Woodvale Cricket Club has lost a stalwart with the passing of Jackie Gaw, the Club secretary, after a long and brave battle with illness.
Born into a well-known local family in Donaghadee in March 1947, John (Jackie) Gaw moved to North Belfast when he met and married a local girl while in his 20s.
He was a one career man, having worked at Shorts/Bombardier for 52 years in the design and technology department.
Jackie was a latecomer to cricket, his earlier sporting interest being in football, where he played for the 22nd Old Boys.
He was also a better than average golfer at Cliftonville Golf Club.
At Woodvale he worked his way through the ranks, starting on the 4ths team and completing his career in the Firsts.
The pinnacle of his career was a famous six hit off John Elder of Bangor and Ireland, which won an important match for Woodvale.
The ball hit off John Elder into the Ballygomartin Road was a lasting memory and was often talked about – his colleagues would say mostly by Jackie himself – for many years.
His other notable memories at cricket were his terrible running between wickets and subsequent numerous run-outs of his batting partners and a 150-run stand against Lisburn with Colin Spence.
Jackie was secretary at Woodvale, Bar Convener, Entertainments Organiser and was known in the area as ‘Mr Woodvale’.
Stories about Jackie were legion and he leaves very many fond memories around the cricket grounds of Ulster. Visiting teams and officials from all over Ireland were always ensured of a warm welcome and friendly banter from Jackie when they played at Ballygomartin Road. His son Anton followed in his father’s footsteps, playing senior cricket for Woodvale and Downpatrick. Mr Gaw died on July 31 in hospital, and his funeral service, which was largely attended including by those from the sporting community and the Woodvale area generally, took place on August 6 at the Welcome Evangelical Church, Cambrai Street.
The location was an apt one, as the pastor, Jonathan Clarke, had known Jackie for 35 years and had played cricket with him at Woodvale Cricket Club for most of those years.
Tribute was paid by Trevor Davidson, Vice Chair of Woodvale Cricket Club, who said: “He will be sadly missed by all in both the sporting and Woodvale communities and the large attendances at the funeral service and committal at Roselawn bear testament to the regard in which he was held.” MLA William Humphrey, also a member of the club, said that he would remember Jackie Gaw for his razor sharp wit and sense of humour. “We have lost a stalwart member and a real character. Our club will never be the same again,” he said.