Farewell to Lancashire's Public Address Announcer, Matt Proctor
Matt Proctor retires after 27 years behind the microphone
The last day of cricket at home this season was also the last one for Public Address Announcer Matt Proctor, who has retired after 27 seasons behind the microphone.
After the final day at Southport, Ken Grime met up with Matt, for many the ‘Voice of Emirates Old Trafford’.
“Finishing at Southport means things have come full circle in a way,” said Matt, “because it was here at Southport where I started broadcasting as cricket correspondent for Piccadilly Radio in the 1970’s.
“Clive Lloyd hit a six onto the railway just as a coal train went past-so you can tell how long ago it was-and the ball landed in one of the trucks and we were later told finished up in Crewe!
Matt had just finished working at Piccadilly Radio in 1992 and was at a loose end when he got a phone call.
“It was from Rose Fitzgibbon, the Lancashire CCC Secretary,” he recalled. “Amos Lowe, the former Lancashire scorer, had just finished doing the PA, and she wanted to know if I would I like to take it over?
“There have many more memorable moments since then.
“One that does spring readily to mind was the air ambulance landing on the pitch at Emirates Old Trafford earlier this season this year, for instance,” said Matt.
“And close finishes were nearly always memorable, for all manner of reasons. What people probably don’t realise is that you are working until the celebrations start. You can’t just join in!”
“The Championship-winning season of 2011 was incredible. We played all the matches on outgrounds-mainly at Liverpool-and particularly the last one against Hampshire at Aigburth stands out where Simon Kerrigan took nine wickets on the final day.
“It looked as though the last pair, Neil McKenzie and James Tomlinson, were going to hang on. They had batted for about an hour and time was running out, I think there were less than four minutes left and Lancashire had to win to keep their title hopes alive.
“Then Kerrigan got one to bite and lift and McKenzie gloved it and was caught. There were arms and legs and bodies everywhere as the players celebrated and I had no idea who had caught it! I congratulated Glen (Chapple) and the team over the PA on the win but couldn’t give details of the wicket. It was only after the players had come off the field I could ask. Funnily enough the first player I grabbed was Tom Smith and asked “who caught that?” ‘I did!’ he shouted back before running off.
“So that was one memorable moment – there have been so many others.
“Another that comes to mind was the B&H Cup semi-final against Yorkshire in 1996. That game stands out enormously. The frantic finish and the big crowd after rain had forced the match into a second day.
“Peter Martin and Glen Chapple were batting and Martin needed to get two runs off the last ball. He hammered it out towards the boundary and my first reaction was: ‘he’s hit that too quick to get two!’ The pair of them came flying back for the second run and Peter just got back in time.
“For some reason it always seemed to be Peter Martin involved in beating the Yorkies. In the first floodlit game at OT, Yorkshire were winning hands down until Peter took three wickets in four balls to win it.
“Another thing I remember is when we won the Sunday League after beating Hampshire in 1998. We had Queen’s ‘We Are The Champions’ cued up to play. There was no music at matches then, so when I hit ‘play’ after the final ball was bowled, Sky TV’s presenter Charles Colville-who was stood quite close to one of the speakers-jumped out of his skin when we put it out. It was fairly loud too!
“There were a number of experiments during my time. We played classical music before some Championship games, but it didn’t last long. Now it’s come around where there’s music at every one-day game!
“There was also the radio experiment, Lancashire Radio, broadcast from the ground before one-day games which I hosted. That only last two games, mainly due to cost, but the second game never took place because it was abandoned due to rain after the covers had been breached!
“With everything that has gone on today, the good wishes, the messages I’ve received, it’s difficult to think clearly and bring them all to mind. No doubt they will come flooding back over the next few days and weeks.
“Basically I am so amazed and so surprised – almost embarrassed – at the amount of attention I’ve received on my last day here.
“And it ended in a win! I’ve just come out of the dressing room after saying cheerio to them all, and I told them driving over this morning I was thinking all sorts of things. How it would be lovely to finish with a win. Worcestershire must start favourites but it was sunny and maybe the wicket would flatten out.
“So these thoughts go through your mind but to win in the manner they won with Dane Vilas getting his third hundred this season and Josh Bohannon playing brilliantly, that was a fantastic way to go out.”
It will seem strange to hear an unfamiliar voice when the 2019 season comes around, and on behalf of everyone connected with Lancashire Cricket, our thanks and best wishes go to Matt and we hope to see him back at Emirates Old Trafford many times in the future.
“I’m so numbed with all the affection and the appreciation that I’ve had,” said Matt. “It’s something I can show back to everybody at Lancashire, to the Chairman, Chief Executive, players and everybody at the club and to the Members and supporters. They’ve been fantastic.”
So too Matt, have you.