Ian Wilson had his status as one of the living legends of local sport confirmed when the King's School's new cricket field was named in his honour.
To mark the occasion, former King's School cricketers from the last 50 years turned up for a series of former pupils’ matches and to cast their eye over the current crop of talent.
Typically Ian 'The Wizzer' Wilson was modest in the glow of praise, "I am flabbergasted and humbled. It's unbelievable." A Cambridge mathematician and Economics graduate, Ian, now 75, arrived at The King's School in 1968, taking over the First Team coach's role in 1972. He held that position for 10 years before stepping aside for his great friend Mark Harbord, working with both the under-15s and under-14s before being asked to return as the First XI umpire.
In 50 years of King's cricket, and well over 1000 matches, Ian has been ever-present guiding the boys through the tactical niceties of the most complex of games.
He said: "Cricket develops the character hugely. It develops team spirit. You have to spend a lot of time with each other all concerned with the joint effort of winning the match."
"Very, very rarely have I come across a player with whom I would not now want to have a pint. The lad who bats seven, fields third man and might bowl a few off spinners is just as important to the team as the superstar, and I have to say in 50 years I haven’t come across any prima donnas. It's that sort of game.
"I can honestly say many of the players, and they were all lads in my time, with girls cricket now blossoming at the school, learned more on the cricket field about life, leadership and team-work than they ever did in the classroom."
There have been some superstars though. None more so than Peter Moores, the former England Cricket Coach now in charge at Nottinghamshire and brother of the current Head of Cricket Steve Moores, a Cheshire player and father to Joe, who at just 13-years-old is already a stalwart of the First Team six years ahead of his time.
Ian continued: "Mark Harbord and I drew up our best XI from our team and you would have to include the record run scorer Kym Graham, an Australian who scored over a 3000 runs in his three seasons. Then there was the great ball player and all rounder Graham Jenion who played rugby for the North of England, batsman Andy Bones, Steve Swindells, spinner Andy James. You would also have to include leg spinner Stuart White, who took a nine for and could easily have had all ten."
The new King’s First team pitch was funded by a significant donation from a former pupil in Ian's tutor group who is now a successful entrepreneur and investor. Only 13 months ago 'The Wilson Cricket Field' was nothing but a ploughed field but now it is a superb cricket wicket, flat, true and sandy coloured, ideal for shot-making but also generating pace, spin and bounce for the bowlers. Ian was the first to thank the grounds staff, Carl, Rick, Alex, Alex and Lenny for this remarkable transformation.
Record run scorer and Sidney-sider Kym Graham said: "I spent a lot of time with Ian out in the middle because I did a lot of batting. He was very wise, chatting to me at the non-striker's end and spotting if I looked a bit ruffled and telling me calmly and quietly to keep going."
"I remember one incident in particular with the future England batsman John Crawley playing at MGS. He stepped on his wicket and tried to claim the wind had blown off the bails. Ian gave him very short shrift and Crawley walked off quickly with his tail between his legs. Ian commanded great respect and wasn't going to suffer any nonsense."
Simon James who captained the side in 1991, added: "Ian was a trail blazer. He, Pete Mathews and Mark Harbord organised our tour of Pakistan in 1989-90. What an adventure! It is a trip all of us will always remember. We didn't win a game, against some top regional teams, but we came back to England and had an unbeaten season, we learned so much on that tour.”
King’s Head of Foundation, Jason Slack, said: "Ian’s devotion to King’s across generations has created a legacy that is still strong today. Cricket is a hugely successful part of our sporting provision as evidenced by our U13 team reaching the final of the National Cup to be played later this week. Important foundations for this enduring significance were laid by Ian."
Current Coach Steve Moores said: “The day was a great tribute to a huge figure in King’s cricketing history. A fantastic teacher, friend and mentor to so many pupils and staff at King’s, Ian’s contribution to the school has been recognised in the best possible way. School cricket will continue to grow and flourish on The Wilson Field.”
One of his former captains, Simon 'Jack' Carter, who did the job for him in the 1979 season, said: "I remember waking early on our two day trip to the Isle of Man and meeting Ian by chance on the beach. It was the first time a teacher had talked to me as if I was his equal, and I am proud to say we have been friends ever since."
To view this News Article