Colascuttle, who died aged 95 on 21 June, was a well known figure in Yorkshire cricket, who fulfilled a range of roles over an astonishing 90 years service to the game.
Always short and slight of stature, he was taken to his first match at just five years of age when, with the Headingley Jack Russell terrier indisposed, he was sent through the covers’ drainpipes to clear them of rodents, so assisting in the swift drying of the pitch and playing a key role in allowing play to start on time on Day Three of the match vs Surrey. Wilfred Rhodes then made the most of the conditions to take 8-15 and 9-27 as the Southerners were skittled twice in a session. That clinched the Professional version of the County Championship for Yorkshire with 27 wins in 46 matches, Surrey having won the Amateur version the week before, with 14 wins in 18 matches.
Coalscuttle continued to clear the pipes until he was inadvertently left overnight wedged in during the Roses Match and the fire brigade had to be called the next morning. The Yorkshire club attracted some mild criticism for stopping the 10/6 cost of damages from his farthing per week payment, but Coalscuttle, now 12 years old and very experienced, was happy just to be involved.
After seeing service during the War as a potato peeler behind the lines in North Africa, (for which he was mentioned in despatches) Coalscuttle returned to Yorkshire on demobilisation and assumed the role of kitman with special responsibility for ensuring the jockstraps were freshly talcumed. Fred Trueman was particularly appreciative of Coalscuttle’s work, crediting him as a major influence on his breakthrough 1952 season and lobbying, unsuccessfully, for him to be taken on Len Hutton’s successful 1954-55 Ashes Tour.
Coalscuttle was awarded the OBE for services to players’ hygiene in 1965, later that year leading an MCC committee into dressing room practices which led to the soi disant “Dressing Room Preamble” to the official MCC Coaching Manual 1967.
He fell victim, as so many did, to the bitter in-fighting at Yorkshire in the late 60s, moving to Worcestershire, serving his one year qualification period before officially becoming Kitman at New Road in 1969.
He spent ten happy years there before as he said, “resuming his marriage” as Kitman Emeritus at Yorkshire with a specific responsibility to work with young kitmen at the newly opened Academy at Bradford Park Avenue.
After working with Rod Marsh for a year on kit development and maintenance at the Australian Institute of Sport, he returned to Leeds to step down from day-to-day player responsibilities with a new role as Keeper of the Yorkshire Caps. Well into his 70s, he curated the first exhibition of caps from the Yorkshire Leagues, which toured as far as Scarborough and Barnoldswick in the early 90s. He also wrote the classic textbook, “Caps and Cap Men” still in use today and credited with extending the durability of caps from Manchester to Mumbai.
Coalscuttle was a much sought-after adviser on male underwear and millinery matters as late as 2005 when he was consulted by Michael Vaughan on the right material composition for his first post-hair transplant England cap.
Despite his memoir, “From Todger to Titfer – a Life in Cricket Kits” being shortlisted for Cricket Book of the Year 2008, he ran into financial difficulties late in life when he was forced to auction off his collection acquired over half a century in the game, his full set of jockstraps from the 1948 Invincibles raising £100,000 alone.
He died in his sleep, a contented man whose last words were reputed to be, “Bury me with Len’s box”.
Herbert Coalscuttle b. 19 May 1920 Shitlingthorpe, Yorkshire; d. 21 June 2015 Little Sniffing, Hampshire.