FIFTY years ago today Atherton wicketkeeper Terry Halliwell was the toast of the Bolton Association after claiming a record seven victims in an incredible Saturday afternoon’s cricket as the Collieries beat Roe Green.

And to his astonishment the record still stands, having been equalled on three occasions but never bettered.

“I was amazed when I did it that no one had done it before and I’m amazed now that no one has ever beaten it,” said the 77-year-old at his Hope Fold Avenue home in Atherton, which is not much more than a hefty slog from the Higham Park ground where he took his magnificent seven – four catches and three stumpings.

“I’d taken five a time or two but seven... that was some feat at the time and obviously still is.”

“Ted” as he became known on the local sports scene after they got his name wrong in a Sunday newspaper report of another Bolton Association match in which he played a prominent role, was presented with the match ball from the Roe Green game and his Atherton team-mates clubbed together to buy him a bat – both of which he has kept as mementoes of his record-breaking achievement.

In all he played 29 years in the Association – 14 at Atherton Collieries before moving to Edgworth Recs, where he played until he was 44.

He won a string of honours, including the league title twice with Edgworth (1968 and 1969) and the Cross Cup four times – once with Atherton in 1965 and three times with Edgworth (1969, 1972 and 1974).

Proof of his all-round abilities came in not only winning the Association’s wicketkeeping prize twice while at Edgworth (1968 and 1969) but also the batting prize when he batted at number four for Atherton in 1962.

Yet he never played a full season of cricket because he loved football so much – he made his name as an inside forward with Atherton Collieries and briefly for Stockport County – and the beginning and ends of the two seasons overlapped.

Self-taught – he started wicketkeeping wearing his father’s leather “walking out” gloves and later picked up tips from watching television – he was never coached, yet came desperately close to playing for Lancashire, where his boyhood pal Colin Hilton made the grade as a bowler.

“They got me down to Lancashire after I took those seven victims and the coach – a Mr Reddick – told me he couldn’t understand why they’d missed me before,” he recalled.

“But I was 27 and they’d just signed Farokh Engineer... Mr Reddick put me on to Somerset but I sent them my CV and got no reply.

“Even so I did okay ‘fer an owd pit mon’ (he worked as a fitter at Chanters Colliery in Atherton before becoming a window cleaner) “I’d starting playing for the Collieries at 15 and when I first went down it was the first time I’d ever worn wicketkeeping gloves. I thought ‘if you can’t catch a ball with these things on, you shouldn’t be there’. It was so easy after playing on the brickfield at Hag Fold with my dad’s gloves on, keeping wicket to Colin Hilton’s bowling!”

One of local sports great characters, Mr Halliwell recounted his sporting life in a recently-published autobiography – My Bat and Ball – which concludes with a humble acknowledgment to his family and friends: “Thanks to all for an incredible journey.”