Robin Haire may not have emerged from a strong cricketing background, but by the mid-Nineties he had established something of a dynasty at North Down, with sons Ryan and Andrew much to the fore, father Sammy a doyen stalwart and wife Jean and mother Margaret on the ladies committee.
Robin graduated through the Boys’ XI and became an outstanding schoolboy cricketer, arguably one of the best ever from Regent House School. He played for Ulster Schools, Irish Schools, Ulster Town Under-19 and toured Canada with Ireland Under-19. At the same time he became an established senior cricketer and benefited greatly from the arrival of Michael Reith and, later, Raman Lamba. When he was appointed 1st XI captain in 1982 he was the youngest skipper in senior cricket and relished the responsibility. He had confidence and maturity beyond his years and, like all great players, an inherent belief in his own ability. He ruffled a few feathers in his early years because of his abrasive and cocky approach, but it was all part of his exuberance and, like a good wine, he matured and mellowed in later years. His graduation as a teenager into the Ulster Town senior interprovincial team was seamless and in 1986 his call-up to the Ireland squad to tour Zimbabwe was the ultimate recognition. He played only three times for Ireland, an appalling reflection of poor selection, but with grit and determination he answered his detractors where it mattered, and over the next 20 years he produced a string of outstanding individual performances that earned him total respect from friend and foe alike.
Robin began his cricket career as a tricky left-arm slow bowler who was also a useful batsman, but he matured into a very sound and focused batsman who could adapt to most situations. He made his senior club debut against Laurelvale at The Green in the Seventies, and although there were high hopes that Robin would become a key player in the team, no one could have predicted the huge contribution he was to make over the next three decades. He won the 1st XI batting award eight times and the bowling award four times. He was a born leader and loved the challenge of captaincy, even when it exposed some frailties in his personality. He demanded 100% commitment on the field but was a warm and outgoing character off it. Over two decades he captained the 1st XI in four spells.
As a player Robin was fiercely competitive and tailor-made for the cut and thrust of cup competition. He led from the front and made his biggest mark as captain when leading North Down to a tremendous 1991 Senior Challenge Cup win over Woodvale, arguably the greatest final of all NCU cup finals. Robin relished every nail-biting finish, although his last ball ‘six’ off Herbie Parkhill to win the semi-final clash against North of Ireland that same year was the ultimate ‘Roy of the Rovers’ sensational finish. Or was it?
Four years later Robin captained North Down to an epic Irish Senior Cup win over Bready by the narrowest one run margin!
When North Down toured Barbados in 1984 Robin was the inspirational tour captain who played the hero’s role in virtually every game. His epic 84 at the famous Wanderers cricket ground to beat the locals was the highlight of the tour and led to long and late celebrations.
But club life wasn’t always plain sailing and when a row developed at the club over the importation of players in the late nineties, Robin opted to play for a short time at Downpatrick. Not surprisingly he won the Challenge Cup once again under the leadership of his old friend Jim Patterson. However, North Down 1st XI was relegated but, to his credit, Robin returned to the fold and became the foundation on which a new group of young players would build and reach levels of cricketing excellence that hadn’t been seen at The Green for 60 years. With the veteran “Da Haire” providing experience and solidarity to the middle order, North Down enjoyed total supremacy in NCU cricket at the turn of the century and it was a very proud father that joined his two sons in the 2001 Senior Challenge Cup win over North of Ireland, in the last cup final to be staged at Ormeau. As a bonus Ryan hit a century, won the Man-of the-Match Award and ran his dad out! However, Robin’s half century in the second innings was every bit as match-winning when the serious questions were asked.
In North Down’s special sesquicentenary year Robin still featured on the 1st XI after three decades at the top in Ulster cricket and although his contribution to the club has been diminishing over the years, he still remains a loyal supporter, is a trustee of the club and has left a great legacy for his sons and grandsons to follow.
Read Edward Liddle's Biography Here
Search the CricketEurope Ireland Statistics for Robin's Full Record Here