensued with Alan breaking his wrist and Bob telling me recently from his home in Spain: “It was the most surreal experience of my whole life!”

Alan Wharton - a celebrated cricketer, Great Britain’s longest-ever serving magistrate and a wonderful character we’ll never forget.