Cricketing Obituary Joe Tomlinson 1930-2024

By Tim Mansfield

John Glaister's tribute

The small Westmorland market town of Kirkby Lonsdale, tucked away in the Lune Valley, has long been a hotbed of team sports. A Cricket Club was first formed in 1840. Many a luminary has since donned the club cap. With the death of Joe Tomlinson another name is added to the pantheon list of former players.

Joe was 25 years old before becoming fully established in the Kirkby team. First a seven-year plumbing apprenticeship followed by three years of national service deprived him of much cricket. Thereafter there was no stopping him. Hundreds of wickets were taken with his quirky bowling action. Joe always said he would nag out a batsman with his slow, medium pacers bowled with a relentless accuracy. He nagged out many and is the club's leading wicket taker of all time.

In 1956 he was irrepressible. His 84 Division One wickets saw him win the league averages and gain selection for representative honours. His five for 48 against Northern League Kendal was a crowning display of nagging.

The Westmorland Cricket League was left incredulous soon into the 1958 season when the historic Kirkby Lonsdale Club announced that it was withdrawing from the competition, citing a lack of players and finances. Bad went to worse in 1959 when the bespoke and unique octagonal pavilion erected in 1902 went up in flames along with all the club’s equipment. Cue Joe Tomlinson and his band of brothers.

Out of the ashes rose a phoenix and a new era of KLCC with Joe in the vanguard. Re-admitted to the Westmorland Cricket League in 1960 with a new pavilion, but in Division Three, they were Division One team again by 1962, almost entirely on the back of Joes wickets. 77 in 1960 and 105 in 1961. Too good for the lesser batsman, the first division elite found facing Joe’s naggers just as taxing. Between 1962 and 1974, he averaged a remarkable 65 league wickets a season. In amongst this amazing sequence was a red letter day.

10 years on from Pavilion blaze, Kirkby Lonsdale CC bought their Lunefield Park ground from the Underley Estate for £750 in a sale of the century deal. Needless to say, Joe was one of those at the forefront. Behind the scenes, his plumbing skills and work appetite were invested freely into the club. In short, Joe for many a year was at the centre of all things at the club. Remarkably, Kirkby Lonsdale Cricket Club has never been champions of the Westmorland Cricket League but as if to celebrate the acquisition of Lunefield Park, Joe finally got a medal when Kirkby won the 1969 league knockout competition.

With the restructuring of the league in 1975 and with new kids on the block, Joe slipped down the divisions. In the nether divisions between 1979 and 1983 he was still a champion averaging 57 wickets per season. With the introduction of knockout cricket in 1964 and the additional wickets this garnered, there is a likelihood Joe Tomlinson became one of a handful of bowlers to reach 2000 career wickets.

A tall, broad shouldered man and a lifelong resident of historic Kirkby Lonsdale, Joe was a well known and highly respected man about town. A legend at the Cricket Club, he was also, in his time a playing member of the rugby, bowls and golf clubs. Indeed he was a Kirby Lonsdale sporting polymath. He's gone, but won't be forgotten.

John Glaister

Where next?

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