Pablo Neruda wrote “Tonight I can write the saddest lines” and I know how he felt because putting pen to paper about the passing of Maurice Haslam is simply heartbreaking.

Maurice died on the morning of 7th October in hospital after complications following chemotherapy treatment that we all hoped was manageable. Whilst he was ill, it was still a great shock to us all as he seemed that he was winning his battle against a diagnosis made only this June.

He was the best of us and the best of friends. He was loved and respected by everyone who met him. As a cricket club it feels like we have lost a limb in Maurice, someone who has played such a pivotal role for such a long time; it is just incredible to think that he will no longer be with us.

It was a privilege to have known him and spent so much time with an unassuming man who drew people towards him effortlessly. He was passionate about many things but Ramsbottom Cricket Club played a special part in his life. 

He was introduced to the club by his hero Peter Philpott and from what I have been told it wasn’t long before Maurice became the heart and soul of the club. After a highly successful playing career, he remained deeply involved with the club turning his hand to anything and becoming a chronicler of the club with his outstanding photography. Along with his great friend Ian Bell, he worked to turn the long room into a place which lovingly portrayed the history of the club. In many ways the long room will be Maurice’s legacy and the affection he had for the club is borne out in the awe that visitors experience when entering it.

Whilst the cricket club was special to Maurice, it came a poor second to his family. He adored his children Sally, Michael and Jonathan and was rightly proud of the people they have become. He doted on his grandchildren who were his life. Central to all this was the love he had for his wife, Marion. Up till the end Maurice still felt her loss keenly. I remember someone once asking him if he’d ever thought of remarrying, his answer was simple “Marion is my wife”. Whilst we will miss Maurice, the loss to his family is unimaginable.

He will be impossible to replace. He was an organiser and a bridge builder. In a highly competitive and hard fought Lancashire League he was held in high esteem by the teams he faced. Indeed, the many lifelong friendships he had with players from teams like Haslingden and Rawtenstall highlights the kind of man he was: there were no petty rivalries just respect for those he had faced during his many years playing for and supporting his cricket club.

There wasn’t a bad bone in Maurice’s body. He had a wicked, understated sense of humour. He didn’t go out of his way to offer his opinions or advice but when he did it was gratefully received. Saturday afternoons at the club and match days won’t be the same.

In the same poem , Neruda writes “love is so short, forgetting is so long” well, we will always love you Maurice and whilst Ramsbottom CC is still in existence, we will never forget you.

John Fox