Although born in Lancashire his parents moved to Glossop in Derbyshire shortly after his birth and it was there that he learned his cricket. He was playing for Glossop Cricket Club by 1863, at the age of sixteen and developed into a good wicket-keeper and a servicable right-hand bat at club level.
His debut in first-class cricket was with the Lancashire County Club in 1867 but hehad only appeared for that county four times by the end of 1871.
From 1873 until 1880 he played for Derbyshire forty-nine times in first-class matches. He was a reliable stumper and shortly after his arrival the county dispensed with the use of a long-stop regularly for the first time. He stood up to the wicket against bowlers of the quality of William Mycroft, George Hay and William Hickton.
When he gave up the first-class game as a player he stood as an umpire in first-class matches from 1887 until 1894. He was given the Lancashire v Yorkshire match in August 1893 and Yorkshire protested that he had been born in Lancashire, but only after they had been defeated by 5 runs. He had appeared at Old Trafford as an umpire on previous occasions, the MCC thinking of him as from Derbyshire.
In the 1870s he lived at 30 Mill Town, Glossop, but by the time of the 1881 Census he had moved to Fitzallan Street, where, aged 34 born in Bury, he was living with his wife, Mary Jane aged 35 born in Glossop. They were both described as cotton weavers, as was their 13 year old son Joseph Henry. Their seven year old son James William was still a scholar.
By the time of the 1901 Census he was still living at Fitzalan Street with his wife Mary J. and his 18 year old son George A., all three are cotton weavers. This time Alfort’s place of birth is given as Glossop and his wife's as Bury. Let us hope that it was only the Census taker that got "mixed up."
(Article: Copyright © 2004 Don Ambrose)
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