CHEADLE Cricket Club chairman Ian Plant has led the tributes to Staffordshire cricket stalwart Bob Cherry, who died on Saturday at the age of 85.
Mr Cherry spent a 42-year spell as secretary of the Kidsgrove & District Junior League up until 2012, helping make the competition one of the most envied in the country.
Mr Plant said: "I've known Bob Cherry for over 40 years, ever since I first played for Cheadle in the Kidsgrove League as a 14-year-old. He's someone I've always held in high esteem.
"Last year, I proposed that the Kidsgrove League be re-named the Bob Cherry Kidsgrove League in his honour.
"I was fortunate enough to be selected for the league representative XI and to benefit from Bob's encouragement.
"He was a schoolteacher by profession, who everyone listened to."
Mr Cherry served local cricket with distinction as a player, umpire and administrator for more than 60 years after moving from Hull with his family in the 1940s.
He was nicknamed "Chucker Cherry" during his time as a player in the old North Staffordshire & District League because of his unusual bowling action.
"He was renowned for chucking the ball, but no-one dared to call him because he was a league official!" quipped Mr Plant.
Mr Cherry spent many years as secretary of the North Staffs & District League, sat on various liaison committees and was also instrumental in expanding the Kidsgrove League from three divisions to its current format of five under-17 sections, three at under-13 level and a knockout cup competition.
He received the lifetime achievement accolade at the national Natwest Outstanding Service to Cricket Awards (OSCAs) at Lord's in 2010.
"Everyone will miss him," said Mr Plant. "It's a shame he wasn't honoured with an MBE or OBE. It's people like him who should be recognised in the honours lists."
Meanwhile, former Derbyshire batsman Hamza Siddique has re-joined Cheadle for the new season.
The 23-year-old's return to Tean Road will compensate for the loss of skipper Shaun Jenkinson to North Staffs & South Cheshire League rivals Barlaston.