Sports Awards: Cherry played major role in development of youth cricket
HE'S known as "Mr Cricket" and few people would argue with Bob Cherry's affectionate nickname given his contribution to the sport.
For more than 60 years Cherry has been at the forefront of the game in North Staffordshire, as a player, umpire and administrator.
He spent many years as secretary of the North Staffordshire and District League, sat on various liaison committees and was also a member of the League Cricket Conference.
But he is perhaps best known for his 42-year stint as Kidsgrove and District League secretary, which came to an end at their recent annual meeting.
But not that Cherry, who is in his seventies, has put his feet up.
He's now taken on the role of the league's publicity officer as he continues his efforts to champion cricket – and the junior game in particular.
And his hard work has not only been appreciated locally, but on the national stage after he received the lifetime achievement accolade at the Natwest Outstanding Service to Cricket Awards (OSCAs) at Lord's in 2010.
Cherry, who lives in Cotes Heath near Swynnerton, took over from Ernest Farley as Kidsgrove League secretary in 1970 and has helped oversee the continued development of youth cricket across North Staffordshire and South Cheshire.
The Kidsgrove League, which was formed in 1947, had three divisions when Cherry became involved in providing youngsters with competitive, organised cricket.
But in the subsequent years, the former teacher has seen the league blossom into its current format of five under-17s divisions, three under-13s sections, as well as knockout competitions.
Not only have clubs benefited from the league's development, but individuals have also grasped the opportunity with both hands. The likes of Bob Taylor (Bignall End), David Steele (Sneyd), Kim Barnett (Leek) and Dominic Cork (Betley) all started their careers as junior players in the Kidsgrove League before going on to play Test cricket for England.
His retirement from the role of secretary prompted officers to make him life president and name the league in his honour.
"Cricket is not played much, if at all, in schools nowadays, and there aren't inter-school competitions like there used to be," said Cherry.
"There is football and rugby, but that is what made the league so attractive. It gave kids the opportunity to play cricket.
"The links between cricket and education are carefully nurtured. If you receive a good education and have the chance to play cricket for a good club, then you are doubly blessed.
"What the league has done over the years is tremendous. And one of the things I am proud of is the fact we've never had a serious disciplinary matter.
"I've spoken to players who have moved on to the professional game and they said the Kidsgrove League is the finest thing they did because it provided opportunities."
Cherry has now been nominated in the Service to sport category of The Sentinel/City of Stoke-on-Trent Sports Personality of the Year Awards by the Kidsgrove and District Junior League committee.
Treasurer Stuart Smith said: "Bob has contributed massively and no-one is ever going to repeat what he has done for cricket in North Staffordshire and South Cheshire."