'A lifetime at Lisburn' - Cecil Walker
Ian Callender - Belfast Telegraph
There can be few more loyal and influential one-club men in cricket than Cecil Walker – the godfather of Lisburn Cricket Club - who passed away yesterday at the age of 89.
As a player he turned out for more than 20 years, eight of them as captain – no-one has served in that role for longer – leading them to three league titles, either side of playing in seven Challenge Cup finals.
As club secretary he was behind the appointment of John Solanky, the first professional to play in the NCU, and persuaded Ian Botham, at the peak of his powers, to turn out for a Lisburn Select XI in a game to celebrate the club’s 150th anniversary,
He went on to become club chairman and president and was club patron at the time of his death.
The Lisburn club honoured him with the naming of the Cecil Walker Pavilion at Wallace Park, he was a recipient of the ICC’s Centenary Medal – recognising cricket volunteers throughout the world - in 2009 and two years later the Queen honoured him with the MBE.
Although he never achieved international honours as a player, he was a tireless administrator for the old Irish Cricket Union in Ireland’s amateur days, serving as ICU chairman and president and was instrumental in the appointment of Mike Hendrick, who died in July, as Ireland’s first full-time professional coach.
It was his father Fred that told the 11 year-old Cecil to go to Wallace Park because he had been breaking too many windows playing cricket in Ivan Street and he was part of the furniture ever since.
As he told the Ulster Star: “That’s how it all started and I gained a lot of experience in the 1950s era with some great players around me and that helped me a lot and gave me a great grounding and appreciation for the sport".
His first Challenge Cup success was in 1958 when the trophy was shared with Sion Mills because of poor weather but Lisburn won three of the next four finals on the field in teams which included other legendary names such as Dermott Monteith, Jack Bowden, Tom McCloy and Herbie Martin.
His last cup final was as captain in 1970, the year after Lisburn’s third league success in seven years.
However his devotion and work about the club never ceased – he was even chief groundsman for many years – and even as his health waned in later years, and following the death of his wife Sylvia in 2017, he was a regular visitor to the club with his daughter Gloria.
Cecil will be sorely missed but by no-one more than Gloria, Robin, Jill, Elliott, Shannon and the family circle.