The club is very sorry to announce the untimely death of former player Andy Wood at the age of 58 after a long and courageous battle with illness. Andy was a combative top and middle order left-handed batsman who served both the 1st and 2nd team with aplomb from the late 70’s to 1998 and again from 2002 until his retirement, following an intervening stint at Marple CC where he met his wife Louise.
Initially “Woody” was mainly a bowler, representing a strong 2nd XI under the captaincy of Alan Draper who he greatly admired. He soon developed into more of a batsman, and was secretary of the cricket section at Queensgate, and also became 2nd XI captain, achieving a total of 900 runs in his best season. Woody also went on to be a very good wicket keeper, his athleticism belying his larger frame.
Woody was a popular teammate throughout his time at the club, always the first with a stinging insult and always more than happy to make fun of himself as well as others. His sense of humour was made for the dressing room, and it is to his credit that the friends he made at the club spanned all age groups. Good friend Peter Lawson remarks that if you wanted to find Andy and Peter Babbage on a Saturday night you started at the River Fortune Chinese Restaurant in Cheadle Hulme and if not there you went to the Meghna in Bramhall, who would often stay open until they got there.
Possibly Woody’s most successful years came later in his career, as he adapted from being an attacking player (cheekily nicknaming himself the “Run God”) to one who put a bigger price on his wicket, eventually moving up the order to open the batting in the double winning 2nd XI of 2002 under the captaincy of his great mate Peter Babbage. Prior to this he had made a middle order slot in the 1st XI his own at both Bramhall and Marple, often digging his team out of a hole with his obdurate style reflecting his competitive spirit. He would never give up and relished the battle, something which also became evident in the face of his illness as he suffered countless setbacks but always retained his positivity, thriving off the endless support he received from his friends on Facebook as he regularly updated us on his situation.
Perhaps the strongest memories of Woody for those of us from the generation below him would have been how much he enjoyed the annual BCC tours to Harrogate in the 1990s and early 2000s, almost always being the first to sign up for the trip. It was a chance for us to let our hair down and play a few friendly games of cricket in a much less competitive environment than we were used to. It was here that his sense of fun really came out, and his double act with best friend Ian Bailey kept the rest of us entertained for hours on end. Woody was a big reason why these tours were enjoyable. Peter Babbage remembers sharing a room with him on many of these tours, and then being dragged around the shops in search of replica kits of all sports for which Woody had a passion for collecting (but had to hide from his mother who would not approve of his spending!).
Woody was famously competitive, and his strops when things went badly on the cricket field were often a sight to behold. Nobody ever held these against him, and they were seen as not only a source of amusement to us (and eventually to him!), but as a sign of how much he cared about the club. Nobody loved winning or hated losing more than him, and he was someone you would always want on your side.
This competitiveness did not end on the cricket pitch. Woody was a great all-round sportsman, excelling at football and golf and most notably tennis, which he also represented Queensgate Sports Club at. He was a fine goalkeeper for both Old Stopfordians FC and Brabyns Park FC. Once he had stopped playing cricket, he put his efforts into improving his golf, and played regularly at Mellor Golf Club up until he fell too ill to play, winning at least one competition along the way. Woody would also expertly organise the format and prizes for the cricket club golf weekends we sporadically had, ensuring that there was always an element of challenge to keep him interested!
Woody was a loyal Stockport County fan of some 40 years, and a huge Salford Reds supporter. Another passion that came to Woody in later life was his love of ice hockey and his association with Manchester Phoenix over several years. Andy was appointed as the announcer for the club and a presenter on Phoenix TV, and was clearly very proud of this achievement, and devastated when the club was wound up. On one occasion he was visited (and heckled) by a group of supporters from the cricket club – something he took in great humour. He later had a stint as announcer for the Blackburn Hawks and was also very proud to be asked to perform the announcing duties for Bramhall CC when our First X1 made the quarter finals of the National T20 Competition in 2016.
Woody certainly met his match in his loyal wife Louise, and they shared a great sense of humour and warm nature. I’m sure you will all join us in offering Louise, as well as Andy’s brother Paul, sister-in-law Linda and the rest of the Gill family our condolences at this very sad time, and remember the great times we had with Woody both on and off the cricket field.