Accrington Cricket Club

Lenny the Legend Retires (Finally)

Thursday April 26th 2012

Lenny in retirement
The legendary Lenny Dewhurst has finally called it a day after playing for Accrington for five decades.

A shoulder injury sustained in this season's opening second team game at East Lancs has finally convinced Lenny that now is the time to retire.

It was at Baxenden in a 12 a-side friendly on May 2nd 1976 that Lenny made his debut for Accrington's latest senior side, the 4th XI alongside his long time colleague and current Lancashire League Secretary Duncan Warburton, myself, Nigel Goldsborough, Andy McCredie, Pete Clark, Graham Smith, Andy Stevenson, Steve Sipocz, Brian Mason, Andre Pilkington, and Geoff Warburton.

In those days Lenny was a solid left handed opening batsman with a classic cover drive and an erratic pacey net bowler.

Lenny's Dad Lindon, his brother Lindon and Uncle Roy all played for Accrington first team. One of Lenny's proud boasts is that he and his father both opened both the batting and bowling for the first team.

He quickly graduated to the 3rd XI and under the captaincy of Alven Burrows he was a member of the Ashwell Trophy winning side twice. After a spell at university, Lenny returned to play in the thirds in the 1980s.

He made his 2nd XI debut in 1985 and went on to become captain from 1999-2003 and from 2007 until 2011, leading the side to success in the Junior Cup Final against Church in 2000.

At the age of 33, Lenny finally made his first team debut in 1994. The following season in only his third Lancashire League game, he took a hat-trick at Nelson, including the great Joe Scuderi amongst victims as he grabbed a career best 5-93. This performance secured a regular first team spot until the end of the following season.

In all matches Lenny took 622 league wickets, including 432 for the seconds, a total bettered only by Duncan Warburton. He also scored 1508 runs, but surprisingly never made a half century for the club. His best performance came in the same game at Rishton in 2002 when he scored 47 and took 8-33.

Lenny said: "What a great community the Lancashire League is. It's been a privilege to play with and against some great adversaries and friends  such as Mike Ingham, Terry Lord, Ian Birtwistle, Frank Entwistle, Vinny Hanson, Mark Clayton, Paul Kelly, Paul Barratt ,  Scott Greaves, Nasser Hussain, Mas Ahmed, Russ Whalley, Neil Holmes, Martin Whittle to mention just a few. A special mention to the Bacup, Burnley and Colne lads, we always had an entertaining end of game drink or night.

"It was fun educating the likes of Robert Haynes, Funky Miller and Tama Canning in the art of drinking. Great  memories of a section of supporters regularly chanting and showing banners  " get Lenny on ". One of the funniest memories is of a match against Rishton with Alan Donald as pro. Apparently the Rishton  lads had primed Alan regarding Martin Whittle's hooking ability. First ball to Martin straight in the helmet. Priceless  still got a video of it. The best thing to note Martin had never hooked anyone  in his life ha ha. Going forward I will be joining the umpiring ranks to give something back to the best league in the world."

Duncan Warburton said: "Leonard has enjoyed a long and enjoyable period playing cricket. He has always tried to play the game “the right way“ and has a deep love of the game and its values. Hopefully he will not be lost from cricket as he has indicated that he will be joining the “white coat brigade“ and I feel sure that his vast experience within cricket will enable him to be successful and enjoy it at the same time."

Current Accrington captain Jimmy Hayhurst : "I would like to thank Len for his contributions to the club over the many years as a  player, captain, DJ and all round good ambassador for Accrington Cricket Club. Len is one of the most unique characters at the club and has an infectious personality. I hope he stays involved with the club and supports us for many years to come. "

Paul Barratt: "So Lenny the “Dip” becomes Lenny the “Leg-end”.

 "From what I can remember I first met Lenny back in the early 80’s at ACC, I already knew his father Lindon well and had an idea of the reputation behind Lenny and his older brother (Lindon junior) so I thought I knew to an extent what to expect from this bleached blonde ( he had some hair then) chirpy character. Now having known Lenny  for coming up for 30 years, it just goes to prove you should assume nothing and always take time to get to know people before you make a judgment on them,  Lenny is often misunderstood but there is no doubt he is a damn good bloke with a heart of gold.

"As a cricketer he was probably underrated, I suppose you could class his bowling as  “tweakers” , I say this as I don’t think he falls into a spinners category as Lenny’s deliveries don’t actually turn, however they were extremely difficult to get away as he darted his deliveries in at your toes and he was always good for keeping an end tight and building pressure on a batsman and  many quality batters ignored Lenny’s talent at their peril. I had the pleasure of witnessing and contributing to (via a catch at long on I think) his finest hour whilst playing for ACC when he took a “hat-trick” at Seedhill, the high pitch screams and celebrations that followed his third victim are still ringing in my ears and etched on my memory forever.

"His batting would be best described as solid, you would think someone of Lenny’s build (solid) would be looking to smash the ball out of the park, but no that’s not his style he is very technically correct, likes to work the ball around and has a really good defence; I would guess looking through his stats there would be a large number of not outs next to his name. On the downside I do have to add his running between the wickets is at best questionable and bordering on shocking, I unfortunately was on the receiving end of this a couple of times when we played together in the thirds, I remember one occasion when we were batting together I was just completing a third run when Lenny turned to complete his second and breathlessly said something along the lines of “No I can’t make it, you get back to the other end”, needless to say I never made it back,  I have forgiven you Len but not forgotten.

"Anyway Lenny, I wish you all the best in your well deserved retirement, you have been an excellent servant to the club in many ways and I’m sure your presence and experience on the field will be sadly missed. I hope you keep involved with ACC as the club needs good loyal people as yourself, so mate, put your feet up, relax and enjoy watching a bit of cricket with a nice cold lager (with extra lime) and some good mates to share your stories with."

Mark Croasdale: "Sorry to hear that Lenny has finally called it a day. I remember playing in the 2nd’s with him and he had the ability to arrive at an away ground and without the opposition knowing, wind them up whilst cajoling the umpires hopefully onto our side. He had the ability to turn matches but I think his best quality was the atmosphere he created in the dressing room, where matches could be lost or won just as easily as out on the field. Lenny was also very good at bringing on the youngsters who came into the team and blooding them for advancement. Thanks Lenny for allowing me to play for a few more years in a game I love. I am convinced you will make a good addition to the “white coat brigade”.

Frank Entwistle: "Truly sorry to hear Lenny has called it a day especially due to injury, I know how much work he put in over the winter to get into shape for 2012. I would like to reiterate other comments he always tried to play the game “the right way“ and has a deep love of the game and its values and is an all round good ambassador for Accrington Cricket Club. Hopefully some umpiring courses will do him some good he never did understand the LBW rule and simply reverted to appealing everytime the ball hit your pads.

"I have some great memories from the 80's and early 90's and loved playing Accrington just so that i could listen to Lenny chip away at batters invarably getting on their nerves and reaping rewards with his sliders. I look forward to seeing him soon and sharing some of these memories albeit his memory causes him some issues these days as he forgets the floggings his bowling took from me and merely recounts the 1 and only time I can recall he got me out (hit wicket) attempting to put him onto the railway line."

Andrew Spencer: "Have to agree with the above posts about Lenny’s attitude towards cricket. He played it the right way, competitive, with a will to win but also fair and with a smile on his face. One of my favourites memories was Lenny playing at Lanehead for the 1stXI. Dibbers was injured so he was brought in to bowl a few overs. It was a typical damp Bacup track and he would have been very effective with his medium twist off his long run! As we got towards our hitting overs Lenny was tactically moved to long on near the score box instead of being brought onto bowl. The bowler being some import from Darwen whose name I forget he was a poor man’s Terry Lord. As he bowled his filth the ball kept being smashed through long on. Lenny’s attempts to field the ball were a sight to behold as he kept running around the boundary doing his best impression of Lionel Messi trying to trap and kick every ball that come his way! Unbelievably this went on to the end of the innings and you could hear Lenny chuntering coming off the field “What am I playing for!” Anyway now he is off the field I’m presuming trips to Accy will now be even louder after Lenny has got a few Gin ‘n’ Tonics down his neck! Happy retirement mate."

Rob Airey: "And about time too! But hope you are going to be a regular feature on the terrace Lenny? Pint please. "

Neil Mortimer aka "Morty": "Lenny was a memorable opponent & his rallying cry to his troops of "Come on lads let's put the kettle on!" was certainly different, especially the way he shouted it! Best wishes for the umpiring. Can't understand why there was never a fifty as you faced Shokka lots of times?"

Lindsay Ormerod: "I've known The Prince for as long as I can remember and as a friend and a stalwart of the club he is second to none. A memory from long ago was me and the (now) ex husband in the Black Horse,Lenny charges towards me and grabs me in a big hug, never a man to shy away from public displays of affection! Shortly followed by extremely jealous and possessive ex husband gripping him round the neck and demanding to know what we were up to!  

"Far more recently Lenny has been in charge of looking after my daughter Kelsey whilst she is Second XI scorer, a fine job he did and to my knowledge he only forgot her twice! Len is a force of nature, you just have to go with it, I'm sort of glad he's retired because it means I don't have to massage his shoulders anymore before a game and it means we can share a cheeky pint or 8!

"Happy retirement Lenny, I'll see you in the bar!
(ps if you are going to umpire you might want to think about wearing both contact lenses at the same time...."

Dave Shorrock: "Shame to see the Legend that is Lenny calling time on a great career. It was always tremendous entertainment playing against you with your unique motivational hollering, "well bowled sunbeam" was a particular favourite. Copious amounts of beer and supping to excess was part of the deal, particularly post match, irrespective of result, on field arguments and brazen attempts (usually successful) to sweet talk umpires into upholding your lbws. Generous to a tee and the chance meeting at Wolverhampton races in 2001 will live long in the memory when myself, Wrighty and Mick Frazer were royally treated to 8 pints of Guinness and numerous single malts courtesy of you (or was ur company expenses). All the best mate, mine's a pint!"

Ellie Davey: "It was always good watching Uncle Lenny playing especially when he was batting. Im going to play like you and get not out but hopefully lots of runs. Good player best godfather ever."

Kim Sneddon: "I first met Leonard about 19 years ago when I was dragged down to the club to attend one of Jim McCormack's infamous quiz nights, my mum introduced me to Len and Bev with the immortal words "This is my eldest daughter Morticia" (I was going through a slightly dark somewhat gothic phase at the time)...........little did I know that those 6 words would spawn a friendship that has endured and is now one of the most important ones in my life!!

"I have way too many cricketing memories of Len to mention them all.........but a select few are when he was the manager of the Under 11's (that included future 1st XI players Snedds and Crabby) and he got told off for 'loud and excessive cheering', I know some of you will find it hard to believe that he could ever be loud and excessive but it's true!!  In the mid 90's when we'd often yell "Get Lenny on!" and the Captain at that point would shake his head in exasperation at us.......don't think he liked it much when we unrolled a banner one week saying the same thing!! When the 2nd XI won the Junior Cup in 2000 I was at Alicante airport waiting to come home.......yet still knew that we'd won, cost a fortune using the payphone that day but was worth it to hear the jubilation!!

"His many nicknames have been the source of great amusement over the years, from Pingu (because of his natural ability to waddle like a penguin when running) to The Fat Controller (which is a nickname no longer able to be used) to the Twisted Firestarter to the Poisoned Dwarf to Fatboy Won't Slim (again no longer applicable) to The Prince of Mince (my personal favourite and one that his wife Bev inspired by telling us about his amazing culinary prowess with mince)..............and his rants and combustions (and there have been some real classic ones) are legendary!!

"His stints behind the bar have brought great hilarity too......wev'e had a swimming gala behind the bar, prices have had to be written in extra large print and he's the only person I know that would pour a pint of lager and lime when asked for a pint of smooth "ooooops I'd better drink this then hee hee hee!!" recent years he's been our resident DJ, the Prince can spin the decks with the best of them and 20/20 nights at Thorneyholme Rd would not be the same without him!!

"On a personal level..........Len as a person is one of the best that I know and over the past 19 years our relationship has seen many tears and tantrums (mostly from Leonard) as well as some epic fallouts (or 'domestics' as they have been named by Dibber).....but there's also been a hell of a lot of laughter and drunkenness and stupidity (again mostly from Leonard) and support when things have been tough, he's enriched my life by introducing a monster and a devil into it (I had to give them a mention), managed to make a drinking game out of every little thing.....Pass the Pigs anyone????, he's a huge part of my family as he's THE GODFATHER and when all is said and done there is no-one else who I would rather have by my side than Len, he may have retired from cricket but he's stuck with me for many more years to come!!

"I'd better bring this essay to a close..........thank you Leonard for the laughs and the tears and the tantrums and the support and the everything, you are my Soulie and I have much love for ya'!!!

Andy Bentley (For and on behalf of all at Church CC) "Having played against and with former Accrington players, the recurring thread which seems to run through every tale or anecdote is Lenny. I remember losing the 2nd XI cup and being gutted but looking back I'm pleased that Lenny got the reward that his efforts deserved. A competitive cricketer, good company and a genuinely decent bloke, I look forward to having many a future beer with Lenny even if one ear is closed to his friendly baiting of my beloved Church!

"Well done on making such a difference Len. "

Nas & Saggi: "Wow! I can't possibly put into words what Lennie has put into the development of cricket up at Accrington CC. Would like to say a massive thank you to not only Lennie, but junior & senior Lindon for everything they've done as a family for Lancashire League Cricket. It's a bit of a shock because I never thought you would ever retire.

"Ps.. Just because you've retired I'm not chalking off all the drinks you owe me.. "

Scott Greaves: "Its about bloody time you hung your boots Lenny!! On a serious note, it was an absolute privilege to play this wonderful game with you when I was at Accrington; at that time the club was going through a transition and experiencing difficult times ( similar to RCC now ), however the players & committee and the whole set up in general at ACC was fantastic, all helped by your ability to bring people together.  You must take great pride in what you have achieved and been part of at ACC over those 5 decades.  I hope to see you soon mate and don't you bloody dare raise one of your six fingers to me if you ever join ranks of the white coat men!   Take care mate."

If you would like to send your own tribute to Lenny please follow this link

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