Michael Bourne

MICHAEL Bourne, a champion of cricket in schools and local leagues with a deep passion for the game, as well as being a man of diverse interests away from it, has died without fulfilling two ambitions.

Michael Bourne

He wanted to write a history of the lost cricket grounds of Leeds, and was planning a display of photographs he had taken of forgotten war memorials in Yorkshire churches, to mark the 100th anniversary of the First World War next year.

Mr Bourne, who kept his age a closely guarded secret, had a passionate approach to life and held strong views, and was always challenging the Establishment, especially politicians. He was determined and meticulous, with a sense of humour and a thirst for knowledge.

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One legacy of his devotion to the game is Off the Beaten Track which he wrote with fellow league cricket watchers, Tony Hutton and Brian Senior.

It began as a diary of their cricket watching in 2006, after attending a course at the Cricket Heritage Centre run by Peter Davies, of Huddersfield University, and ended up as a book.

Five hundred copies were printed and quickly sold, but the ultimate accolade came when they discovered a copy in the library at Lord’s.

As Mr Hutton recalled: “He always approached any subject from a different direction to anyone else and his sense of humour always enlivened the proceedings.”

One of his more outlandish ideas was for a cricket roller museum to display all those abandoned in the corners of cricket fields.

Mr Bourne, who was known as Mick, was born in Boston, Lincs, the second of the four children of George and Alice Bourne.

He won a scholarship to Boston Grammar School in 1950, and when he left joined Lincolnshire Constabulary at Cleethorpes. He was later stationed at Mablethorpe where he met Shirley, a local girl, whom he married in 1965.

Two years later they moved to Leeds where he studied history and education as a mature student at the James Graham College of Education, at Farnley, gaining a Leeds University accredited degree. He then taught at St Thomas Aquinas Grammar School, now Cardinal Heenan Catholic High School, and had only one day’s absence through illness in his entire career.

Mr and Mrs Bourne had two children, Richard and Catherine, but in 1980 his wife died aged 35 leaving him to bring them up. They were aged 10 and seven.

In 1991, he took early retirement and began a second career with cricket when his son started playing at Alwoodley Cricket Club. He took up umpiring, coaching and managing the club’s junior sides.

He found it particularly satisfying to see some going on to play at senior level for local clubs.

In 1993 he became Alwoodley’s representative with the Leeds and District Junior Cricket League, joined the committee a year later, then served as League Secretary from 1995 to 2000, organising the 50th anniversary celebration dinner in 1999.

From 1994 to 2000, he was manager of the League’s under- 13s representative team and also acted as manager or assistant manager for the Leeds Junior League’s Joe Lumb team (under- 17s).

His involvement and passion was at club level, always preferring it to county cricket and he was rarely seen at Headingley.

He was a long standing member of the Northern Cricket Society, for which he was the meticulous editor of its annual Booklet from 2009, the latest edition being published shortly before he died.

He was a prolific writer of letters about cricket and for 20 years addressed MPs, members of the House of Lords, government departments and the ECB on topics he believed were damaging to the game.

He was an avid collector of stamps, coins, ephemera, silver button hooks, but most notably had a vast collection of musical autographs. He also had the largest collection in the world of Brock illustrated books.

Classical music was an important part of his life, and he supported Leeds University’s International Concert Series. He also played the violin.

On another sporting front, he once reached the police service national boxing championship finals at the Royal Albert Hall, in London.

Following the death of his wife he was a volunteer at Wheatfields Hospice, Leeds, raising more than £50,000 over 25 years through book sales and auctions. He also supported many other charities which he thought of as a better way of using his money than spending it on clothes for himself.

Mr Bourne created a card game called Cat’s Cradle which was published in 1986 in Card Games for One of the Teach Yourself Book series.

He is survived by his son Richard, daughter Catherine, five grandchildren and his three sisters.