Corporal Roy Kilner

Corporal Roy Kilner

Born. 17th October 1890, Low Valley, Wombwell, Nr Barnsley, South Yorkshire, England.
Died. 5th April 1928, Kendray Hospital, Barnsley.

Aptly described as 'the Friar Tuck' of the Yorkshire team', Roy Kilner can lay claim to being one of the most popular and cherished cricketers ever to wear the white rose cap. With his long chin, merry eyes and cap askew he was a generous, modest character; a man of rare charm and humour.

Life for Kilner began in Wombwell, near Barnsley, England. A nephew of Irving Washington, a stylish left-handed batsman who played 44 matches for Yorkshire, Kilner played for local side Mitchell Main and was in the Yorkshire second team by 1910. His brother Norman was also destined for a career in county cricket, mainly with Warwickshire.

Pre-war, Kilner played four seasons for Yorkshire chiefly as an aggressive left-handed batsman whose favorite strokes were the off-drive and pull. His best season as a batsman was 1913 when he scored 1,586 runs at 34.47, one of ten occasions when he exceeded 1,000 runs during a summer.

The loss of his good friend Major Booth in World War 1 and the death of Alonzo Drake brought new responsibilities for Kilner in the 1920's. He developed into a true all-rounder player for the county. Four times he completed the 'double', with a best of 1,404 runs and 158 wickets in 1923. His nagging bowling with its variations of pace and flight made him a vital component of Yorkshire's Championship winning side of the early 1920's, and in 1924 he was selected as one of Wisden's Five Bowlers of the Year.

Kilner toured Australia in 1924/25 assisting in England's Test victory at Melbourne scoring 74 and taking five for 70 in the match. He also toured West Indies in 1925/26 and in total played nine times for England.

Above all else though, Kilner is best remembered for his enduring sense of fun even during the stern conflict of a Roses encounter:

"We says good morning and after that the only thing we says is - How's That?"

He became one of the most easily recognized county cricketers during the 1920s with his broad round face and solid round appearance. His easy disposition won him friends wherever he went.

Enteric fever claimed him at the age of only 37, contracted during a coaching trip to India in 1927/28. It is estimated that around 100,000 people crowded the streets of Wombwell for Kilner's funeral. Later Wisden wrote:

"Few modern professionals commanded such a measure of esteem and kindly regard from his own immediate colleagues and opponents in the cricket field as did Roy Kilner".

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