Date: 30th Jun 2022
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JOHN HENRY MILLER: MAGHULL CC

Date: 26th March 2022

JOHN HENRY MILLER: MAGHULL CC

Fine tributes for one of Maghull CC's finest.

It is with huge sadness that Maghull CC announce the passing of their much-loved chairman and groundsman John Miller on Saturday 26th March, after a short illness.

John was born on the 8th of January 1944 in Liverpool and grew up with his brother and two sisters in Huyton. He attended Rupert Road School in Huyton, leaving in 1960, before commencing an apprenticeship as a Toolmaker for English Electric in Netherton and then studying part time for a HNC in Mechanical Engineering at Liverpool Polytechnic.

In 1967, John moved to Johannesburg in South Africa where he worked for a couple of engineering companies, including GKN Sankey. He returned in 1971 marrying Vera shortly after his return. He was now sufficiently experienced to work in supervisory, technical and management roles and worked for several companies in the local area. However, the decline of manufacturing in the late 1970s and early 80s in the UK, saw John leave his family in Skelmersdale and work in Saudi Arabia for two years shortly after moving to Maghull in 1979.

Once back in the UK, John worked in various managerial roles in both design and recruitment, sometimes helping club members who had fallen on hard times secure employment before he took early retirement in 2002. Since then, as his CV states, he was a Self-Employed Groundsman, primarily for Maghull, but better known on the circuit as having the know-how to fix broken ground machinery. This was a service he provided to many local clubs over the years along with supplying them with training and advice. He also worked with a ground supplies wholesaler, to supply local clubs with grass seed, loam, and fertiliser.

John played for Burscough in the 1970s, where he gained a reputation as a fast bowler and handy late middle order batsman. After his spell working in the Middle East, he joined Maghull when his eldest son, Stephen joined the junior section. John took his coaching qualifications and quickly took over running the junior section that bloomed under his stewardship from one team to teams at Under 9 to Under 18 levels. The expertise of his coaching saw him develop players who joined the Lancashire Academy and play county 2nd XI cricket.

John was to many Mr Maghull CC and held many committee roles over the years including Bar Chairman and since 2008, Club Chairman. He was also a member of an exclusive club of Maghull CC members had represented all five of the teams that the club have fielded since being in the Liverpool Club. Since he lost his wife Vera in 2018, John was at the club most days as kept himself busy reseeding the entire outfield, maintaining ground equipment and helping with the refurbishment of the interior of the club. He had the respect of everyone who played on the pitches he prepared. He took over as custodian of the ground in 1999, when Maghull Town Council negotiated a new lease with the club and was immensely proud of the way it looked and performed. Several Maghull residents over the years have been berated over the years for using the square as a short cut and as for dog walkers who didn’t pick up their mess is best left to the imagination

He still tried to play one game each season though this wasn’t always possible, especially recently after the demise of the 4th and 5th XIs due to declining availability of players and grounds.  He was scheduled to play for the 2nd XI for the final game last season but gave up his place so former 1st team captain Martin Fitton could play his only game of the season, who promptly scored his only ton of the 21xt Century for which John claimed all the credit.

John had many interests and was a fan of many sports. He was huge fan of Liverpool FC but could also be seen at Old Hall Field in the winter months watching Maghull FC. He followed England Rugby and went on trips to watch them in the Six Nations with his close friends, who he also went to Germany with his eldest son in 2006 to watch the World Cup. He was a very keen golfer and played in the various Maghull golf events such as the end of season tour to North Wales and the Christmas Classic that he organised and played in at the end of December.

He liked to travel and broaden his horizons venturing as far as Australia and Indonesia, often to see his brother Keith, who worked for Shell. He also liked cycling and would take himself off days at a time mid-season to explore the back roads of Northern France.

But John will be remembered for his sense of humour by many Maghull members that was unique; sometimes sardonic, sometimes sarcastic and with the odd acerbic comment thrown in. Many a batsman, Maghull or opposition, has received a tongue lashing from him for playing a poor shot, while captains often had a stern lecture after a game was lost or drawn. John could be single-minded at times that could lead to some conflict with the Maghull management team, though John would always win the day, such was the strength of his character.

He was also a prolific letter writer, and he would regularly write to the Liverpool Echo and Maghull Champion commenting often in a non-PC way, on controversial issues or on any bugbear that John had at the time. He was also a stickler for spelling, punctuation and grammar and he would scrutinise any business letter he received, with the eye of an English teacher, returning them to the sender marked in red pen!

It was John’s wishes that he would not have a funeral as he had no religious or spiritual beliefs, however his family and the club do wish to hold an event celebrating John’s life and achievements during the season. Details of this will be posted at a later date.  

Our love, thoughts and prayers go out to his sons Stephen and John Jnr, daughter Elizabeth, daughter in law Becky and grandsons Isaac and Evan, of whom John was immensely proud.

Rest in Peace Mr Maghull.

 

Neil Dutton, Maghull 4th XI Captain adds:

It’s a strange fact of life, but if you live in a small rural village or town, there’s always one pub that if you mention the name of your hometown to a stranger, they’ll know the place. “Oh, you live in Rainford? The Bottle and Glass, eh?”

The same is true of cricket clubs. Whenever you mention the name of your team, someone will smile knowingly and say that they know the club and will always mention one club legend. A person who has seemingly been around the place forever, many years as a player, maybe a few more as a coach or umpire, but even more simply being around the place. For Maghull Cricket Club, that person was John Henry Miller.

Saturday March 26th was the first Saturday this year when it almost felt like cricket weather. A little breezy perhaps, almost certainly calling for long sleeves AND a jumper. But the first time in 2022 that the season felt like it was upon us. Sadly, it was also the day we lost John.

John was, in his younger days, a bloody good cricketer. A fine bowler and dogged batsman in his later years, his appearance at the crease was highlighted by his adherence to an old school white batting helmet, the type you only see now in grainy archive footage of Graham Gooch piling on runs against India at Lords in 1990. When he stopped playing - he didn’t retire, he just wanted the youngsters to play so he could offer his unique brand of advice from the sidelines - he devoted much of his time tending the ground, an activity for which he had a rare talent. A former bowler for Maghull, Paul Bower once told me that he thought John could “make a 240 plays 240 track on an iceberg”. Occasionally bowlers would complain that John’s pitches offered a bit too much encouragement towards the batter. “Bollocks” was his usual reply. “Bowl properly and you’ll take wickets. Bowl crap and you won’t.” He was, like most groundsmen, fiercely protective of his territory. Walking across or - God forbid - playing football on the square would be met with a glare that, if looks could kill, would have rendered flesh from bone in agonising fashion. 

The number of Maghull cricketers through the years who owed their development to the interest John took in their game at an early age can’t be accurately measured. Whether it was running an age group team, which he did for a number of years and across a number of ages, or helping out the All Stars as he did as late as last season, if John detected an interest he would be happy (Yes, I said happy) to help. “We don’t just need to produce 1st teamers Dutts”, he told me once. “More than one team at the club”. His advice varied in style, from one to one “framing” to get someone’s feet in the right place to giving a batsman out for playing a “shit shot” and all points in between. However the lesson was offered, it was usually easy to remember. For myself, the limited development I have shown from my first game in 2002 to the shot less limpet I am now, can be traced back to the loving delivery of the phrase “Good eye. Crap technique” from Mr Miller.

As someone who came to the game regrettably late, it is still hard for me to adequately express how big of an impact John had on my life. He helped me develop as a cricketer, he offered advice I have used as a coach (in perhaps a less direct and forthright fashion) and even complimented me as a captain (“They seem to want to play for you Dutts…God knows why, but they do”). I know I’m not alone in wishing I’d had one last chance to thank him for everything he did for me, for the club he loved so much, and for the game. My heart breaks for John Jnr, Steve, Elizabeth, and the entire Miller family at this time.

So long John. We’ll try to stay off the square.

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