50 not out as Jeff clocks half century at Dundrum

50 not out as Jeff clocks half century at Dundrum

31 March 2021

JEFF Maguire’s love affair with cricket started 50 years ago.

The Dundrum Cricket Club stalwart says it’s a love story which ranks second only to that with his family.

Jeff says he is proud of the journey which has blessed him with friendships for life. These affinities were formed all across the globe, from as far away as India, Sri Lanka, Australia and across the island of Ireland.

“It’s hard to believe that I am 50 years going to the Meadow at Dundrum Cricket Club and I still get a buzz when going through the new gates,” says Jeff.

“I can still remember playing in the winning side in the Downshire Cup final at the best new ground in the Northern Cricket Union at Strangford Road in Downpatrick.”

Jeff’s Dundrum side defeated Downpatrick Cricket Club, with his brother Noel scoring 80 odd to defeat a strong home side that featured superb players, including Alfie Linehan, Noel Ferguson and Jim Patterson, who all played for Ireland, Alfie’s brother, Hugh, who Jeff believes should have been capped, and superb all rounder Brian Ferris.

Jeff reminisces fondly of that game. “I got to play in front of a decent crowd alongside two of the best club players our village ever produced, one being my brother Noel and the other being Alan Neill. I remember going to bed a little tipsy, the true version would not be believed long before the snowflake culture.”

Jeff proudly captained the first team for seven seasons, winning back-to-back McGready Cup finals at Dundrum after beating North West Cricket Union teams Bonds Glen and The Nedd.

“Both games had a fantastic atmosphere. They brought a full 52 seater bus packed with refreshments and both teams stayed long into the night at the Bay Inn as they enjoyed the village hospitality.”

However, there were hard times for Dundrum as Jeff recalls a second arson attack against the club 30 years ago.

“It simply showed the fighting character of the committee and members. I wrote lots of begging letters and phone calls for help,” he recalled.

“I got a massive shock when I received a cheque made out to myself for £15,000 from the Foundation of Sports and Arts. I give special thanks to former Australian player James Burston for his input.” 

The club received a further £10,000 from Down District Council and used local firm Seamus Walsh and Sons to build the excellent present pavilion at the cost of £30,000, signifying the start of rebuilding the club in every aspect.

Paying homage to the club’s ground staff who Jeff calls “the real stalwarts”, he gives praise to Tommy Curlett (82), who has looked after the square for over 55 years. Over the last decade, Tommy’s brother, Jack, has also been assisting, with Jeff mentioning Jack as “one of the club’s best ever all rounders”.

Jeff also applauded two more Curlett brothers, Bobby and Jim, who built the superb new electric score box free of charge.

Also earning praise is new treasurer Stephen Calvert, who Jeff describes as the “driving force behind the scenes, displaying fantastic forward thinking and planning everything down to the last detail”. 

He continued: “Stephen now prepares the wickets, and I have never seen a harder worker in my life. From clearing the banks to planting the hedges and securing grants, he is a very tight treasurer that all clubs need.”

Not only a celebrated player, it is clear that Jeff has became an influential figure at the Dundrum club.

Twelve years ago the club backed his request to employ the first of many successful overseas coaches, Sri Lankan Manoj Fernando. 

“It is the main reason the club is 

thriving,” he said. “The junior section has been very successful with six of the players now playing for the first team and many more playing for the seconds and thirds.

“The juniors have been on tour to Scotland three times, whilst also going to Telford. There is another good crop of kids coming through.”

Alongside his achievements on the field, Jeff nods kindly to the accolade he received in 2011 when he was presented with the Jim McMorran Waterford Crystal Bowl for voluntary services to cricket from the Northern Cricket Union.

“For my 60th birthday, I ran a fundraising soft ball fun match and barbecue, which raised £1,900 towards new set covers. I will remember as much due to the coverage legendary reporter David Holmes gave me on social media.”

All good things must come to an end as Jeff recalls two operations in 2019 which forced his thoughts on retirement.

Jeff decided to run a fundraiser inviting players from different clubs to attend. “As a thank you to a sport that has given me something that money could never buy, I ran two T20 games with refreshments and a raffle. I could not believe we raised £4,500 towards a new electric scorebox.

“It was a very emotional day for me as I wandered around the ground with my grandson James. I was amazed at the decent crowd as I bowled the first ball and walked off to enjoy the day. But deep down, it hurt that I could not play.”

Jeff will be holding his last ever fundraiser this July, with the money going towards new enclosed two bay practice nets. He is set to organise two T20 games with added barbecue and refreshments as a final swansong to his beloved cricket.

“The game of cricket has been a massive part of my life, 50 not out and burn the whites” declared Jeff.

He does, however, look eagerly ahead to the new season, which is planned to start the first week in May.

“It’s a testament to all the hard work at the club that it can now field three senior teams, with captain James Martin leading a very decent side for the new season. They can, no doubt, be very competitive.”

Looking to the future, he added: “The club is also excited about new coach Dan Kearsley, who begins his position after Easter and will be at Shimna Integrated College every Thursday.

“The club is committed to attracting new young boys and girls to the great game of cricket.”