Wallasey vow to honour Kevin McCullagh
Friday 22nd August 2003

Mike Beaver has vowed his Wallasey team will play out the rest of the season in a manner befitting the memory of Kevin McCullagh.

Speaking for the first time of the effect Kevin's death has had on him, the players, the club, and local cricket generally, Beaver said: "It is difficult to know how people are going to react to it. I don't even know how I am going to feel. We will go out to play properly and conduct ourselves in a proper manner - that's how he would want it.

"Some people might think 'what's the point of it?', but I know we will play the way Kevin would play. not about winning or losing. It's about how we perform."

(Cricket was stunned by the Wallasey wicketkeeper's death shortly after collapsing during a Liverpool Echo Knockout match at New Brighton last Friday. His funeral was held today in Wallasey with an estimated 700 people attending.)

Beaver, who led his side to the Liverpool Competition title last season, said: "I don't subscribe to the view of winning something for Kevin. Sport is not like that. You don't have a divine right to win things."

He went on: "The feeling in the camp is one of devastation. It's hit home because of Kevin's profile. The feeling is one of great loss - to the whole league. We've not just lost a teammate, but he was such a great bloke, and we all feel for Kevin's family. But we have to bounce back it. It's not the getting knocked down, it's how you get back up."

Wallasey have three games this weekend. Ironically, the Premier League game on Bank Holiday Monday is at New Brighton.

"That will be quite hard," Beaver admitted, but he added: "The support we have received from all the other clubs has been superb. It's a measure of the popularity of Kevin and the standing he had in local cricket."

Bootle skipper Ian Cockbain, for whom McCullagh played for four seasons (1989-1992) and who are battling with Wallasey for this season's championship, also paid his tribute.

"He was always first there at games, always immaculate and a credit to himself and the way he played for Bootle. He played hard and was a real winner. It was a pleasure to play with him and we became great friends. He was the finest wicket-keeper I have ever played with outside the First Class game.

"We tend to get a little bit carried away at times because we are very competitive people, but when this happens it brings it into perspective."