Emotional tributes paid to 'loving' dad and 'cricket champion'

News: Emotional tributes paid to ‘loving’ dad and ‘cricket champion’

Another Lincolnshire Highlights news story…

Emotional tributes have been paid to cricket champion and ‘Mr Retford’ Mike Hall. 

The 84-year-old was a life-long lover of cricket who played professionally for Nottinghamshire and closer to home in Retford for many years. 

Hundreds of people gathered to celebrate his extraordinary life at his funeral at Babworth Crematorium on August 29. 

At the service 13 people gathered to give a touching guard of honour with cricket bats as his coffin passed into the crematorium. 

At his funeral it was said that he had four passions in life ‘Family, cricket, horse racing and Sheffield United’. 

He left behind two sons, Chris and Nigel, and his wife of 63 years Mary when he died suddenly and unexpectedly of a heart attack on August 10 this year.

His son Chris told the Retford Times he can’t thank his father enough.

Chris, Nigel and Mike Hall at Trent Bridge celebrating Mike’s 80th birthday in 2015.

He said: “My dad couldn’t have been any more loving, he was extremely determined and loyal and he tried to pass those traits down to myself and my brother. 

“One thing he did give us was massive passions in the things that he loved too. Cricket has become a massive part of all of our lives and a love for football club Sheffield United.

“He was a leader, captain, gentleman and a good man. 

“I can never thank him enough for those virtues that he passed down to us. 

“He took me to my first trip to the cinema and we shared the same sense of humour and taste in films.”

At the funeral on his coffin was just his cricket bat, cap and ball. 

Mike had led an extraordinary life from playing professional cricket to running his own video tape rental store in Retford called Video Hall. 

His son Chris has shared with us some of the special moments throughout his life. 

Family

Mike was son to JB and Mary Hall and was born in Worksop in 1935 and the family moved to Retford in 1949. 

Son Chris said: “Some would say that my dad’s greatest catch was when he married my mum.

“They met when my dad moved to Retford from Worksop in 1949 at Retford cricket ground.

“They married in 1955 and I was born in 1956 and my brother Nigel in 1962.” 

The pair celebrated their 60 Diamond wedding anniversary in 2015 surrounded by their friends and family and received a special letter from the Queen. 

Mike and his two sons also got to share their biggest passion together and even played in the same first team for Retford Cricket Club.

 

His grandaughter Charlotte, Nigel’s daughter, was born in 1995. 

Chris added: “Those two had a very loving and special relationship. She gave one of the eulogies to her grandfather which was very heart felt and emotional.”

Cricket

His love of cricket started early as his dad was also a professional cricketer. 

At just 14-years-old Mike made his first of many achievements in his cricketing career as he made the First 11 team at his grammar school. 

Chris said: “Dad was a brilliant batsman for the grammar school. 

“In 1952 at the age of 17 he landed his first professional contract with Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club

“There is a great picture of him in 1952 at 17 coming off the field at Trent Bridge. 

“From 1952 to 1959 he played 22 first class matches for Nottinghamshire. One of his proudest memories was scoring his top First Class score of 77 in partnership with the Australian legend Keith Miller.

Mike at Trent Bridge on his 80th birthday

“He also caught Dennis Compton for 0 first ball at Trent Bridge as a slip fielder which was quite an achievement.”

Mike left the club at the end of the 50s and was heavily involved with Retford Cricket Club. 

He was the most successful league captain in the clubs history winning five league titles. 

The cricket legend also played 300 consecutive first team matches in a 14 year period which was a record only broken by his son Nigel. 

During that time he also played for the Bassetlaw League and Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club second team. 

Chris added: “During that time my dad was able to coach and champion England legend Derek Randall when he was starting out. 

“My dad coached him and got him onto summer teams and helped him to progress. 

“Derek went on to play 47 times for England and was a great friend of my dad’s. 

“He led the guard of honour at his funeral.”

 

In 1992 Mike received lifetime membership at Retford Cricket Club for his services to them which was presented to him by umpire Harold ‘Dickie’ Bird. 

Then in 2003 Mike was invited to Lord’s where he was given an Oscar for his services to cricket by the ECB. In the same year he was also awarded the lifetime achievement award at the Bassetlaw Sports Awards.

Horse Racing

Chris said: “A lot of people don’t know this, but this was one of my dad’s big passions. 

“In the 1980’s he was a race horse owner, he owned two which both won races.

“They were called Master Tyke and Taristeac he loved horse racing and he was an expert on it.

“It was a lifetime dream of his, which came to light as he had a period of working as a bookmaker at Osticks in Grove Street.”

He became a well-known face in the industry and even managed to meet jockey Lester Piggot. 

Sheffield United 

Mike was a life-long dedicated Sheffield United fan and became well-known to players and management throughout his many years supporting the team. 

Chris said: “We are all massive fans of the team and that began with my dad. His dad JB took him to his first match in 1947. 

“From then to this year my dad was the biggest fan and travelled to as many matches as he could. 

“As children the whole family would get in the car and travel everywhere to watch united and later in life I took my dad. 

”Three of the people who took part in the guard of honour were former Sheffield United players. One of those was Tony Currie, who is now a director and is the greatest player in the clubs history.”

When Mike’s coffin entered the crematorium You Can Do Magic was played which was a song synonymous with the club in the 70s.

Mike was heavily involved with Retford Cricket Club
(Image: Jon Knight)

Later in the service the song Rose Garden was also played which was another tune associated with the team in the 70s which included Tony Currie. 

Mike also had another love affair, but this was for a place that was very special to him and he visited numerous times throughout his life, Barbados.  

He first visited in 1978 and he fell in love with the people and the way of life on the island. 

In total he visited 53 times until just a few years ago when he became too ill to travel. 

Former Chairman at Retford Cricket Club Mike Gray said: “Mike was Retford Cricket Clubs biggest champion. 

“He held many roles there over the years and I got to know him pretty well over my 17 years as chairman. 

 “He was just a great man and champion of cricket and he’ll always be remembered for that.”



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