KEITH MOSS rather fell into cricket administration by accident.
“When I was 15-and-a-half years old, I assumed the secretaryship of Fulneck Cricket Club,” he says.
“Most of my pals and I were involved in one way or other, and I think I must have been perceived as a grammar school lad, someone who could do the minutes.
“It wasn’t exactly an onerous job; Fulneck is a small club, and it was just doing little things that needed to be done.
“But that’s how I started in cricket administration.”
That was 70 years ago today – January 6, 1950 – since when Moss has given unbroken service to the game through various positions at Fulneck, Pudsey St Lawrence, Yorkshire County Cricket Club and the Bradford Cricket League.
The highlight was five years as Yorkshire chairman from 1998-2003, during which the club won the County Championship for the first time in 33 years when they took the 2001 title under the captaincy of David Byas.
“I can still see David taking the winning catch at Scarborough,” says Moss. “That was a great, great day and a particular highlight.
“I consider myself incredibly lucky to have had that job; not only did I work with some great people, men who are terrific pals of mine – Bob Platt in particular, Bryan Stott, people like that, but I also met some great people at the other counties.
“From a very tiny village club where I started, to finish up as chairman of Yorkshire, that was beyond my wildest dreams.
“I enjoyed my time at Yorkshire immensely, and I hope that the club continues to thrive.”
Moss, 85, spent 25 happy years at Fulneck before joining Pudsey St Lawrence in the mid-1970s.
He had close family connections with the club – his father played for Pudsey, while his grandfather was one of the trustees when the club bought their Tofts Road ground.
Moss served Pudsey as cricket chairman, club chairman and president and was responsible for attracting many top players such as Test stars Martin Crowe, Mark Greatbatch and John Snow.
He remains Pudsey’s president emeritus – his son, Tony, is club president – and continues to offer wise counsel as president of the Bradford League.
“I still enjoy every minute of it,” says a man who was made an MBE in 2010 for his services to the game.
Moss’s proud connection with Yorkshire CCC also extends to a close friendship with one of Yorkshire and England’s finest sons – Sir Leonard Hutton.
Hutton also grew up in the same Moravian community of Fulneck, Pudsey, and Moss’s grandparents lived next door to the Hutton family.
“My closest friend in Fulneck was Michael Hutton, who was Leonard’s nephew, and we used to use some of the bats that Leonard handed down –fat lot of good that they did me,” says Moss, who jokes that he was “an optimistic off-spinner” during his playing days.
“As time went on, certainly for the last 40 years or so of Leonard’s life, we were very close. We spoke regularly on the phone, and I saw him a lot.
“He went to live down south, of course, but whenever he came up to Yorkshire, it was my job to run him around.
“He even used to come to some of the Fulneck Cricket Club meetings, and afterwards we’d go up to the snooker room and he’d give a virtuoso performance; he was an extremely talented billiards player.”
Moss paid no greater tribute to his dear friend than when he founded the Sir Leonard Hutton 364 Club, which meets once a year at Headingley stadium.
The club honours Hutton’s then world record Test innings of 364 against Australia at The Oval in 1938, which beat Don Bradman’s Ashes record of 334 at Headingley in 1930 – an innings that Hutton watched as a schoolboy.
“I got the idea for the club because, for my sins, I’m probably the only Yorkshireman who’s a member of The Master’s Club at the Oval, which is in memory of Jack Hobbs,” says Moss.
“They meet once a year at the Oval for lunch, and I thought it would be nice to do the same thing for Len.
“So, every year, we have a damn good lunch – the food is superb – and we’ve had some great speakers over the years including Fred Trueman, Tom Graveney, Garfield Sobers, John Major, Jeffrey Archer, and so on.
“You name it, they’ve all been; we probably average 300 people for every lunch.”
In 1988, Moss also co-organised a special gala dinner in Leeds to mark the 50th anniversary of the 364, when Hutton himself was guest of honour.
“I organised it on behalf of Pudsey St Lawrence, and Sidney Fielden on behalf of Yorkshire County Cricket Club,” he says. “The two of us put it together and it was a truly memorable occasion.
“Len played a bit hard to get that day because he categorically refused, in spite of all my protests, to speak at the dinner. ‘No, I’m not going to speak,’ he said.
“In the end, I think he got caught up with the wonderful atmosphere and he did speak and brought the house down at the end, which was the perfect way to finish the evening.”
Also that year, Moss had the remarkable experience of walking out with Hutton on the same Oval ground where he made his great score.
“Donald Trelford, who was then the editor of The Observer, organised a special lunch on the actual date when Leonard broke the record,” says Moss.
“We all met at The Observer headquarters in their boardroom; Len was there, Joe Hardstaff (the non-striker when Hutton beat Bradman’s record), along with people such as Roy Hattersley.
“We went down to The Oval and I had the great pleasure of walking out to the middle with Len on one side of me and Joe Hardstaff on the other.
“It was a memorable experience.”
Moss says that Hutton never boasted or banged on about the 364, which remains the highest individual score by an Englishman in Tests.
“Len didn’t talk a lot about the innings; I never heard him pushing the fact that he got 364 or anything like that.
“In fact, because he was such a great Pudsey man, any opportunity he got he’d turn the conversation to things like, ‘What’s happening in Pudsey?’, and ‘Is so-and-so still alive?’
“He loved the place and the local gossip; he was a Pudsey lad, you see, and you couldn’t take the Pudsey out of the man.”
Now it’s a happy anniversary to another great man of Pudsey, Keith Moss himself.
Seventy years of service – and still going strong.