William (Bill) Quirk R.I.P.

William (Bill) Quirk 1936-2019

It is with great sadness that we learned of the passing of Bill Quirk on Christmas Day after a period of ill-health.For those who knew him, Billy will be missed for his good humour and companionship and for those less well acquainted I should like to share some details of his connection to East Leeds.Following the dissolution of the LICS club at the end of the 1974 season, East Leeds, along with Kirkstall and Gildersome, were one of the key beneficiaries of the dispersal of players; John Mellor and sons, Keith, Neil and Michael, Barry Grant and juniors including David Mathers, Gary Sutcliffe and Kevin Barron all joined East Leeds along with Bill and his 13 year old son, Michael.

Bill’s impact in the 2ndXI was immediate as they topped the table for the first time since 1957 with him picking up 38 wickets at under 10 apiece. This included a couple of 5 fors, but my abiding memory was a spell at Leeds Police when he took 3 for 4 in 11 overs; to say that he was practically unplayable that day is evident from his figures; an economical, almost dancing approach to the wicket, a brisk medium pace with late outswing and a nip either way from the pitch led to the bat being beaten on numerous occasions; this would invariably be followed by either a sniff or a chuckle before hitching his trousers and pacing back to his mark.

Bill moved up to the 1st XI in 1977 as skipper and he took the 1stXI bowling award that year at the age of 41 including a club best of 7-17 against Leeds Police and continued in the senior side until a difference of opinion led to him moving to Great Preston for a couple of years before returning to Pontefract Lane in 1982.

Whilst never professing to any degree of batting skill, Bill was not easy to dislodge and demonstrated this to great effect when he contributed 18 to an exciting and ultimately match winning unbroken 10th wicket stand of 76 with Keith Mellor for the 1st XI against Highbury in 1984; 35 years on; this remains a club record.

Playing regularly up until a heart attack forced “early” retirement at the age of 61, in all 1st and 2nd team matches, Bill took 619 wickets at an average of 15.18 with 5 wicket performances on no less than 33 occasions; only Syd Rich, John Gahan, Denis Steel, Keith Mellor, Alan Bowden and Allan Olbison have taken more wickets for the club.

Bill is amongst a select number of players to have taken 5 wickets in an innings for and against East Leeds and it is perhaps no surprise to learn that he remains the oldest player to have won the Bowling Averages for the 1st XI (aged 47) and 2nd XI (aged 52) and taken 5 wickets in an innings for the 1st XI (aged 52) and 2nd XI (aged 60).

Billy qualified as a coach soon after joining the club and was very active in the development, (and transport) of junior players of the late 1970s; I count myself fortunate to have been a recipient of his attention despite the plethora of bruises arising from his trade mark rib pinch for those who lacked the requisite respect; or because he felt like it….

Bill’s son Michael and grandsons Martin, John, David and Ben all represented the club over the years and it was always a pleasure to see him at the club to watch.

It was never less than fun either playing or just being with Bill.

Our sincere sympathies are extended to Bill’s wife Barbara, children Sharon, Lynne, Michael and Anne and their families at this difficult time.

RIP Bill.

Footnote:-  The funeral will take place at 12.20 on Tuesday January 14th at Lawnswood.