Malcolm Fitzgerald, the man, the cricketer, is retiring after nearly 40 years playing at the Rec. He first played for the old West Chilt CC in 1984 following older brother Alistair and father Michael. When West Chilt and Thakeham merged at the end of 2000, Malcolm was one of the key members of the old WCCC 1st XI league side and was a regular up until 2015 when he became an integral part of the 2s.
The first memories come from long time team mate Matt Hennings:
“End of an era! Always enjoyed playing with Malcolm and would say he was the protagonist ensuring that we always sledged our own teammates with far more vigour and purpose than the oppo! In particular, I remember working together to great effect as a tag team of abuse aimed at James (Chaloner) to make that head drop even further when things weren’t going his way.
In fact when support in the field was required, you could always rely on ridicule and abuse. As a fellow left arm spinner, or should I say slow left armer? (I think the only thing Malcolm has turned in his life was his knee in a nasty skiing accident.), I always had to wait for him to finish his 20 over spell before I got a look in, normally he’d finish with a hat full of wickets and the game over!
One other story I was reminded of by Ned Brown. Former Chairman David Hardisty (professional driving instructor) “borrowed” Malcolm’s brand new MGF driving it up to the old Elephant & Castle pub from the ground. David managed to write it off on the sharp bend 1/4 mile up the road. Malcolm had literally only just got it!
Such a golden time with Bob (Llewellyn), James, Malc, Oli (Knott) etc in the old WCCC days; so many laughs at others’ expense, just how village cricket should be. Hope he puts in an appearance at the club from time to time and can we persuade him to play the odd vets match? I will miss the banter!
His figures speak for themselves, he has been a vital player for the club and a great mate to play alongside over the years! He still calls me “The Vile Vintner” to this day...”
Long time friend, the aforementioned James Chaloner, adds:
“He once got kicked in the shins by a 14 year old female and fell over on the square at Crawley Eagles when he tried to stop her nicking the stumps, which she did, and ran off with them during tea in a league match!
He skippered our side for a number of years (Napoleon style, lots of finger pointing and shouting to get us into position) and was also our fixtures secretary for many years too.
He also was part of our most successful period of league wins in the 2000s and 2010s with Mick (Armstrong), Grant (Morrish), Brian (Chambers), Matt, James and Ned (Brown), Will (Chambers), David (Hardisty), Neil (Miller), Scott and Craig (Pulling), Fordy (Mike Ford), Rupert (Cleaver) etc.. We also won one of the inaugural T20 evening leagues and indoor leagues titles as well, and spent many Sunday evenings in the closed season with Bobby (Llewellyn). We won an Aussie rules indoor league a few times as well. He was part of the team that got the highest score ever against an oppo of 413 v Pulborough in 45 overs.
There were some legendary tours to Holland in the 90s, quite a lot of banter with his brother Alistair with some well known nicknames.
In recent years, some of the best times were had under Captain Matt Goring in the 2nd XI with the Reeves twins, Alfie (Reeves) etc.. We had a real blast for 2-3 years.
He was also a youth coach here for a number of years too.
Will not be the same without him - 30+ years of playing together”.
Club statistician Will Hasler comments: “We have 70 matches listed with Malcolm's name in them in the West Chilt CC Play Cricket website plus 331 for the merged club. He started out like most youth playing any game he could but more recently, it's been league cricket and vets games only as family commitments took over. His first recorded match in Play Cricket was at home to Ansty in May 1986 where the old fella took 6-28 bowling off his longer run of ten paces. Three years later, he took another 6 fer to help bowl Westbourne out for 87 on a Sunday at the Rec. (In true fashion, we then proceeded to subside to 84 all out to lose by three runs...) His best Chilt bowling figures were 8-21 at home to Amberley in a league game in June 1995. There will be many more unrecorded matches. For the merged club, his best return was 7-35 for the 2nds at home to Crawley 2s five years ago in Division 6 West. Nearly 600 wickets from the matches we can see for both club iterations.
Malcolm often contributed with the bat too esp. in his younger days. He hit four fifties for WCCC with a high score of 76* in the abandoned end of season game against Pulborough in Parham Park in 1995. For the merged club, he again batted up the order early on. He hit seven fifties and one ton - 108 in the drawn game in Brighton against Adelaide in 2001”.
Club President Peter Jones reminisces "When I started a Junior system at West Chiltington in 1972 (| think), he along with his brother Alistair, was part of our initial intake. His father, Michael, (who was my predecessor as President) was very proud of his long service to the Club. He has been a very steady spin bowler - I kept wicket for about 25 years and I always looked forward to him being put on to bowl".
As Matt says, we hope he will continue to frequent our pavilions for many summers to come and we can persuade him to play a few more vets games.