LETTERS and memorabilia from around 70 years ago have revealed a side of former Yorkshire and England cricket captain, Brian Close, that few people knew. They form the basis of a book by sports writer and former T&A cricket correspondent David Warner.

Just A Few Lines...the unseen letters and memorabilia of Brian Close is a remarkable insight into the early career of one of cricket’s greatest captains and personalities.

Born in Rawdon, Brian and his wife Vivien lived in Baildon. A few weeks after Brian’s death, five years ago, David visited Vivien to see if her husband had left any items which could be of interest to the Yorkshire Cricket Foundation’s museum at Emerald Headingley. To his astonishment he discovered that Vivien had received a treasure chest of letters, photographs, autographs and other memorabilia from the family of Brian’s lifelong friend John Anderson, who died shortly after Brian.

Said David: “Just about everyone with an interest in sport knew of Brian’s legendary bravery and reputation as an inspirational and controversial captain of Yorkshire, Somerset and England. This book shows he was not only a prolific letter writer in his youth but also such an outstanding scholar at Aireborough Grammar School that his headmaster wanted him to try for Oxbridge and study to become a doctor. Brian was so talented at both cricket and football, however, that sport took over and in 1948, his first season with Yorkshire, he completed the rare double of 1,000 first class runs and 100 wickets in addition to becoming England’s youngest Test cricketer at 18. He was a superb footballer, on the professional staff of Leeds United before he played for Yorkshire. He played for Arsenal before Bradford City where he had the knee injury in a match against Port Vale which was to end his soccer career.

“As well as a vivid description of a young sportsman’s career and travels in England, Australia and Pakistan, the book is a social history of its time, with references to Bradford and Leeds in the early 50s. As one of five siblings brought up in the harsh economic times either side of the war Brian was spellbound with all that he saw around him. From a life where every penny counted he was wined, dined and entertained around the world - listening to the Australian Prime Minister’s speech at a reception in Melbourne or watching the Melbourne Cup where he gained his love of horse racing, he quickly realised the world was his oyster.”

Nearer to home, Brian writes entertainingly of his grievance at agreeing to play for Yeadon on a day off from Yorkshire - and getting nothing for it! After being sacked by Arsenal due to a misunderstanding he signed for Bradford City; his debut against Tranmere Rovers on November 1, 1952. A week later he scored in a 2-1 win against Chesterfield but soon after was badly injured in the Port Vale match. He gives a vivid description of a hair-raising drive in a blizzard to the BRI for an operation to remove his right cartilage. He returned briefly to play for the Reserves but, suffering further swelling, quit soccer to focus on cricket.”

* Just A Few Lines, the unseen letters and memorabilia of Brian Close, published by Great Northern Books, £20. Visit gnbooks.co.uk or call (01274) 735056.