“TO Serve Them All My Days” is the title of a distinguished novel by R.F. Delderfield on the theme of a man’s devotion to teaching in and leading a public school. It might apply equally in a very different social context to the remarkable record of service over more than 70 years given to Burnley Cricket Club by my old friend Clifford Maden, who died recently at the age of 91.
A youngster spotted in local works’ cricket, Clifford became a Burnley player in 1939, when the club’s professional was the legendary India all-rounder Amar Singh. He played on until 1956, sending down lively in-swing on a usually immaculate length. On one bright late April day in 1948, he wrote himself into Lancashire League history with an astonishing 8 wickets for 6 runs against Haslingden.
Excellent though his playing career was it was perhaps overshadowed by his subsequent unique off-field contribution to the club. Until fairly recently he was a constant and active presence at Turf Moor, serving over the years as a committee member, director, behind-the-scenes organiser on match days and a wise mentor to young players. Nothing was too much trouble to Clifford if it was in the interests of his club and the game he loved.
It was a particular pleasure to me to travel back in time with Clifford over a drink in the club’s bar after a Burnley home game. He was not the type of ex-player who bores with recitations of how good it was in his day, but nursing his customary half-pint he could sometimes be persuaded into humorous reminiscence about the immediate post-war decade, which is generally regarded as a golden age for the league. We would share a laugh or two about some of the salty competitors around when clubs could afford to employ the world’s finest cricketers as professionals, including in Burnley’s case the great Cecil Pepper and his colourful fellow Aussie Syd Barnes, a key member of Don Bradman’s 1948 “Invincibles” and a man who professed to believe there was no such thing as bad publicity.
Thanks for the memories Clifford. Rest in peace and keep pitching them on a length in the Elysian Fields.
Lower Langtree Farm