By Matloub Husayn Ali Khan
The news of the sad and tragic death of local mechanic and owner of Signpost Garage: Javed Akhtar after a 10 year battle against cancer and only a recent conversation with his brother Mohammed Iqbal outside Firshill School revealed that his condition was deteriorating very rapidly. Our heart-felt condolences go out the family and I unfortunately could not the Funeral at Wincobank Mosque on 3rd June and burial at Shiregreen Cemetery on 4th June due to a serious illness of a service user.
Ironically, I sent a e-mail to Andy Shallice couple of hours prior to his (Javed's) passing away – in connection with “Cricketers in Abbeyfield Park” with his return comments: I did know that you played cricket!
Well, many cricketers in may age group of mid-forties onwards from Asian/Muslim Community – would have welcomed the ‘mainly cricket MUGA’ cricket pitch at Abbeyfield Park in the late 1970's and 1980's. Javed was from this age group and was passionate about cricket & being a mechanic and to some people he was not a naturally gifted cricketer but I remember as being very enthusiastic and the founder member(s) of the “All Stars Firvale Cricket Club/Group” which later merged with and became Pitsmoor Cricket Club.
It was around 1979-81 and the emergence of the Inter-alliance cricket league came into being due the enthusiasm of people like Javed, I got involved in the team as a player (opening bat/general all-rounder) as well the main organiser. We played at Osgathorpe Park because we did not have our own pitch ( below the Crest of the Ridge at Osgathorpe Park – old football ground) so we regularly played here. After this initial phase, from 1982-84 the Council's Education Department's Asian Youth Worker: Mohammed Younis gave his assistance in asking Earl Marshal School to use the indoor sports hall for football and cricket nets and later we had our ‘own’ pitch at Concord Park.
At this home ground many league and cup competitions/tournament were organised and this inspired many to play at a higher level and even Ex-England Devon Malcolm regularly played for Pitsmoor Cricket Club in the Asian Inter-Alliance league. However, Javed Moved away from sport and was interested in making something of his life and went to study at college and gained Motor mechanic qualifications in the motor Vehicle Trade. As I remember, that from around the mid 1990's he opened his garage at Kilton Hill – known as the Signpost Garage. Tragically, around 10 years he was diagnosed with cancer and one of his sons managed the garage during his illness and his brother Mohammed Iqbal is a keen keeping fit and I regularly met him at Pakistan Muslim Centre, where myself and other colleagues managed/organised the the Health & Well-being activities of Meridian Youth & Community Association (MYCA) (formerly known as AYCA – based at Burngreave Vestry Hall up to 1996).
The recent developments of ‘mainly cricket MUGA’ at Abbeyfield Park for cricketers and the will to suceed in sports and business activities is due to the inspiration of the late Javed Akhtar (May Allah (God) Bless your soul – Rest in Peace.