Sports Awards: FA Cup tie is highlight for sporting stalwart Keith Tunnicliffe
KEITH Tunnicliffe is in little doubt about the highlight of his near-half-century involved in local sport.
A career which has taken in football, cricket, basketball, boxing and table tennis presented its high point at Crewe Alexandra's Gresty Road ground on November 18, 1989.
Tunnicliffe's Congleton Town, who were in the Northern Premier League, had reached the first round of the FA Cup for the one and only time in their history.
A creditable 2-0 defeat was the outcome for the Bears against their professional rivals, but Tunnicliffe, aged 66, says it was his proudest moment.
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"The game was goal-less until midway through the second half, but in the end our inexperience showed," he said.
"We had a good side in those days, and the chairman, Paul Warren, was absolutely fantastic.
"That day at Crewe is something which no-one can ever take away from me. You suffer disappointments in sport, but you still have the memories."
Tunnicliffe, from Newcastle, started his football life as a trialist at Manchester City in the early 1960s and featured in several Central League matches at full-back before his release.
His management career started with a job running Kidsgrove Athletic reserves in the 1970s, before he moved on to first-team duties at Alsager Town, Knypersley Vics and Congleton.
On the local cricket scene he was a promising opening batsman at Norton in the 1960s, and was a team-mate of the legendary West Indies all-rounder Garfield Sobers.
Spells at Oakamoor and Leycett followed, where he also served in off-field committee roles.
And his administrative contribution spread to the Potteries and District table tennis league, alongside a playing role.
Tunnicliffe was also involved in the formation of the sports awards during his time at Stoke-onTrent City Council.
He was on the Stoke-on-Trent Sports Advisory Council, which saw Tom Brennan first introduce the idea of an awards ceremony to honour sporting achievement in the area.
For the last 12 years of his 48 involved in local sport, Tunnicliffe has been best known for his involvement in cricket.
He was appointed secretary of the North Staffs and South Cheshire League in November 1999 and four years later became the league manager – a role he still holds today.
He was at the helm when the competition expanded from 26 to 48 clubs and has also managed the league side to four successive President's Trophy wins.
Tunnicliffe also spent a spell as an umpire, as well as being involved with the Staffs Cricket Board, Groundmen's Association and Umpires' Association.
He has now been nominated in the Tom Brennan Service to Sport category of The Sentinel/City of Stoke-on-Trent Sports Personality of the Year Awards by NSSCL president Chris Hopkin.
"Keith has devoted a huge amount of time over the years to both playing and administering sport," he said.
"It is cricket for which he is now best known, running a league of 48 clubs, arranging some 1,200 games per season."