as a football match becomes a game of Cricket for Norman Warwick (below)

I cannot honestly remember if the capital letters of R or L painted on the wellingtons that seemed to serve as football boots and dancing shoes were actually correctly placed on the Right and Left toecaps. I had seen the Rochdale-based comedian on tv, calling those wellingtons his disco shoes, and in his charming Irish accent then telling the viewers that he had painted on the R & L reminders that ´dis goes here and dis goes der´ and with that helpful device he was one of the best dancers in the world. He would then demonstrate his disco skills with a brief and rapid Irish tap dance that we would later see again in the Ronaldo shuffle down the wing for Manchester United.

Jimmy Cricket was wearing those wellies when he turned up to play in a charity football match at the Springfield Park Sports Complex in Rochdale back in the eighties, at the height of his fame. I, too had been invited to play in this match and found I was on the same side as Mr. Cricket. He was our captain and he led us out in front of a crowd of maybe 1,500 people.

Rubbish though I was at the game, I always took my football seriously during my career that spanned Manchester YMCA´s fifth team, Whalley Range in the fourth team and eventually playing in all four teams from A to D in various divisions of the Lancashire Amateur League with Walshaw. This wasn´t because I had improved as a player but I had joined the club committee, which meant that because I was also a registered player I could nominate myself as sub for whichever of our teams I was appointed to be watching at the weekend.

To be honest, I was an even worse secretary than I was a player, and even in this charity match I was the poorest player on the pitch,…well, apart from Jimmy maybe, who even in those wellies couldn´t shoot or pass and what with his hat and dinner jacket didn´t even look like a player. He did cause havoc as he also was a self appointed referee. I don´t remember him ever trying to dribble round a defender, but defenders made it easier for him by falling about laughing at his antics and his jokes, and his football and his refereeing.

Jimmy Cricket was, and still is, I am reliably informed, one of the nicest guys in the world and was often featured in my local Rochdale Observer twice weekly newspaper for which I co-wrote with Robin Parker and Steve Cooke a page we called all across the arts.

When I left Rochdale to retire to Lanzarote, Steve Cooke took over the reins and has done a great job, not only by continuing a page that assists in and reflects on the arts scene in Rochdale, a borough with several arts reveneu funded organisations of theatres, dance organisations, circus training classes, writing groups and poetry and choral ensembles. Sadly, though, like all local and regional papers The Rochdale Observer is seeming increasingly anachronistic in the days of talking on the internet and burgeoning and rampant social media. To counteract they have reduced the number of pages and a skeleton staff are becoming increasingly reliant on copy provided by local, unpaid contributors.

The final issue of the all across the arts page was presented only a month or so ago, but that is no reflection at all on how hard and diligently Steve Cooke had continued its traditions supporting the artists of community, who un turn supported aata´s efforts to raise the profile of the local, and wider arts scene. It became, and remains, a perfect synergy.

Steve has built a volunteer work force of the likes of poets Seamus Kelly and Eileen Earnshaw who each run creative writng groups, and others like Robin Parker who orgnaises and publicises poetry readings and slams.

So it was no surprise to learn this week that Steve Cooke has already stepped out and moved on in new directions to follow sidetracks and detours all across the arts.

It also reminded me that we also have crickets here on Lanzarote, don´t we? That sound that from just beyond my bedroom window is currently keeping me awake all night. Crickets might have inspired Buddy Holly, who named his group after the sound they could hear constantly in the studio the first time they made a recording, but for me the insects are less an inspiration and more of a sleep-deprivation. To be honest, though, they could just as likely be Rodney Crowell´s Cicadas, a group he named after that cricket-like insect

I received the followig note from Steve Cooke on 3rd May and it immediately reminded me the football match described earlier and at the same time that Rochdale remains a hot bed of the arts. It also reminded of what a good and really funny guy Jimmy Cricket is.

Memoirs of an Irish Comedian


review by Steve Cooke (right)

I recently had the honour of being asked to write the Forward to Jimmy Cricket’s autobiography.

“You are about to enter the world of the wonderful human being that is Mr James Mulgrew.

Hear about his childhood years growing up in Northern Ireland and his days spent in the holiday camps. The tough times touring the North of England club circuit as a stand-up comedian and his big break into television culminating in his own series for Central television in the eighties and his radio series in the nineties.

Join him, his family and those well-known and unknown to the wider world, on a journey that will fill your heart with joy and laughter and also tug at its strings.

Jimmy shows us what true celebrity can be as he provides a much-needed alternative to the meteoric rise and burn of our ‘look at me’ culture.

Memoirs of an Irish Comedian – The Jimmy Cricket Story is life affirming! After reading it I felt better about the world of showbiz and the world in general – ENJOY!’”

I truly believe that Jimmy should be celebrated far and wide. I cannot recommend this book highly enough!

Available from Amazon at £11.99 and worth every penny.

live the tradition of Variety and providing joyous family fun.

Steve Cooke of  AATA celebrates the creative community and promotes creativity, seeking to build individual and community well-being and resilience.

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