Yorkpress
#RUNForDan.

It was a hugely popular and important social media hashtag just under a fortnight ago, writes Graham Hardcastle.

A tribute to the late Dan Woods, a former captain at York Cricket Club who lost his battle against cancer in early March.

Hundreds of team-mates, opponents, cricket lovers and also those who knew the late 32-year-old from his job as a teacher joined to either run, walk or cycle 5km in a bid to raise money for the Magnolia Centre at York.

The Centre provide support for cancer patients, including Woods having been diagnosed with an oesophageal tumour in the winter of 2018/19.

The likes of former York team-mates Jonny Tattersall, Ben Coad, Finlay Bean and Jack Leaning all joined in to provide a strong Yorkshire County Cricket Club presence, as did director of cricket Martyn Moxon alongside his son Jonny.

The poignant idea was that all who took part would do so in cricket whites on what would have been the first day of the Yorkshire Premier League North campaign.

“It was quite emotional actually on Saturday after we’d finished running, seeing everyone else posting their pictures,” said Tattersall, a team-mate of Woods’ last season.

“He was such a lovely guy who would do anything for you. I’d played a lot of cricket against him and didn’t know him too well before he got me to go and play at York (ahead of the 2018 season).

“I then played a few games with him and met up with him a couple of times, and he was a great bloke.

“It was such a sad ending because he was so young. Life can be cruel at times.

“It said a lot about him as a person, not just a cricketer, that so many joined in.

“He worked as a teacher, and there were a lot of kids and families from his school who ran it as well.

“He had an impact on a lot of people.

“It was such a lovely thing that so many turned out in the way they did to do their little bit to support his wife Heather and the family.

“It’s such a tough thing they’re going through.

“Hopefully there’s been a lot of money raised for the Magnolia Centre in York, a place which was really good for Dan when he was going through his cancer treatment.”

As things stand, just short of £20,000 has been raised in memory of a cricketer who called Hyde in Cheshire home before his move across the Pennines.

£5,000 was the original aim.

A left-arm spinner, Woods first played for York in 2009 and went on to claim 687 first-team wickets.

For Hyde, he struck 204 times, while he also played Minor Counties cricket for Cheshire between 2006 and 2018, taking 308 wickets.

He also played 15 times in second XI county cricket for Lancashire, Kent, Northamptonshire and the MCC Universities.

“He was top drawer with the ball,” said Tattersall.

“He used to do pretty much everything with the ball.

“He would beat people through the air with his flight and drop.

“He also had a quick arm, so he managed to deceive a lot of batsmen in that way.

“Playing at York, where they’d rack up a load of runs, it meant he could come on and tie teams down.

“Him and Tom Pringle, who bowls his leg-spin, made a formidable partnership.

“They were key to York’s success over many years.”

Despite his cancer diagnosis, Woods was able to continue playing for York last season, taking five wickets during the final game of the summer against Scarborough at North Marine Road.

“When it first came about, I was really shocked to hear about someone so young getting an illness like that,” added Tattersall.

“But he was always so positive.

“He believed that if he could be mentally positive, it would have a physical impact on his body.

“He was really good mates with (current York captain) Duncan Snell, who is a personal trainer.

“They were in the gym together a lot.

“It wasn’t easy given he was going through chemotherapy, but he was as fit and strong as he could be.

“It enabled him to get out and play a bit of cricket.

“He wasn’t doing things that were too strenuous.

“He was just running in off seven yards and turning his arm over.

“He didn’t bat and usually stood at slip in the field.

“But I guess you could almost say in a good way that it was a fitting end that he got a five-for in his last game at Scarborough last season.

“That was what he was like as a cricketer, such a fierce competitor.

“Getting back out on the field gave him a purpose.

“He wanted to play with his mates who he got on so well with at York.

“I’m sure doing that kept him going mentally through quite a lot of it all.”

To donate to the #RunForDan Magnolia Centre cause, visit: www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/magnolia-york

Also, a close friend of Dan’s, Lee Dixon, is running 5km every day in 2020 in his memory and in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support.

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