Sporting heroes are not all famous, nor do they all fit the athletic image. Those who affect our lives most are ordinary people making a difference locally, often through voluntary effort.
Maurice Hill, who passed away in his late 70s last week, had until a fairly recent operation walked with a stick. His renewed vigour and mobility made the sad news still more of a shock, particularly for the widower’s relatively young family.
When younger himself, Maurice played sport at county level. He was well known in tennis and badminton circles. But it was behind the scenes where this respected figure made most impact. He was chairman and later president of both South Shore Lawn Tennis Club and Lytham Cricket & Sports Club. Both amenities are renowned for their outstanding grounds and sporting records. Much of their success came from Maurice’s gentle but firm management, his freely given time and business sense.
He was old fashioned in a dependable way, but also welcomed change when for the better. His manner was friendly but retiring. Maurice would speak out when necessary, diplomatically but with genuine concern as well and, often, with amusement.
I was ‘ticked off’ firmly but in friendly, first-name fashion when playing in younger days in unacceptable kit - much to the disapproval of some lady members, who’d ‘bent’ poor Maurice’s ear. I now know such traditions simply show respect for others.
Maurice even addressed me and a pal in the showers with this ‘dressing down’, but also revealed humour rather than pomposity. Later he gave me friendly tips on my play, with lots of encouragement.
Maurice Hill was a successful local employer but his real legacy on the Fylde is the pleasure such sports clubs have given to so many, who grew up enjoying their amenities.
Such facilities only survive because of caring volunteers, who make us all winners.
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