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.

Thursday, 22nd July 2021, 2:12 pm

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.”

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Tom Moffat who vividly remembers his time on the same cricket team as Len Shackleton.

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 Moffat MBE.

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.”

Tom Moffat MBE shares his memories of playing cricket with Len Shackleton - and here's the ball which was presented to him after he caught 5 wickets off Len's bowling.

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.

Tom Moffat MBE shares his memories of playing cricket with Len Shackleton.

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]

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Tom Moffat's cuttings from his days of playing cricket with Len Shackleton.
The ball which was presented to Tom Moffat MBE after he caught five wickets from Len Shackleton's bowling.
A team photo showing Tom Moffat MBE and Len Shackleton.
Len Shackleton in his Sunderland footballing days.
Tom Moffat MBE shares his memories of playing cricket with Len Shackleton.