Yorkhull CC

ROBERT WOODFORD was born in Birmingham on the 13th of December 1952 in a small rundown terrace in an inner-city slum. The family could not afford a middle name. Not for him the public school playing fields but the backyard and stumps drawn on the wall. With a stick in his hand he developed his technique. Forced to play the rule of 'six and out' this helped fashion his classical technique of playing along the ground! One of five brothers, Robert, a bespectacled and frail youth, tried many sports excelling in the rough-and-tumble of chess. A child prodigy, under 14 champion of Great Britain and conqueror of Tony Miles at that age, cricket was far from his mind or ability! 
Highfield Road Primary school was followed by Central Grammar, Birmingham where his cricketing career began, haltingly, as a wicket-keeper. Unable to make the grade in that department he turned to terrorising the under 13s as a fast bowler (he was in the upper sixth of the time). At 13 he played for his school first team and went on to play for Birmingham Grammar schools his only representative honour. Before going to university he played Parks Cricket that well-known breeding ground for the game. EW Swanton once remarked 'Parks Cricket is to test cricket what George Bright is to marathon running'.
 Arriving at university Rob struggled to make the grade even if the first-team pitch looked like his own back yard. He reacted defensively and rarely played in those early years. 'Having a go' in his fourth-year he went on a short tour to Cambridge University. This proved to be the big break of his career. Well-established as a slow medium straight bowler, the skipper had spotted batting talent. Promoting him from eleven to one (primarily because no one wanted to bat in the rain whereas Rob came from Parks cricket where they always batted in the rain) he utilised the Sicilian defence and produced a dour but significant 50. His batting has never looked back. He became a key all-rounder in the UAU campaign and did well until the semi-final where his early fallibility cost him his wicket.
 During those early years Rob was a good all-round sportsman playing rugby, football and cricket. A teaching appointment taking him to Bristol. Here he returned to Parks cricket where he was nursed along for three years by that charismatic and dynamic skipper, Pete Davis. St Michael's have fielded a number of Yorkhull players over the years although none were ever sure of selection until five minutes after the start. Here Rob achieved his best ever bowling 8.7.1 .0 - wickets have never been easy.
 Coming up north in 1979 his former University mentor got him a game for Tickhill Seconds where a 50 saw him into the First team (the same time as his mentor was getting 50 batting three for the First team). Lots of runs and a few wickets, including two hat tricks saw him as an ever present until retirement. One of most notable features of Robs cricket has been a marked deterioration in his out-cricket. When young he was a superb cover point swooping to stop many a fierce drive. But in the latter years he moved to slip. However his fallibility has questioned the wisdom of this decision. Maybe the effects of gastroenteritis, bruised fingers, a cartilage operation and an enormous bank balance have begun to take their toil. His mentor had introduced him to the northern version of Parks cricket, Evening League cricket. Selected to play for South Yorkshire Probation, Rob returned to familiar surroundings. At his best on the rough terrain of Wombwell Working Men's club and Cortonwood Miner's Welfare, the final swan songs of his career were played out in the anonymity of his early cricketing career. Rob had truly returned home.
 On 4 August 1985 and on Netherfield's 3rd team pitch, Rob reached a high point in his career. He hit his first ever six in a competitive game. Rob has since gone on to hit three more sixes on tour with this new found belligerence. Throughout the 19 years Rob was a vital member of the Yorkhull squad. His steady batting, including a superb century at Bridgewater and his hours of toil as our opening bowler has served as well. His willingness to offer advice makes him truly a good servant of Yorkhull. In many ways Rob was one of the most sceptical people about the tour ever getting going or its continuation. With his own efforts at getting fixtures and discovering Pete Davies this had helped in its survival. In our retirement phase Rob has continued to thrill the team with his obsessions be they cycling, rugby league, wine, opera, technological ludditism or wheelie bins. He remains truly a nineteenth century throwback. Eschewing the use of modern technology, though ironically never refusing the information of the latest test score, or Wiggins position in the Tour de France, emanating from his mentors laptop, Rob remains a true Yorkhullian. His most recent contribution to the Yorkhull folklore was on a recent return to York when he was seeking the smallest pub room in York. So, naturally. he approached a completely different pub altogether and entered the building. Not content with the sense that the place was not yet open he continued to search for this mythical small room, he opened another door and simply walked forward, crashing down the unnoticed open cellar door and landing eight foot down with a bump. Undeterred he looked up at the two surprised cellar workers and said, 'i'll have a pint and a packet of crisps, please' before collapsing in agony. Had this happened just a few years earlier the team could have lost his strike bowler. The ankle injury would have reduced his speed still further! He lives on to tell the tale, again, and again and again!