Some sporting nicknames can be amusing, some brutal and others difficult to live up to. For childhood buddies Will Fraine and Hollie Armitage, they are certainly doing a pretty decent job of living up to theirs.
The Yorkshire pair grew up at Huddersfield club Meltham, opened the batting together and won a decent amount of silverware in the process.
“I’m not so sure Hollie will want me to tell you this,” said White Rose men’s batsman Fraine. “But they used to call us Geoffrey and Geraldine Boycott. That’s what we went by.”
Fraine needn’t have worried, with Armitage laughing: “Ah yes, ginger Geraldine!”
“We were both in the Yorkshire pathway system then. It’s a long time ago, but they were good days,” the newly turned Northern Diamonds professional continued.
“That nickname’s actually a good memory for me because maybe a girl mixing in a lads’ team could have been quite awkward then. It’s a bit more common now. But they just treated me as one of the lads. I loved it.
“They got stuck into me the same as anybody else.”
Fraine, 24-years-old, continued: “Those nicknames came from the fact we used to block it loads.
“I was 10 or 11 when I first played there, and Hollie’s a year younger. We played together at under 11s and 13s, and I captained. We won all the local competitions.
“From other sides there was a bit of, ‘Ooh, there’s a girl playing against us’. But they quickly realised she was an absolute gun.
“We also played a bit of second-team cricket together before I moved to Honley at 16 and then went down to Bromsgrove. That was when we lost touch a bit.
“But she’s done really well and progressed her career fantastically.
“I see her mum and dad down at Meltham still and Hollie sometimes when we’re at training.
“We reminisce about the days when she was the slowest person ever between the wickets. She’s not rapid now, but much quicker!”
There has actually been very little crossover between the Yorkshire men’s and women’s senior squads, including the Northern Diamonds, who have only very recently come into existence.
“It’s a shame we can’t overlap more,” said Armitage. “It would be great if we could do that and share experiences with the lads and just get to know each other.
“Obviously myself and Frainey are mates, but I don’t know many of the other lads. I hope it happens more with us being in and around Headingley for longer now that a few of us are professionals.”
Fraine is proud of his own development from his days in the Huddersfield League to playing first-team cricket for his home county. But he is also proud of Armitage’s progression.
“It’s great the way the women’s game is going,” he said. “It’s getting so much more coverage, and Hollie’s doing really well. That she’s professional now is fully deserved.”
Having played in Worcestershire’s system as a teenager, Fraine has a wealth of experience in league cricket having played in the Birmingham League.
And he believes it is a vital breeding ground for any young player determined to catch the eye.
“I started playing in the Meltham second team when I was 12,” he said.
“You get roughed up a bit, but you’re playing against men.
“My dad (Mike) was massive on me playing at that level because sometimes, when you’re playing against schoolboys, you can bully the opposition.
“But you find a lot out about a young lad coming up against some serious senior cricketers – league pros or paid players. Some can be internationals. It teaches you to grow up a bit as well.
“It really helped me to get picked up by a county.
“When I was down in Worcester, I played a bit for the Academy. But I’d started playing in the Birmingham League, and I got two hundreds in three games (for Halesowen in 2014) and got thrown into training with the Worcester Academy.
“And they were all talking about it because no one else had really done that.
“If a young lad scores buckets on a Saturday, it shows me that they’re a real player. If you do something spectacular, you will get noticed.”