top of page

Don Butterfield remembered

As we approach the first game of the season, Baildon CC would like to invite you all to take a minute to remember one of our most loved players and administrators who sadly declared his innings at 75 during the winter. Don passed away on January 7th, surrounded by his family after a short illness had seen him rushed into the BRI.

If the weather allows it, we will be inviting Don's wife Winifred along with her family to come along before the start of the 3rd team home game and unveil two new benches that were purchased with the money raised at Don's funeral. The money raised also funded two new sets of specially designed match stumps which will be used for the first time this weekend.

Hopefully we will unveil the benches at about 1:15pm at Sandal School before the 3rd team match against Shipley Prov' begins at 1:30pm.

All our juniors begin their senior career at Baildon by playing in our third and fourth team (at our second ground at Sandals). As a club we have been trying very hard over the last few years to restore the facility to how it was under the days of Don's stewardship. The benches will hopefully take us one step further along that journey.

Local sports reporter and a good friend of Don, Bill Marshall, attended the funeral back in February this year and for those that weren't able to attend, he has produced an article looking back on the eulogy given by Don's son James...

DON Butterfield wasn’t born in Baildon – or even Birstall, Batley or Blubberhouses.

Surprisingly, the detective sergeant, ace gardener, keen cricketer and general good egg was born in Barnet, north London.

“He only lived there for a short while,” explained his son James at the celebration of his dad’s life at Baildon Cricket Club.

James also spoke of his memories of his dad, who died aged 75 on January 7, at the service at Nab Wood Crematorium on January 30 – a service conducted by Rev Alistair Newton and relaid by public address system to the many outside who could not fit inside.

What came across as clear as day was a man who would always show more interest in family, friends and acquaintances than he ever did about himself.

James said: “He always made time for everyone and always ensured you left his presence feeling better about yourself, such was his gift for understanding people.

“It was this gift that made him an excellent policeman, but also a highly accomplished sportsman across many different disciplines.

“As a batter he could work out bowlers, read their plan ahead of them and accumulate runs with trademark ease – apart from the occasional angry swipe if a bowler had the temerity to fling a bouncer down at him!”

Anyway, back to Barnet.

James revealed: “I think it’s time that I made a confession. Our proud, rock-hard Yorkshireman was actually born in Barnet.

“He was born on July 26, 1947, the youngest son of Beatrice and Harry, brother to Cynthia and Harry (there are a lot of Harrys in our family).

“The Butterfields then moved up to Giggleswick, a pretty village just outside Settle in the North Yorkshire countryside.

“Dad was a day boarder at the prestigious Giggleswick School, where, to be honest, his academic skills took their time to flourish. He eventually left with a C in art, very neat handwriting and a reputation as the hardest kid in school.”

Then came the decision about what to do for a permanent job.

James explained: “Grandad then helped him get a job in a mortuary at a hospital in Skipton. This pretty grim experience, combined with seeing how much his elder brother Harry was enjoying the police force, very quickly helped him to form his career path.

“At the same time he met a young bank clerk from Burley at the Stoney Lee nightclub in Ilkley. Romance blossomed and my mum and dad married in 1969, followed by the glamour of a honeymooners’ tour of the Lake District in a mini-van.

“They then set up home in a police house in Wrose, where, as a young bobby, my dad would walk up and down Carr Lane three or four times every day – well that was what he used to tell me every time we drove up it!”

James added: “Knowing that a police house was no place to raise a family they then moved across the valley to 17 Hazelheads – a house so perfect for them they spent the rest of their marriage of 53 years there.

“My sister Katy entered their lives in 1973 (yes that’s right she does turn 50 this year!) and then, five years later. I turned up.

“Dad’s police career was moving at pace now and in the 1980s he served on Bradford Police’s equivalent of the Sweeney – the burglary squad.

“I’m not sure that it was all Capris and guns though – especially as it was also the time that dad decided to buy an orange Skoda, much to the horror of Katy, who had to be dropped off at school in it!

“Bradford’s burglary squad then led onto dad becoming a Detective Sergeant in the Keighley CID. Climbing the ladder of paperwork and bureaucracy was of no interest to him. He didn’t want to leave behind the day-to-day pursuit of people who had broken the law.

“It wasn’t an easy job, requiring long hours and plenty of packets of cigarettes. Katy always knew when he was home safe from a shift when the heady aroma of the chip pan started to drift upstairs. Those chip butties, shared from dad’s plate, were the ultimate late-night treat!”

Police duty was all-encompassing.

James explained: “Dad was a police officer 24-7 so was never truly off duty – much to the cringing embarrassment of the rest of his family.

“On a trip to Morecambe we walked past an arcade just as a group of lads were rocking one of those penny-shove machines attempting to relieve it of its contents (about £2 at least!).

“So, of course, dad had to step in, bellowing ‘Police’ as he chased after them, sticking his foot out and tripping up one of the boys.

“The poor lad fell, suffering a bad cut to his knee. As he limped away I learned a number of swear words I had never heard before.

“This was not an outlier. Driving through the village one day a local idiot decided to throw a can at our car.

“Dad instantly pulled over, chased the kid down and then marched him over to the old police office at the back of the Ian Clough Hall, which was, as ever, empty, leaving dad in the awkward position of having to work out what to do next!

“Dad served 30 years in the police force and was able to retire in 1995 (aged 48, just three years older than me now!).

“This then began his new career – as a professional grandad/gardener/cricket groundsman and junior cricket coach. I think mum actually saw more of him when he was a policeman!

“The discipline drilled into him through his time in the force meant that dad was always active in whatever he did – he didn’t factor in much time for resting and relaxing.”

James remembered: “At the beach in Whitby if he wasn’t building the biggest sandcastles (using his trademark snow shovel) he was in the sea dragging us along in a dinghy.

“Speaking to my mum and sister, we all agreed that some of our favourite memories as a family come from our annual Whitby holiday. It was always sunny, we spent every day on the beach, and playing crazy golf on the Arnold Palmer course was a serious event.

“Apart from Baildon, Whitby is the place that I will most associate with dad, and somewhere I know I will always feel his presence.

“It’s become a special location for our wider family, thanks to my parents and their caravan at High Hawsker – we’ve enjoyed so much of our leisure time there over the years.

“Amy, Harry, Joe, Sam and Jessica have all grown up as we did, craving the sea air and decent fish and chips.”

Don was also influential in enlightening Katy and James about British sitcoms and classic war films and westerns.

James takes up the story: “When he wasn’t working in the garden, dad took great pleasure in educating Katy and I about his favourite TV shows and films.

“As a result we both share his addiction to British sitcoms of the 60s and 70s, such as Hancock’s Half Hour, Fawlty Towers (Flowery Twats anyone?: Editor) and Reggie Perrin, along with old war films such as The Great Escape and John Wayne’s back catalogue.

“I remember him calling me downstairs to watch action scenes from movies but being sent away again if he knew there was some bad language or nudity coming up!”

Gardening and growing produce was also a passion for Don.

James continues: “Inspired by mum’s father (another Harry!), dad spent more and more of his free time on, first, his garden and then his allotment (I’m told he had to be dragged away from there on the day I was born!).

“This hobby became a passion and he was never happier than in late summer when the veg was ready for picking and dahlias were starting to flower.

“This led to the annual pilgrimage to the Baildon Horticultural Society Show, first at the Methodist Church and then, latterly, Belmont (School).

“Although dad was very competitive and took great pride in the trophies he won – be they for best onions or the top tray – his chief concern was for it to be a good show, full of exhibits and full of people.

“This was a trait of his. He was acutely aware of the changing times and knew that protecting things like the show and helping it to flourish was very important to the village. Over all the years of competition he never claimed a penny of prize money.

“The desire to protect things he loved began with his family and extended out to his other love – cricket.

“Over a period of 40 years, he held tightly on to cricket in Baildon and did everything in his power to ensure it would flourish and outlast him long into the future.

“When he first began playing for Baildon Meths, our pitch was in the grounds of Belmont School without a single facility. Gradually over the years the club gained a shed, then a proper pavilion, then a refurbished roller (brought back to life in his garage), then a junior team and a second pitch.

“Seeing that the future of lower-league cricket was starting to look grim, with teams starting to disappear, he worked hard to bring about the merger of Baildon CC and Baildon Meths CC to form one overall club encompassing five senior sides.

“Around the same time he realised that the lack of junior cricket at Baildon would mean that Katy’s sons would have to look elsewhere. This was not going to happen on his watch.

“So, just as he had done for me, he began to coach the juniors at Baildon again and helped usher through the current era at the club, where people like Dom Kelly and Alex Shaw have continued the good work he started.

“All this was done while also serving as groundsman, club secretary and, for a number of years, league secretary (of the Bradford Mutual Sunday School League).

“Not content with spinning every plate off the pitch, he also dominated affairs on it too. From his beginnings as a tearaway fast bowler to a wicket-keeper batsman, he finished his career as an accomplished left-handed opening batter for whom scoring 600 runs every season was a mere formality.

“The sight of him striding to the wicket in his trademark white helmet and Sachin Tendulkar-style batting pads left many an opening bowler knowing they were in for a tough afternoon.

“I, along with many of my close friends in cricket, were lucky enough to play in the same team as him and I will treasure every memory I have of sharing a pint with him after the game.

“When my son Sam and I played in the same team together last season, seeing him watching us from the sidelines on the ground that he poured so much effort into was a very special moment.

“So, although today is going to be hard, we need to remember dad the right way with his big, infectious smile and a kind word for everyone he met.

“As a family, throughout our lives, it was impossible to go anywhere without bumping into someone who would ask after dad, such was his influence and his ability to touch people’s lives.

“I’m pretty sure that this will continue on for a good while yet. So every time you see a police officer, a game of cricket, a well-kept garden or allotment or if you make the pilgrimage to Whitby, take a second, crack a smile and think of Don.”

Many thanks again to Bill Marshall for taking the time to put the above summary together. In closing, the committee would like to say a big thank you to Don for the time he spent holding our club together and making sure that we have continued to move forwards. As we look to the future, we always need more volunteers and more individuals willing to give of their time to help a true community asset continue. If you would like to be more involved with the running of our club please feel free to get in touch and you will be more than welcome to get stuck in!

362 views0 comments


bottom of page