Robin Walsh, October 2020
As the song put it: "You can't have one without the other", and so it is for me with the late Derek and Basil McNamee as I cast my mind back many years. In fact all 65 of them.
I'd just turned 15, the youngest member of a Foyle College school side in Derry whose captain was Derek and the vice captain his younger brother Basil. We may have been much of an age yet their commitment to and love of the game left a lasting impression on me.
Under the unforgettable guidance of coach Curzon Mowbray the brothers led from the front, particularly with the bat although they were no strangers to the ball. They saw to it that for the first time - but not the last - Foyle dominated school cricket. Both were to play for Ulster Schools and Basil was the first Foyle boy to play for the Irish Schools.
The brothers were phenomenal as schoolboy players, both commanding places on their native Donemana side and appearing in two North West cup finals. Not surprisingly the school scorebook, kept meticulously by the late Brigade stalwart Albert "Bap" Moore, would show against Basil's name that rarity in boys' cricket - a century.
But there was more to the brothers than their individual performances. There were the team chats after practice nets and before matches at which the will to win was always paramount. And along with Curzon Mowbray they saw that the objective was achieved while upholding the Spirit of Cricket.
On the field Derek's shrewdness as a captain belied his years and his encouragement individually and collectively was relentless. Both were quick to spot opposition strengths and weaknesses and a whisper in the ear of a bowler by one or other invariably yielded a wicket.
After that 1955 season I was off to Belfast "Inst" with the daunting prospect of meeting a McNamee led Foyle in '56. The game was set for the new Springtown ground which I had helped to baptise the previous year. The weather saw to it the game never started. I told my new found team mates they shouldn't feel too disappointed.
The following year the match was played in Belfast with no Derek or Basil, rather the leadership of Victor Eakin. "Inst" proved the stronger side as Foyle just managed to hold out for a draw: not a result I would have imagined had the brothers not left the old school for Queen's University.
And at Queen's there was unparalleled cricketing success in the university's history as the brothers were pivotable members of the side which won the NCU Senior League for the first and only time.
After Queen's it was the North of Ireland club which Basil was to captain to the Senior Cup in 1969 with Derek by his side. Ironically their victory was over Queen's.
It was at North's Ormeau ground that I was to play my only game against my two friends. It was in the Senior Cup with Ossie Bailie's Ballymena side of the Sixties. And what a game it was with North squeezing home by just one wicket. The game had gone on to the Monday evening and I seem to remember the most convivial late night that followed. The chat was of Foyle College.
Derek was to stay with North as he pursued a successful career to become the chief engineer of Belfast Harbour Commission. Basil was to end his playing days after more than 20 years with Dungannon where he had become a hugely distinguished cardiologist.
The peak of their cricketing careers saw them represent Ulster Town in the old all-Ireland Guinness Cup. And to add to their sporting honours, there were Ulster rugby caps for both of them as they joined forces at CIYMS. You can't have one …
I was to renew my friendship with my fellow old boys in our professional retirements. With Derek it was marvelling at his long hitting at Knock Golf Club before he moved to England in the late 1990s; with Basil it was watching many an international at home and abroad after he became President of Cricket Ireland in 2010.
The conversations always returned to the same subject …