THE Cheshire Veterans cricket team is looking for some young blood to swell their ranks next season.
They are managed by Norman Halsall, one of Wirral's best-known sportsmen, who retains an enthusiasm for cricket which is undimmed after a career spanning well over 50 years.
The former Cheshire all-rounder began as a raw teenage all-rounder at Caldy and finished at Winnington Park aged 60. He now concentrates his cricket energies on running the team in the ECB 50 Plus County championship acting as secretary-manager.
A West Kirby man, Norman has a burning ambition to win the national veterans tournament after several near misses, including a semi-final appearance in 2002 and a quarter-final spot last season when Cheshire lost at Ashford to Kent, the eventual winners, who went on to beat Lancashire in the final at Black-pool in September.
Said Norman: "We have some very good older cricketers in Cheshire and invariably manage to beat first-class counties Durham, Notts and Derbyshire, although we often have difficulty against Lancashire. Skipper Nick Sharp and I won't give up until we win it.
"The cameraderie is as good as it was in the days when I played for Cheshire alongside such outstanding personalities as Fred Millett, Ken Ingman, Arthur Sutton and Tony Shillinglaw."
The Fifties team is now a fully-fledged part of the Cheshire Cricket Board setup with an enthusiastic chairman in exprofessional spinner Stan Davies, who, like Norman gave up playing only a handful of years ago.
Top players last season were 'new boy' Chris Leech (Winnington Park) with 406 runs, Nick Sharp (Grappenhall) 265 and Widnes' Alan Hitchmough with 193, while the most successful bowler was Timperley's David Cain with 23 wickets, while evergreen Oxton seamer Mike Fell, 55, wheeled away as consistently as ever and conceded only 2.2 runs per over.
Norman, who played for the team until 1996, was himself overall top run scorer and wicket taker with 1,418 and 55 from 1990 until last season.
Norman is proud of his record of having scored at least one century for every club he has played for in his career, both as a professional and amateur.
This is quite a feat considering he roamed from Caldy to Neston, onto Birkenhead Park, Burnley, Werneth, Farnworth, Netherfield and Winnington Park, not to mention Minor Counties experience with Cheshire and Cumbria.
His all-round record in exactly 100 appearances for Cheshire from 1962 to 1980 is almost without parallel, bringing him 2,273 runs and 148 wickets.
Since he retired from playing cricket, keen golfer Norman has run the Fifties with a typical blend of efficiency and good humour, but what did irritate him last season was being stuck in the scorebox when he would have preferred to be with his players.
He invites anyone wishing to act as scorer next season and join a cheerful bunch of players, to contact him on 0151 625 2689.