Waringstown Cricket Club stalwart Roy Harrison has been awarded an MBE in the New Year honours list.
Roy, who has devoted his entire sporting life to the village club, won the award for voluntary service to cricket in Northern Ireland.
“I’m thrilled to receive this honour,” said 76-year-old Roy. “It was totally unexpected and a great surprise.
“It is not only an honour for me, but for Waringstown Cricket Club and cricket as a whole.”
Roy had to play a long innings with his award secret before he was finally caught out on Wednesday.
“I got a letter in November to say I was on the New Year honours list but was sworn to secrecy. I could not tell anyone. My wife Muriel knew of course, but none of my friends of family heard about it. It was hard to keep quiet about it but we managed it.”
Roy broke into the Waringstown team in 1955, the eldest of four Harrison brothers who were to go on and help steer the club to years of success.
“I was 15 at the time when I played for the first team and still at Lurgan College,” recalled Roy who went on to win every honour in the game.
His last game for the senior team was in 1984, he played on with the Seconds and Thirds until 1992, a playing career which lasted 37 years.
His love of cricket and indeed Waringstown all stems from his father Jim who had all of his boys up at the club from an early age. “I think I was about 5 when I first went to the club and have been there ever since.”
Roy takes huge satisfaction in seeing how the club and the facilities have changed over the years. “It’s brilliant to go up on Monday night in the summer and see up to 100 kids playing on the green,” added Roy.
“The facilities now are superb. I remember when I started we did not have even the basics. No running water, no electric and no phone. But even without all of those we still enjoyed it and I had a wonderful career.”
He was chairman of the club up until a few years ago and has held top posts with both the NCU and Cricket Ireland. Now he is chairman of the grounds committee and within a few weeks he will be getting set to prepare The Lawn for another competitive season.
The new clubhouse at the ground, which he officially opened in 2000, was named in his honour in 2009 and is known as the Roy Harrison Pavilion.
They say behind every good man there is a good woman. “I have had wonderful support over the years from my wife Muriel and she is very much part of this award too. Hopefully we will get a chance to go London and the Palace. Sometimes the honours are given out in Hillsborough so we will have to wait and see. We are on standby at the minute. You get five weeks notice and it will happen within seven months. Muriel assures me that is enough time to pick her new dress for the occasion.”
How will Roy celebrate his MBE? “Maybe a glass of wine,” concluded the man they call ‘Snow’ around the village.
Roy also won three international caps.