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Derek Johnson was a great leader

Derek Johnson was a great leader

Derek Johnson, widely regarded as one of the finest captains to have plied their trade in the Central Yorkshire League, has died aged 72.

He masterminded three Heavy Woollen Cup triumphs, two for Chickenley in 1983 and 1988 and one for Mirfield in 1990 .

Derek, who also had a spell with Liversedge where he led the club to the Central Yorkshire League title and Yorkshire Council Play-Off triumphs in successive days in 1992, ensured that his teams were hard to beat thanks to his tactical nous.

His achievements in the Heavy Woollen Cup led to him being asked to present the trophy at the 2010 final in which his son-in-law John Carruthers was captaining Hanging Heaton against Wrenthorpe at Bennett Lane.

“It was great for Derek to be asked to present the cup, but I didn’t feel too great when he had to hand it to the Wrenthorpe skipper Gary Fellows,” recalls John, who is married to Derek’s daughter Sarah.

League treasurer Mick Varley and Management Board member Bob Schofield played many times against Derek during their long associations with Ossett.

Mick says: “Batting against Derek was never easy. He was no more than medium pace, but he bowled big inswingers. He was a handful and you had to work hard for your runs. I am sure he will have been happy that the current legside wide rules were not in place in his day.”

“Playing against any side led by Derek was tough,” recalls Schofield. “He had a wonderful knowledge of the game, and he knew how to win. Along with Russell Heritage he was the best captain I played against.

“He played hard but was always fair and after the game he was a wonderful companion. As hard as it was to play again Derek’s sides, you could not help but admire his leadership skills and enjoy his camaraderie off the field.”

Schofield added: “I don’t think it was coincidence where Derek played his cricket. The clubs he played at tended to have green-top pitches which clearly suited his bowling. He had many a batter caught at leg slip or short leg. He was a canny bowler.”

Derek leaves a wife Pat, daughter Sarah, and two grandchildren Thomas and Isabelle. His funeral will take place at Dewsbury Moor Crematorium on Monday, February 14 at 11.10am. There will be family flowers only. Donations can be made to Dementia UK via https://www.funeralguide.co.uk/obituaries/96881

His many cricketing friends have posted touching tributes to a man they loved and respected in equal measure.

RIP Derek.

Top picture:  Derek Johnson with Liversedge Cricket chairman David Mann after leading Liversedge to victory in the Yorkshire Council play-offs at Birstall in 1992, a day after winning the Central Yorkshire League title.

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