Mollie Staines, who created history in 1977 by being elected to the general committee of Yorkshire County Cricket Club, has died at the age of 89.
In winning a ballot for the vacant seat in Dewsbury district, Miss Staines ended 114 years of all-male membership of the committee.
Having secured a comfortable win against two male candidates, Mollie commented: “I am just about beginning to realise that it is quite an achievement to have made Yorkshire cricket history. I am up in the air about it all, but I’ll soon come down to earth and start doing whatever I can to help improve Yorkshire cricket.”
Mollie was as good as her word and she gave stalwart service on the committee until 1984 when she lost her seat to Philip Akroyd.
Born in Savile Town, Mollie lived nearly all her life in the family home until moving to Fieldhead Court Care Home at Thornhill, Dewsbury. She died in hospital over the weekend of October 24-25.
Her love of Yorkshire CCC began over 73 years ago when she went with a friend to Bradford Park Avenue where Yorkshire were playing Gloucestershire on August 11, 1947.
The following winter her father bought her junior membership of Yorkshire for 10s. 6d and he always said that it was the best money he had ever spent on her!
In those days, Yorkshire’s annual general meeting was held mid-week in January and Mollie wrote regularly to the newspapers pointing out that few members were able to attend because of work and that Saturday would be more suitable.
She continued to campaign and in 1967 she collected 100 signatures on a petition to change the day and time of the agm and presented it to Yorkshire secretary, John Nash. Two years later, on Saturday, January 27, at noon, the agm took place in the Grand Hotel at Sheffield and was attended by about 250 members. Mollie always considered it was the best thing she ever did.
At the 2008 agm at Headingley, Mollie found herself one of the first three recipients of The President’s Medal which continues to be awarded for outstanding service to Yorkshire County Cricket Club, the other two that year being Geoff Holmes and Vivien Stone who ran the second hand bookstall on the ground.
But, perhaps most important of all to Mollie, was the affection in which she was held down the years by scores of young Yorkshire players who went on to become household names.
Mollie followed their progress from their earliest days in the second team and was known to them as “Auntie Mollie”. She became very close to many of them, particularly fast bowler, Steve Oldham, who went on to become Yorkshire’s cricket manager.
Yorkshire coach and former first team captain, Andrew Gale, paid a moving tribute to Mollie.
“She was very supportive of us all, particularly when we were young players at The Academy and in the Second XI and she travelled far and wide to watch us play,” he said. “She would walk round the boundary edge and have a good chat to us and we were all very fond of her.
“Once when she was unwell in the early 20s, I took some flowers and a card from the Academy lads to her home and she was really made up by it. She always sent us Christmas cards and would write letters when we had done well and wish us all the best. She is a sad loss to us all and Yorkshire have lost one of their best supporters.”
Yorkshire President, Geoff Cope, who also grew up knowing Mollie, said: “It is always sad when you lose one of your keenest members and Mollie gave an awful lot to the Club, its players and to local cricket.
“From the lads’ point of view she was always there at their benefit matches and helping to carry the buckets or assisting in other ways. She was a true friend to many and a loyal member of Yorkshire County Cricket Club.”
Liz Neto, PA to Yorkshire chief executive, Mark Arthur, recalled: “When Mollie hung up her whites we wanted to make a fuss of her but she declined, so I got a hamper and filled it with lots of treats and asked Ian Dews to take it to her. She was really chuffed. She will be missed as people across the board were genuinely fond of her.”
In her younger days, Mollie attended Bingley Teacher Training College and went on to become a junior school teacher in Batley and Dewsbury. She was speaker secretary for the now defunct Heavy Woollen Cricket Society and regularly attended meetings of the Northern and Wombwell societies.