The Sunderland fan who got to play on the same team as SAFC legend Len Shackleton - in cricket!
SAFC fan Tom Moffat has recalled the day he played a blinder – as a wicket keeper.
And even more remarkably, the five catches he took were all from the bowling of Sunderland Football Club legend Len Shackleton.
Tom and Shack were on the same team for a Wearmouth Colliery X1 which was taking on a side from Blackhall Colliery.
"Shack was a tremendous cricketer,” said Tom. “One day at Blackhall, he got 8 wickets and I caught 5 of them.”
But the best and biggest surprise was yet to come, said Tom.
"Len grabbed the match ball. At the next annual meeting of our club, I was called up to the stage and I thought it was probably to make a presentation to Shack. Instead, they said ‘this is for you’.
"Unknown to me, Shack had taken the match ball from that day, had it mounted and presented to me.”
It was just one story from Tom who paid tribute to Len but Tom is a remarkable man in his own right. At 91 years old, he’s had an illustrious life so far.
Tom played Durham Senior League cricket for over 40 years, and said: “In Len’s Sunderland AFC days, he played 6 years for Wearmouth Colliery Welfare CC and I kept wicket to him in all those 6 years.”
Tom, who founded the Durham Small Business Club and was a company managing director, is an MBE and was awarded the honour from the Queen for ‘Services to Small Business’.
His passion for cricket is well known in the region and he helped Durham to become the First Class county it is today.
"I played for Durham County many times going back to 1940's. I was Committee man, Treasurer, Director, President. I did all the research and business plan to present to the then large committee to try for First Class Status - then saw it through to successful completion.”
He was a former college lecturer, a Freemason for more than 60 years and counting and has been just as active with one of the other loves of his life.
He helped the old Pelton Colliery Band to become one of the best brass bands in the country.
Les told us: “Shack used to be a neighbour and he was a real character,” said Les.
Another SAFC favourite of Les’s – and of Tom Moffat – was Willie Watson, a half back who could turn his hand to cricket as well. In fact, he played for his country and both Les and Tom had a great admiration for him.
Our thanks go to Tom who has just published his latest book called 75 First Class Years with Nancy in memory of his wife.
Do you have a story to tell about one of Sunderland’s footballing legends? Tell us more by emailing [email protected]