25th Mar, 2019

Martin 'Woody' Woodward celebrates 50th season of playing cricket for Droitwich Spa

Craig Gibbons 27th Sep, 2017

DROITWICH Spa rounded off the season by saluting a very impressive half-century by one of its players.

This summer was Martin Woodward’s 50th season with the club and it proved to be another successful one as he helped the second team to win the Worcestershire County League Division Two Second XI title as well as finishing as its leading wicket-taker with 46 dismissals.

Following two summers with Malvern Ramblers, ‘Woody’ joined Spa in 1967 as an opening batsman after being invited by a colleague from the mail order company Kays where he worked for 33 years.

After just one match for the Seconds, Martin was promoted to the Firsts for whom he then became a mainstay of the team which won the Banks & Silvers League and Worcestershire Club Cricket Championship in 1984 and 1987 respectively.

With 1,450 runs, Martin still holds the club record for the most Saturday league runs which came in 1976 when he captained the side and notched his highest score of 125 – one of three centuries he has scored for Droitwich.

During the 1970s, he switched from seam to off-spin bowling and his achievements with the ball including 90 wickets in one season and career-best figures of 6-1 against Bromyard.

Skippering Spa’s Sunday side to Worcestershire County League titles in 2004 and 2005 and runners-up in 2006 provided further highs, whilst the low came when team-mate Mike Wynne was killed after being hit on the head by a ball in 1977 as Martin stood at the non-striker’s end.

After taking early retirement in 2001, Martin had been able to play cricket several times a week during the summer and maintained his form on several overseas tours in the winter months when he also kept fit with regular visits to the gym.

For the past decade, Woody has captained the Worcestershire 60+ team and also represented England Seniors on several occasions.

Next spring, after turning 70, he will be part of their squad for a tour to Australia which will include five test matches.

“Cricket has given me the opportunity to play with and against some great people and provided many fantastic memories, including being picked for an England 50+ team which defeated a West Indian Select XI at the Kensington Oval in Barbados and bowling one over to Sir Vivian Richards in a Pro Am match at New Road,” said Martin.

“I was delighted when he batted back the first ball but not so when he hit the next five for 28.

“I’ve had some great times for Droitwich including winning the league this season and, in Jane, I’m fortunate to have had a very understanding wife for the past 46 years.

“I’m now looking forward to touring Australia and don’t feel like retiring just yet so, as long as I have that desire to play plus my health, I hope to continue pulling on my whites.”

Karl Goddard, Droitwich’s second team captain, organised a tribute night in recognition of the club’s stalwart which was attended by players past and present.

“Woody is a real character both on and off the pitch as all of his team-mates and probably a few of his opponents over the years will testify,” he said.

“He has played every match this season, been pivotal in us winning our league and to finish as the division’s leading wicket-taker is an incredible achievement – one that I hope he will try and emulate next summer.”

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