Cricket: Huey is still the grand old man of Beechgrove

The evergreen Dougie Huey in action for Brigade earlier this season. He has been in top form with both bat and ball.
The evergreen Dougie Huey in action for Brigade earlier this season. He has been in top form with both bat and ball.

They say if you are good enough you’re old enough, well this works both ways.

Normally that saying applies to a young and up-and-coming sports person - but only a few weeks ago it was the talk at Brigade, as Dougie Huey played in the Beechgrove men’s win over Strabane in the Long’s Supervalu Premiership.

Although 65-years-old, Huey played his part in the victory - running out Strabane professional Tawanda Mupariwa in their win over the champions.

“I was hoping I wouldn’t let myself down, which thankfully it turned out alright and we won the match as well,” he said.

“I enjoyed it and I gave everything I had.

“I was lucky enough too that I ran out the Strabane pro and for me at 65 to run someone out in a Senior One game was great. But you have to let the young people do the running.

“This is my 34th year with Brigade and I started playing cricket when I was 12, so that’s means I have been playing cricket at some type of level for 53 years.

“I have been lucky enough healthwise and the body is still standing up to it. To be honest I didn’t think I would be playing cricket in my 50s let alone in my 60s and to play senior cricket a few weeks ago was just unbelievable.

“I know that the game is going well in the North West area, but I do get worried about the game because a lot of clubs have disappeared, albeit the junior clubs, but a few of the senior clubs, including ourselves at Brigade have been struggling.”

Huey, who has won everything from Senior One titles to North West Senior Cups and All Ireland success, says his longevity in the game is down to where he was born.

“I was probably lucky enough I was born in Donemana and I could play cricket and those two things meant I had a chance,” he said.

“I was 13 playing in the Boys Cup Final at Beechgrove against Brigade. I can remember it like it was yesterday - I was batting number seven and I was second top scorer.

“After winning a couple of boys trophies I then only was unable to play Saturday cricket after the age of 16 because of work, so I played a few evening games before I moved jobs and then moved into Donemana Seconds when I was 17. I would be getting the odd game with the firsts when I was 18, before eventfully getting into the firsts on a regular basis.

“I played against Brigade in the Senior Cup in 1976 at Eglinton and I took six wickets in the second innings and hit the winning runs.

“I think I was made captain of Donemana in ’79 and we won the league, Faughan Valley, Mid Ulster Cup, but the captaincy wasn’t my thing. I’m like a solider, but I’m not a major or a general, so someone else took over.”

Two years later Huey decided to make a change and moved to Beechgrove, where he has been ever since and he has loved every minute of his time at Brigade, where success continued for him and the Waterside men.

“After getting married I commuted to practice and played at Donemana the following year, but with us living in Kilfennan I decided that I was going to make a move and with Brigade relegated I decided to join them,” said Huey.

“We were lucky enough to win the league that year in 1981 and funny that year Donemana got to the Senior Cup Final and I was out helping at the ground and I found that very strange and I had a little bit of regret.

“The All Ireland Cup started in 1982 and I played in the 1984, 87 finals, I was 12th man in the 1993 final and we lost those three, but we won it in 1996 and 1999 and I played in both of those finals.

“The 1996 one was in Leinster and I was told afterwards that I took out their main man, but in the 1999 final I remember coming on in the 39th over and my first ball was hit for three and I thought this could be a long day.

“But I bowled six overs and took three wickets for nine runs and even the boy who won the man of the match that day told me since then that I should have got it and everybody asked me ‘why did I not get man of the match?’ I couldn’t give them an answer.

“The person who picked man of the match was Dermot Monteith and he was a guy who I probably thought was one of the best cricketers Ireland ever had, but before he made his mind up or whatever he asked me what age I was and I told him I was 49, but he shouldn’t have asked me that and everyone in the ground couldn’t understand why I didn’t win the man of the match.

“When I went on to bowl Limavady were 123/3 and ended up with 162 all out.

“I have been playing for Brigade II for quite a few years and I have been sort of being there just to add a bit of experience to the side but playing against Strabane for the firsts brought all the memories back about playing senior cricket.

“I was also lucky away back when I was about 19 or 20 I took 103 wickets in one season. There was 76 of them while playing for Donemana Seconds and the rest were with the firsts, but overall I have played with a lot of top cricketers and I’m still enjoying the game.”