TODAY will be of special significance at Westoe’s South Shields ground, for the late Alex Coxon’s daughter Jocelyn Booker is unveiling a plaque in his honour.
Ex-Yorkshire fast bowler Coxon, who began his career in the Huddersfield League with Dalton, became a Durham Senior League legend as one of its very finest professionals, first during eight seasons for Sunderland from 1951 and then a six-year tenure at South Shields.
At the age of 76 in 1992 he returned to the Wood Terrace club – where his daughter Jocelyn was the first lady committee member – to coach the youngsters.
And in his later years until his death four days after his 90th birthday in January, 2006, Alec was a regular at the ground as a keen supporter of both the cricket team and associated Westoe Rugby Club.
Now a newly-built veranda attached to the clubhouse is to be dedicated to him, a commemorative plaque to be unveiled by Jocelyn before the North I League game, appropriately against his home town team of Huddersfield.
Tall, lean and famously belligerent on the field but sociable and gregarious off it, Alec played once for England at Lord’s in 1948 against the Australians and, although his appeal was turned down, always vowed he had the mighty Don Bradman plumb lbw before he had scored!
Disappointed at not being selected for the 1950-51 England tour of Australia, he became the region’s first £1,000-a-year professional and, always a stickler for the highest standards, made an immediate impact, his figures speaking for themselves.
For Sunderland, he took 753 league wickets, including 100 in three seasons, for just 8.73 runs each, as well as scoring 3,764 runs in correct, solid fashion at an average of 34.21. For South Shields, although beyond the age of 40, he added 357 victims (10.12) and 2,027 runs (23.84) to those tallies.
Mr Bill Dodds, chairman of the South Shields and Westoe Club – which incorporates the cricket and rugby, as well as tennis and squash, sections – said: “I can think of no other person in the last 50 years who commanded more admiration, awe and respect
“He was a consummate cricket professional and later, as an ardent and unforgiving spectator at both games, expected nothing less from today’s players – and they knew it!”
Rugby Club chairman John Tighe said: “Alec was a colourful character with very decided views on everything. Popular with players, officials and supporters alike, he followed the First team everywhere and came to be regarded as something of a mascot.”
Huddersfield’s Extra C team certainly can boast a wealth of worldly experience, and two men who can boast it more than many are John Ibbotson and Jack Thomas, who both turned out for the Vets team last week, despite both having now passed the 60 years of age landmark.
Second rower Ibbotson and Thomas, who is described as a utility wing, centre full-back ‘or anywhere else he’s needed,’ both played in the 10-10 tie with Wath-on-Dearne at Lockwood Park.
The Extra C’s annual dinner is on May 30 in the club’s banquet suite. Any former players or fans interested should contact Sean Sykes for a ticket, on 07775 991972.
At the club’s annual dinner, the principal speakers were Yorkshire RFU presidentGordon Brown, and Dave Ellis, who is the defensive coach for the French Rugby Union team.
Huddersfield club president Alan Ibberson proposed a toast to the club, while first team threequarter Lee Paxman responded on behalf of the First XV.