CRICKETING lawyer John Swanney has made a comeback... at 50!
The half-centenarian, who was once on the books of Lancashire, has taken up his bat and gloves after close on two decades in retirement.
John, a partner at Watson Ramsbottom solicitors, recently played his first game for the Great Harwood second XI - marking his return by opening the innings and hitting an impressive 69.
"It was nice to discover I could still take part in a competitive game,'' said John.
There was a small price to be paid - two damaged Achilles tendons - but John is now back fit and most recently hit an unbeaten 38 in a nine-wicket win against Feniscowles.
He decided to retire from the game in the late Eighties after an outstanding career which included successful spells with Accrington and Rawtenstall in the Lancashire League and Cherry Tree in the Ribblesdale League.
He also played as a non-contracted player with the county second string for three seasons.
"In the end I was just too busy to play cricket,'' he says. "But I enjoyed turning out for the odd charity game and I kept in touch by helping to coach the under-11s at Accrington.
"My sons Richard and Patrick play for Rishton and I used to do some work in the nets with them. Importantly, as it has turned out, I did keep myself fit."
In the end it was the Watson Ramsbottom connection that lured him back to the crease.
One of John's solicitor colleagues, Stuart Maher, who plays in the first team at Great Harwood and is also secretary of the club, tempted him to have another go.
Wife Karina - the couple live in Clayton-le-Moors - also gave him the green light with the forthright advice: "Do it while you still can'' so John has decided to take the plunge and sign up for the season.
"I'd like to think I'm giving something back to the club,'' he says, helping the youngsters with coaching and advice. "Experience does count for a lot.''
Born in Accrington, John first played cricket at the age of eight while a pupil at Peel Park School in the town, and then played for Queen Elizabeth's Grammar School, Blackburn, at the same time turning out for the juniors at Accrington CC.
His ability, particularly with the bat, got him noticed and he was selected for Lancashire under-15s and 19s and then the Lancashire Federation before his three seasons playing with Lancashire which coincided with his time as a law student at Sheffield University.
"I don't know how long I'll carry on playing but I'll certainly give it the rest of this season," John says. "I've got to admit that I'm enjoying it and that's the main thing."