Hampshire Cricket History

Leo (Part Five)
October 13, 2016, 2:04 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

In his record-breaking season of 1959, Leo averaged 2.86 victims per match. In 1960 he reached the end of June averaging 2.94 victims but then broke his hand taking a return from ‘Butch’ White and played just one more game all season. In Leo’s place came his eventual successor, Bryan Timms who like Leo, appeared in 17 matches that year and seemed poised replace him as Leo approached 40. 1960 was an unhappy summer, with poor weather and a weak South African side attracting some political protests. Neither Leo nor Hampshire, who slipped to 12th enjoyed it much although there were signs that White could form a strong opening partnership with Shackleton, while Livingstone showed some promise.

What nobody predicted was that Leo would enjoy a last useful season with the bat in 1961 or that Hampshire’s last amateur captain, Colin Ingleby-Mackenzie, would lead his team to the County Championship title for the first time. Leo’s 656 runs came at 22.62 although again he missed a few matches with injury. One of his key innings came in August against Warwickshire at Southampton. The visitors declared on 343-9 and in reply Hampshire slumped to 217-7 before Leo joined Mike Barnard. The latter scored a century and Leo kept him company in a stand of 101 so that Hampshire eventually secured vital points for first innings lead. Warwickshire, perhaps frustrated, collapsed to 20-4 overnight, 125 all out the next day (Shackleton 6-36) and Hampshire won by eight wickets. Unlike 1958, Hampshire kept winning through August – five consecutive Championship victories, including the famous match v Derbyshire at Bournemouth that clinched the title. There is a famous photograph of Ingleby-Mackenzie surrounded by his team, addressing the crowd from the Dean Park balcony and there is Leo smiling out at them, just a few miles from his home.

Leo had one last season in 1962 when he again passed 500 runs and 50 dismissals but Bryan Timms played more towards the end of the year and at the age of 40 Leo effectively retired from first-class cricket. He did return to play one more match in an emergency four years later, against Surrey at Basingstoke. He scored 23 in his only innings and his last victim was Micky Stewart off the bowling of ‘Butch’ White.

From 1963-1969 he coached and played with the Hampshire 2nd XI, helping to bring through cricketers like Trevor Jesty, David Turner and Gordon Greenidge who was in the same side in 1970 when Leo at 48 played his final game down at Bristol. In the first innings he top-scored with 45 but Jack Davey got him for a ‘duck’ in the second knock and Leo retired.

As a member of the 1961 side he was elected a Life Vice President of Hampshire in 2011 and regularly attended reunions and other events at the Ageas Bowl.

Leo was a great friend of John Arlott who said of him “honest as the day and a trier to the last … Know Leo Harrison and you must trust him and like him”. Hampshire cricket folk certainly did – and he will not be forgotten.

5 Comments so far
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It is perhaps worth adding that the 1966 match at Basingstoke was the first there since the war and in playing, Leo became the last player to appear in the Championship for any county, having played before the War. His death leaves Hampshire’s amateur batsman JE Manners as the only pre-war survivor.

Comment by pompeypop

Many thanks Dave for the biography of Leo. Like James below I never saw him play but have always been aware of him as a part of Hampshire’s history.

Comment by Bob Murrell

Cheers Bob

Comment by pompeypop

Dave, thank you for a most informative obituary. Why did the club wait until 2011 to give him Life Vice Presidency?
Jim, London W12

Comment by Jim Thompson

Apologies for delay Jim. Life VPs (as opposed to common or garden ones like me or Jim Davidson (?)) are reserved for the VERY special people, or those that survive them. So, Iris (Charlie) Knott and Sally (Wilfrid) Weld are current Life VPs, plus Rod Bransgrove. Otherwise, the ONLY Life VPs are the surviving members of our two Championship winning teams. We awarded it en bloc to the 1961 side on the 50th anniversary (hence Leo in 2011) and noting we’d lost some by then, brought that down to 40 years in 2013 for the 1973 Champions. I suppose we might next honour Mark’s 1985-1992 guys – although it’s only 31 years since the Oval Sunday League title match. Some of our more notable players, or contributors in later life are Hon Members. All former players have memberships.

Comment by pompeypop

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