The latest Q&A session is with ex Hill player Gav 'the Mooth' Richmond. This is an unedited version so apologies if easily offended, but it really does capture why playing at the Hill is so special, and how it has helped shape people's lives.
For those who are wondering where Gavin is today, he is a Dad of 4 and an Elementary School teacher in Traverse City, Michigan, USA. He can be found (all day/everyday) on various socal media platforms under the alias @gavthegeordie
Thanks for completing Gav and hope to see you back a the Hill some time this decade with the family.
Q1. How many years have you been a member at the Hill?
I was a playing member from 1982 to 1999. Should really be a lifetime member for the amount of snakey I’ve drank there, though.
Q2. What other clubs/teams have you played for?
None! Always a Hillbilliy! I have a tattoo to prove it!
Q3. What’s your best performance for the Hill?
Allegedly, I was a bit of a bowler! So my 7-14 vs. Alnwick (‘96 season) always sticks out! But I think the week before I got 6-32 against the posh lads from Gossy at their place which I think was a better! I always fancied mesel as a batter like! I once had 99 not out at some dodgy place oot in the sticks of Northumberland! I missed a full toss doon legside which went for 4 byes! The game ended right there with me stuck on 99! My 26 not out at Tynedale with Lunny was canny as well. Lisha thought it was a good idea to bowl around the wicket at my legs! Numpty! Critical runs for us!
Q4. What was your most memorable game and season at the Hill?
Any game of the 1996 season when we won the Northumberland County league with the Parrot (Scott Willy) as captain would do for me! Even the odd one we lost! I played most of them with a hangover, including one at home to the posh lads from Gossy again! I was on the piss in Stranraer of all places the night before!
I remember a lot of the games really vividly actually! Morpeth away was a scorcher when England played Switzerland in Euro ‘96. That was the “Spin Swampy, spin” game! When we beat them, I really thought we could do something special. We rolled over a lot of teams, too. We scored over 300 against Alnwick! I’d never seen anything like it! Normally the openers blocked the shite out of it and we’d struggle to get 180-200!
I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned it, or if anyone has ever heard this but I once won the Sunday Sun North East Cricket of the Month for August 1996, you know! Got 20 wickets in four games and Dave MacKay nominated me! I found out one day when I was working in Virgin and some bloke called me! I thought it was a piss take! I’m pretty sure I haven’t mentioned it before, though! When I went to Sports Pack to get my prizes the owner, John Pack, was there and the photographer from the Sunday Sun was there. She was absolutely gorgeous and John was trying to steam in!
And then the icing on the cake was Blyth last game of the season! Swampy and me batting to get to 200. All the muppets were pissing and moaning that we were not hitting boundaries! Then last ball of our innings I’ve smashed one onto Plessy Road to get us to 200 and max bonus points! I then bowled 25 overs, got a few wickets, and ended up double fisting it in the shower with LCL snakey (Thanks Jerry) and champagne! Happy, happy days!
I was Captain of Vice (I know, who in their right mind would choose me?) in 1999 and was actually unbeaten in 9 games, winning 8 and having the cup final at Blaydon rained off when Gazza belly slid doon the grass after it lashed it doon and flooded the pitch!
I know we won the league in 1998 (when I went to the USA in June) and in ‘99 but I honestly don't remember any of those games! 1996 was so memorable in so many ways and after every game we’d end up in Diva getting lashed!
Q5. Best player you have played with for the Hill? and elsewhere?
Best pro was Chris Craven. I was super impressed by his professionalism, intensity, and will to win. It was really infectious and I think a major contributor to why we were so successful after he came. Once saw him take out some bouncers on the floating nightclub, too! Not one to mess with!
As a club cricketer, I’d have to say Nicko. His blood runs cricket and he’s got this half Geordie/half Lancashire accent that sounds a bit odd. He really should retire now though. He’s about as much good as a chocolate tea-pot out there now!
Seriously though, Scott Willy and I don’t get enough credit for his cricket career. We once saved his life on a Northumberland U19 tour that was in Newcastle! We were out having a few orange juices round the Cradlewell area when Nicko took bad (hammered drinking peach schnapps!)! He was oot on a bench and Scott and I got him home! The next day we were playing against Lancashire on a glass top at the Hill! We rocked up all hungover and rough and there’s the Lancashire lads with their enormous bus already out warming up! We get out onto the field and someone throws one to Nicko! Right through his gloves and smacks him on the heed! Brilliant!
Steamy Windows was a talented cricketer as well. He was always trying new stuff and he was very creative with bat and ball! He was really annoying to place against though cos he chirped the whole time.
Mike Younger was pretty special, too. A really talented cricketer. We shared 10 wickets at Tynemouth one day when most of the balls rolled under the bat!
Q6. Best player you have played against? Batsman, Bowler and WK?
Best batsman was Kelvin Williams from Tynedale. Smashed me from the middle of the square into Tom Willy’s garden! Everything he hit, he smashed!
Best bowler? Well Collie Soloman made me shit mesel! I had never faced anything that quick before! But Rami Verma tweaked it all over the place!
Best wicket keeper would have to be our very own ginger bollocks, Nicko! He just loves it! I remember when he dislocated his shoulder in ‘96! He was howling in agony after diving for one. The ambulance came and the medic asked Nicko if he could walk up to the ambulance. Nicko whimpered ”No” and the medic pulled a 8 inch needle and says “You’ll be dancing after this!”
Q7. Most feared opponent’s when playing for the Hill or other team?
I never feared anyone playing for the Hill. Some bowlers were quick but the best part of being on a team is that you are just one cog in eleven. There was always someone on the team who would score runs or get wickets.
Q8. Best ground’s played at?
We played at Derbyshire’s ground for the Northumberland U19s on tour against Northern Ireland which was canny. In the North East I always enjoyed playing at Jesmond even though I never got wickets there, never scored runs, and usually ended up being hit into the cemetery! I did have my worst hangover ever there, though! I’d been to a German beer festival the night before that had seen me dance on the tables to an ABBA tribute band! Lippa picked me up on the way and we had to stop for me to puke! I remember the late Les (Miserables) Adams walking round the boundary to give me some paracetamol...twice! I also played there when Dave Bam...ford had his Fiesta XR2 nicked!
Q9. Team you always love to beat?
Those stuck up bastards from Gosforth. Hate them. They always had a chip on their shoulder and spoke like they had marbles in their mouth. They were everything I wasn’t! I hated everyone we played against to be honest. County Club, Tynedale, Tynemouth, Benwell, the lot! Had some good times against Ashington, but still didn’t like them!
Q10. If you could make one change at the Hill what would it be?
The Hill is brilliant! I loved playing there! The changing rooms were always a little on the small side, but bigger than some places!
Q11. If you could make one change to NEPL what would it be?
Get rid of any teams in Blunderland.
Q12. Advice for young cricketers?
Work hard! I think back to the days when Tom Willy and Alan Evans coached us. It was pretty simple. Now there is so much more thought and professionalism in coaching kids. At the end of the day, it comes down to working hard at your craft and getting better. (I didn’t really work too hard!) The difference between the best and the rest is how much you are prepared to do when no-body else is around you and watching.
Q13. Favourite cricketers of all time? Batsman, Bowler and WK
I loved Ian Botham as a player. He smashed it and was a difference maker when he bowled. I always fancied myself as a bit of an all rounder and he was someone that I could relate to! I loved watching the Callers/Pegasus games at Jesmond and I was always in awe of how fast they bowled and how hard they hit it!
Q14. Your best ever Hill XI
This is a tough one! It’s hard to pick individuals, so I’d have to go for the players that contributed to winning the league back in 1996! Obviously, I’d have myself in there! It would be rude not to. I know there were better players than me but I always gave 100% in every game. So many great players that I was lucky enough to play with! (They probably didn’t feel the same way aboot playing with me, like!)
Q15. Your best ever Northumberland XI
Alan Thompson didn’t pick me when I was in my prime so I’m boycotting this one. I bumped into him not long after we won the league in ‘96 and told him how “disappointed” I was at not getting a crack of the whip - In my own inimitable way!
Q16. Your best ever NEPL XI
Never played in the NEPL, but so happy when the Hill won it!
Q17. Your best ever England XI
Cook, Gooch, Gower, Hick, Pietersen, Stokes, Botham (capt), Swann, Stewart (wk), Broad, Anderson
Q18. Your best ever World XI
Haynes, Greenidge, Kohli, Richards, Tendulkar, Botham (capt), Hadlee, Warne, Gilchrist (wk), Marshall,
Q19. Desert Island Album ? Song ? Book ?
Best album is Violater by Depeche Mode,
Best song Enjoy the Silence by Depeche Mode
Best Book? Ha ha, that’s funny! (I can actually read, but I choose not to! It’s so bloody boring!)
Q20. Finally, funniest memory on a cricket field
There have been a few funnies! Nicko getting lamped on the heed vs Lancashire after the Parrott and I saved his life, Dave (Sachin) Bamford batting, “Spin Swampy, spin!”, the plethora of “For fucks sake, Scott!” every time SS Williamson played with Younger and Allen, Gordon Harrison impaling himself on a fence at Bedlington in the same game Morph got sconed off a length and split his eye open, Brian “Ayrton Senna” Taylor appealing for lbw then giggling, Tom Willy’s mad driving to Manderstone in his brand new car doing 125mph up the A1, getting “Murdered Off” at Percy Main, playing anywhere in the North-east Durham League with Havesy, the Hogarths, Demis, et. al, and loads of craic in the millions of pubs we went to after the games all over the North of England!
It was a real privilege to play for the Hill. I still yearn for it and miss the cricket, the craic, the socializing, and the players dearly. Happy, happy days for me and some of the best memories of my life!
Disclaimer - The views expressed in this article are solely those of the indivudal being interviewed, and do not represent those of Benwell Hill Cricket Club. Any views or opinion are not intended to cause offence to any individuals or organisations, apart from Nico.