Andrew Milne - a born competitor in Neyland sport

?Andrew Milne  


Around the Boundary Feature:

A recent visitor to his home town of Neyland was Andrew Milne and it was great to see him watching the town’s cricket team play against Saundersfoot because he had been a regular player in his younger days and he was able to renew acquaintance with former team mates and a few old adversaries like this writer, who found him a formidable opponent as an strong batsman and one of the better wicket-keepers in the county.
He and his wife Wendy now live in Bourne, Lincolnshire, midway between Peterborough and Lincoln, and he has been umpiring in the Lincolnshire ECB Premier League, the main league in the county which has the South Lincs and Borders Leagues as its feeders in the national set-up.

?Andrew Milne umpire in Lincolnshire

Lincolnshire Cricket explained

The games start at 11am and are of 50 overs per team and are generally of a good standard - but players are made aware of the fact that poor behaviour will be punished and he enjoys his involvement.
“As well as the league there is also a great deal of interest in the Winkworth Cup, a T20 competition involving all 12 teams in the league who are split into four sections and after a series of round-robin games the semi-finals and finals are played on a bank holiday.
“The match officials are marked out of 30 by the captains in league and cup games and the three top umpires as a result officiate on finals’ day - and I’ve been lucky enough to be involved a few times since I donned the white coat in 2013.
“Of course there is some debate about captains not being fair with their marks but overall it seems to work out - and there is another interesting feature of the game because umpires are chosen to visit leagues in Leicestershire, Northamtonshire, Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire on a reciprocal basis and are marked there, with appropriate suggestions about development as a result.

?Andrew Milne in a Neyland team that won the Harrison-Allen Bowl

The chance to go national

“I’ve found it a great help and worked with lots of good umpires, which I feel has been of help to me in my umpiring. Another development from that system is that umpires can be chosen to go onto a national panel from the top four in the country - although I know it needs a great deal of consistency and commitment over six or seven years at least to make it onto the list.”
When Andrew and Wendy first moved to Lincolnshire in 2002 he was looking for a club to join and his late father-in-law, Phil Hodgson, who played top cricket with Burghley Park, where the international horse trials are held, recommended Barnack, a tiny village team who play in the Cambridgeshire League.
Andrew duly joined and was made very welcome there as a wicketkeeper/batsman until 2010.
“The standard was high and in my time as player and umpire it has been brilliant.”

?Andrew Milne playing for Neyland RFC

Rugby played a major part in life in Neyland . . .

Andrew, who is known to all in his home town as ‘Milly’, says that rugby and football also featured a lot in his younger days.
He was a combative rugby player who never shirked a tackle or backed off confrontation in his time with Neyland for most of his playing days, finishing off with a few campaigns in Llangwm.
“I started out with Neyland Rugby’s junior sides at 11 under Roger Price and at youth we were coached by Billy Hier and John Edwards as we caused an upset in 1983 by beating Whitland 9-8 (who had won the Welsh Youth Cup Final) in our final with players of the calibre of Mike Griffiths, Andrew George and Phil Sutton, to name just a few.”
Then it was into senior rugby alongside fine players like John and Nicky Greggain, Matthew and Andrew Williams, Sean Bellerby, Paul ‘Sledge’ Harries and Richard Incledon - alongside excellent coaching from Govan Johns and Graham ‘Gaga’ Richards.
“We certainly didn’t win much silverware but we were always competitive and no clubs liked playing us - and one rare taste of silverware came in the second-team sevens at The Quins with my pal Michael ‘Peanuts’ Henderson, Paul Charles and Eddie Harding, who had joined us from Milford and had electric pace.

?Andrew Milne enjoyed a spell with Llangwm RFC

. . . And at Llangwm too!

“I thought it would be nice to have a bit of a change before finishing and joined Llangwm, where I was made very welcome and soon settled in.
“I really enjoyed it at Pill Parks alongside genuine characters like Wayne Davies and ‘Gwangie’ Thomas in the back row, plus ‘Blackthorns’ Thomas, ‘Budgie’ and ‘Crutch’ Locke in the front row; and other good players like Michael John and later on Richard Scriven and Lewis Woods. I also took on the role of player/coach in my final year but at 35 I felt I needed a break.

?Andrew Milne part of the Neyland RFC squad who were National Power Finalists

A goal-scoring hero in his short footballing stint - and a villain too!

‘Milly’ took a break from rugby in 1987/88 when some of his footballing pals persuaded him to play full back for Neyland FC and they actually gained promotion into the top echelons of the Pembrokeshire League.
“I played full back because I enjoyed tackling but can stake a claim for the fact that my only goal gained The Nomads promotion as we played our final game at Saundersfoot needing a draw but we trailed 2-1 until late on and I hoofed a ball 45 yards up the slope into a packed penalty area.
“There was a bit of a kerfuffle and the next moment the boys were rushing to congratulate me - because it seemed the ball had somehow gone straight in - and we drew 2-2 to go up!”
But Andrew is always a realist and he admitted it was very much a different kettle of fish in the next campaign because he was being given the total run around by Phil Jones, a very good player.
“He had me running in circles and I so mistimed my tackle that I deposited him into the hedge - and I knew I was getting a red card and it wasn’t long before I was playing rugby in the All Black shirt with the Silver Fern again!”

?Andrew Milne part of a winning Neyland cricket team

Back to cricket – and just one disappointment

Going back to his cricket for a moment, ‘Milly’ would say he has fond memories of his time with Neyland Cricket Club but his major disappointment is the fact that he never played in a Harrison-Allen Bowl Final.
“I was 12th Man in 1983 and also played in NINE semi-finals so it was a bit of a blow - but I did play in two winning DR Morris Finals, both against Haverfordwest, and was part of a team that won the league in 1996.
“I will never forget some of the characters I encountered at the Athletic Ground, like Tommy Jones, Jack Capon, Andrew Smith, Phil Sutton, Russell James and Alan Spence, the best keeper I ever came across. Later on Ian Capon was a sharp bowler to keep wicket too and no list of Neyland characters would be complete without mentioning my good mate Ian Charles!

?Andrew Milne in a young Neyland RFC cup winning team

And finally . . .

Now Andrew and wife Wendy, who played hockey and netball at school and football for Neyland Ladies when they had a team, are safely ensconced in Lincolnshire and have children in Poppy (28) and Rocky (24) as part of their immediate family. They enjoy walking their dogs and Mrs Milne is supportive of Andrew’s umpiring in their locality.
“It is enjoyable to be involved and I have seen some very talented players like Sri Lankan stars  Presanna Jayawardene and Chamara Kapugedera alongside New Zealander Tim McIntosh, who is easily the best I have umpired.
“In three innings he scored two centuries and over 200 for an amazing average - and it was brilliant to see such superb stroke play.”
Talk to Andrew Milne for a short while and his enthusiasm for his umpiring shines through but it is also good to report that his affection for his own sporting life in the Neyland area is still very strong - and we were delighted to chat to him for our ‘Around The Boundary’ series.
We always found him a competitive cricketing opponent but someone who never gave less than 100% - and still have the utmost respect for ‘Milly’ after all these years so it was a pleasure to bump into him prior to Neyland’s win over Saundersfoot!