James Stead Brearley:

Jim Brearley was born shortly after the outbreak of the Great War and was almost the last man standing of his generation in Halifax. He outlived his sister and brother and most of his friends like Frank Dixon, Frank Horrocks-Taylor, Geoffrey Morley, and Rod Parkin. He would have been the first to say that he had a good innings — cricketing metaphors were never far away. At the same time he certainly had not had enough of life; given the chance he’d have gladly had another ninety-six years.

Three things dominated his life: his family, his work and his love of sport. He was an enthusiastic and successful player of a number of games as well as being an informed spectator. But he’d much rather play than watch.

Jim was a pupil at Heath Grammar School in the late 1920s whilst Dr Byrde was headmaster. Later he was a governor during the Ron Swale years and both his sons are Heathens. His daughter, for obvious reasons, isn’t. After school he qualified as a chartered accountant with Matthews Brooke Taylor & Co. where he was a partner from the 1950s until the 1980s. Work for him was in many ways a pleasure. He worked hard but in that professional climate so different from today. He knew his clients well. He never let them down. He wasn’t ‘in a meeting’ if you wanted to speak to him. Whilst he never had twenty-eight days holiday a year, or whatever is the norm today, he went home for a cooked lunch, including pudding, virtually every day of his long working life.

He married Betty in 1946 and died days before their sixty-fifth wedding anniversary. Their children grew up happily during the 1950s and 1960s in a Halifax which had more in common with Enid Blyton than Waterloo Road. He loved socialising though he never dominated such occasions. He was generous without being ostentatious. He told his jokes quietly. He rarely complained. He got on with it. Old school.

At Heath he played rugby, cricket and fives. Blessed with natural talent, he excelled in all. He captained the Old Boys at fly-half in 1935, the year the team moved from Peat Pitts, Illingworth, to the current ground at West Vale. In 1938 and 1939 he and Geoff Morley won the North of England Fives Doubles Championship. He enjoyed a successful cricket career with Halifax Cricket Club, and later Halifax Nomads, both as a left arm spinner and competent batsman. At Queens Sports Club he won the Men’s Singles Tennis Championship six times in a row in the 1950s, and then acted as president, treasurer, and auditor for a further 25 years. In middle age he turned to golf at West End Golf Club, where over the years he was able to enjoy many happy days on the fairways. To the extent that golfers do.

Jim Brearley never lost his interest in sport. When told during his last days that Alastair Cook had scored 294 against India, he said quietly: ‘Len Hutton got 364.’ He paused before continuing: ‘And that was against real opposition.’

David Brearley