As an Ards youth and a sporting enthusiast, it was perhaps inevitable that Ian’s Regent House School rugby led to an association with the successful Ards rugby club, and for a time he played at senior level as an effective scrum half. However, his real talent and success found expression in his cricket at The Green.
Ian has been associated with North Down since he was a boy and was another of the Regent House School cricketers to emerge and make a major contribution to the club. At school he played for the 1st XI and had an Ulster Schools trial as a slow bowler. He initially played under Jimmy Boucher for the 3rd XI in 1981 and won the batting cup the following year. It was the start of an illustrious cricket career.
Remarkably he only won the 1st XI bowling cup once, in 1989, with a grand haul of 41 wickets, but he was a frugal bowler who conceded few runs and played a leading part in the 1st XI for almost two decades.
Ian has played for all of the levels within the club on his way to the captaincy of the 1st XI, a position he held for two spells, in 1989/1990 and 1993/1994.
The Irish Senior Cup and NCU Senior Challenge Cups brought him real success and his four wickets for 34 in the semi-final against Carlisle at The Green guaranteed a final at Rathmines against the much fancied Donemana team in 1989 and Ian, after a brilliant two for nine in ten overs, collected the Irish Senior Cup for the first time in the club’s history.
In the 1993 campaign he had some outstanding performances in this competition with three for 23 against Clontarf, three for 25 against Strabane and 55 runs against Bready in the semi-final, that led to a great final performance against Brigade when he bowled his 10 overs and took one for 17. He scored a semi-final century and took four for 40 against Bready at Magheramason in 1994, winning the Man of the Match award, but his 64 runs and four for 40 didn’t save the side from going out of the competition at Ardmore and another MOM award was little compensation.
He also had the distinction of captaining the side in the historic 1994 Senior Challenge Cup final with Lisburn that ended in a tie.
Ian had a peculiar bowling action that looked awkward and prompted some observers to question its legality. He played interprovincial cricket for Ulster Town and recorded figures of five for 79 in a marathon 38 overs spell against Munster in 1992. In the game against South Leinster that same year the square leg umpire Robin Glenn controversially refused to call Ian for throwing after Dublin umpire Brian Carpenter questioned his bowling action. Three years later, in a quarter-final Irish Senior Cup game at Railway Union, Ian was ‘called’ by Dublin umpire Liam Keegan who indicated that he threw his quicker delivery. Ian indicated that he hadn’t bowled any quicker deliveries and when he bowled P O’Brien off the last ball of that over, he was tactfully taken out of the attack. The unorthodox Carser action was never seriously questioned and its legality was more a case of perception than reality.
He was a popular cricketer in NCU circles and toured Zimbabwe in 1995 with the Ulster Grasshoppers, and was captain of the tourists to Cyprus the following year. He finished his Grasshoppers tours with an unforgettable South African trip in 1998 and the following year played the second half of the season on the 2nd XI.
Played occasionally for the 1stXI over the next couple of years as well as captaining the 2ndXI and winning Man of the Match in the Junior Cup Final.
Served a remarkable 18 years as Chairman (1997-2014) overseeing high profile projects such as the clubhouse refurbishment and the construction of the practice facilities and remains a dedicated administrator on the Executive Committee.