Quite simply Steve Whitwam is a Huddersfield Cricket League legend.
Australian-born Steve, 39, has taken a record 1,000 wickets and has amassed 20,000 runs, the only man in the league’s history to reach that remarkable figure.
Steve’s best day in cricket came in 2009 when he won the Sykes Cup with Golcar. It was an historic day for the club as they beat Elland to clinch the silverware. It’s a day Steve remembers with pride.
He recalled: “That was certainly my best day in cricket. With my mum and dad being there too it was perfect. That day means more to me than the individual stats because we won it as a team and I won it with Golcar and with my best mates. It was a special day, there were 1,500 people there – and 90% of them were from Golcar.”
On his individual records Steve said: ‘I’m very proud of my achievements. To get the record number of runs for the league is just amazing. To think how many players have played in the league over its 130-year history is just fantastic.
“Also to get the wickets I have is unbelievable. Again there have been some amazing bowlers that haven’t managed to achieve what I’ve done.”
A left-handed batsman and right-arm off-spin bowler, Steve learnt his trade in probably the most competitive cricketing country on the planet – Australia.
Growing up in Melbourne, Steve remembers the moment he moved over to England and to Golcar aged 13. His parents Ron, now 83, and the late Joan were originally from Golcar. While it was a home-coming for his mum and dad, it was all new to Aussie teen Steve.
Dad Ron soon set him up in the junior section at Golcar. Steve insists this played a huge part in him being able to settle into life in England so quickly.
On moving to England Steve said: “I grew up in Australia until the age of 13. My parents had gone out there for a trip and ended up staying. However they are Golcar people. My dad was always a cricketer although he’d probably tell you he wasn’t that great. He played for Golcar when he was younger.
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“I have pictures of me being very young with a cricket bat in my hand. Cricket was always going to be the sport for me and living in Melbourne it was one of the main sports.
“All my other family are English and that’s why mum and dad wanted to move back to be closer to home. So coming over as a 13-year-old was like being on a big adventure really. I remember my first day of school thinking: ‘Oh my god, who do I speak to and how do I make friends?’
“At that time cricket definitely helped. With being good at it, one of the first things my dad did was enrol me into the Golcar Juniors set up. I quickly made friends and so I really think that helped me. That translated into school, and so I quite quickly settled to life in England.
“The junior cricket set up is so competitive over there and it’s better than here. One major difference is that in Australia all the kids wear helmets to protect them. However here at the time it didn’t happen and so for my first game I walked out with a helmet on and all the parents were like: ‘Why is he wearing a helmet?'”
Steve settled in Golcar and now has a family of his own. He and his wife Emily, 35, have a three-year-old daughter Willow.
“The thing with Golcar is that we are like a big family,” said Steve. “My wife and daughter watch me play and they get to mingle with other families which is amazing.”
Steve was talented from a young age and followed his father in playing for Golcar.
Having risen through the junior section Steve was soon proving himself in the first team. After a year or two at Golcar he signed for Premiership club Scholes.
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On that time in his career he said: “I broke through to the first team at about 15-years-old. I started to make an impact at 16 and by 17 I’d hit 1,000 runs and took 50 wickets. That was in the second division for Golcar.
“At the time I was also playing for county side Northants. They wanted me to play Premiership cricket, so I moved to Scholes for four years in 2001. Scholes were the best team in Huddersfield at that time, they had Wasim Jaffer playing for them who had played a number of Test matches for India. So me and Was opened for Scholes.
“We won the league in my first season at Scholes. It was a baptism of fire really as it was tough moving up a division. I ended up just hitting short of 1,000 runs there in my first season and I was just 19.”
After four successful years at Scholes, Steve made the decision to go back to Golcar as they had been promoted to the top division. He also decided to go into the procurement business as he was released from Northants’ county cricket roster.
He said: “After those four years I went back to Golcar as they had just been promoted to the top league. Northants weren’t keeping me on so I decided to go and get a job in procurement and that’s what I have done for the past 20 years.
“I was probably at the worst county possible because at the time Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar were becoming England’s number one spinners and that’s what I did. So I never was going to get in front of those two. I didn’t want to be released from another county and so I just went off to get a job.”
Having now been at Golcar since 2005, Steve also led the team as captain for nine years before passing the role on to Jack McNamara who has done it ever since.
On his teammate and now captain Jack, Steve said: “Jack has played 200 senior games in men’s cricket in Australia. We are talking at a level just below state cricket so the standard is phenomenal.
“I was captain for nine years which I think is too long. I was ready to pass it on when someone came along, when I knew Jack was coming back to us it was a no-brainer. Jack is doing a great job and I had no doubt he would do.”
Steve isn’t thinking of stopping playing and wants to add to his already unbelievable records.
“I haven’t put an age on when I want to stop. I’ll stop when I am not enjoying playing. Golcar is a great club so whilst it might be a bit harder to get out of bed on a Sunday morning I’ll still do it until it gets too hard.”
This season Golcar have made a mixed start in the league but are into the second round of the Sykes Cup. Steve realistically knows that Golcar may not be up there challenging for the Premiership, however he is hoping the club will progress in the cup.
“We are traditionally slow starters at Golcar for some reason,” he said. “We know we may not be up there fighting for the league but we’d love a good cup run and just do as well as we can.”