Corrie's Colson Smith living the dream with Castleford
He is known to millions as lovable Craig Tinker in Coronation Street, but not so many may be aware that Colson Smith is a big noise in cricket these days.
As director of cricket with Castleford CC, Colson is the figurehead of the champions of Yorkshire after playing his part in the revival of a club who have gone from being relegated in 2016 to being Yorkshire Premier League North champions in 2021 – and also being crowned the best team in the county in a memorable final at Headingley.
Along with chairman David Young, secretary Martin Gibson and first team captain David Wainwright, the actor has plotted a stunning success story.
And Colson was there at Headingley to cheer the team on for the biggest success in the club’s history, saying it has still not quite sunk in.
He told the Express: “It’s been an unbelievable year for the club and I’m really proud of everything that we’ve achieved.
“Back in 2016 when myself and Wainers were first put to the forefront we had been relegated and we decided we had to re-plan everything.
“We kind of said that in five years we think that if we hit all our targets, which we did, we should be competing for the league and as the season got going we began to think we could be challenging this year.
“In our second game we had a great win against York, who are always up there. We won on the last ball of the game and it was probably a game we shouldn’t have won. From then on we just had this knack of winning. We were playing really good cricket as a team.
“We’ve not had a batsman who’s scored 1,000 runs or a bowler who’s taken 60 wickets, we’ve just had team contributions throughout all that has meant that we have just come out on the right side of games.
“In May we sat down and said that we are seriously setting out a priority to make sure we win the league.
“For weeks and weeks it was just about winning matches to win the league. That was kind of it, it was amazing, we’d achieved everything we set out to win.
“It never came into our minds that we would then go on to win the entire play-off pyramid to be crowned champions of Yorkshire. But it just happened. The season we had just continued.
“From the start of the season to winning at Headingley it was just a dream and it couldn’t have been any more perfect.”
Colson has to juggle his responsibilities with Castleford with his day to day acting job as a regular cast member on one of the country’s favourite programmes and recognises that there are divided loyalties from time to time. He said: “It can be quite hard to fit everything in.
”It’s weird because I kind of have two full-time jobs. There are times when all I want to do is concentrate on cricket because it’s completely my passion project.
”When it’s Saturdays in the season I’m constantly getting back from Manchester to watch the cricket or coming back in the middle of the week for meetings and flying back. I do just make it work because it’s the thing that makes me happy.
”The thing I love about going to cricket and Savile Park is that wherever I can be in my week, whatever I can be doing and whenever I get back to Cas I am just Colson.
”I don’t get treated like anybody other than the kid that came down to Cas as a nine-year-old. When I first came to the club I wasn’t famous and now whenever I walk in the door it’s just exactly the same, I don’t get treated any differently and that’s what I love about the place.
”There’s been some times over the years when it’s been weird combining the acting and the cricket.
“I remember one year when I was at the Soap Awards and Wainers hit 116 not out against Stamford Bridge and I was on the red carpet watching the game on Play Cricket. I got a text from Wainers saying ‘you’re welcome, have a good night’.
“No matter what happened at the Soap Awards the fact that Cas had won and Wainers had scored a ton made my night.”
On his role with Castleford Colson explained: “I oversee the cricket. It mainly comes into action with recruitment and planning, both short term and long term future of the club’s cricket. I work with Wainers and the second team captain to make sure they are both happy with how the teams are going to shape up on a Saturday.
“Myself and Wainers will pick the first team together and when the season gets to the back end we talk about what we’d like to see the next year.
“The other thing I do is kind of figurehead the club in terms of getting sponsors in and raising the profile of the club in the local area, in the country and worldwide – we’ve got fans now in Texas and New Zealand and our second main sponsor is a company in Texas that came to Castleford eight years ago and fell in love with us. Now they are a massive supporter of us.
“As director of cricket I’m involved in a little bit of everything I guess.”
Colson has been involved with Castleford CC since he was nine years old and first went to a training session at Savile Park.
“I’d tried to play football and rugby and basically been told by my local teams that it wasn’t for me,” said Colson.
“But going down to Cas after Mick Bourke’s first session he said cricket’s for everybody, we are here every single Tuesday.
“I just kept coming down and I made my best kind of friends, who are best friends now, at the age of nine in Mick’s coaching sessions.
”It was that moment when I really did fall in love with Castleford.
“About the age of 14 or 15 Mick was still secretary of the club and he invited me to be the junior representative on the committee.
“It was that sort of age where my job was gearing up so it was quite clear that I wasn’t going to be a professional cricket player. Being an actor meant that I was getting less and less time to play and train, but I wanted to be involved so I took a lot more interest in how the club was run.
“I watched how Mick and the team did it at that period of time and then in 2016 when the Yorkshire League disbanded the hierarchy of the club stepped down.
“It was at that point that Castleford needed people to take it on or it would have been the end of cricket at Savile Park.
“David Young, who is now chairman, stepped forward and said he was happy to take the club on if Colson would work with me. I said yes and me and David started working together with Martin Gibson – and the three of us are the figureheads of the club.
David is the chairman, Martin the secretary and I’m the director of cricket and between the three of us we make sure that Cas is going to have a cricket club and hopefully a successful cricket club for many years.”
Colson has, of course, also been a part of one of TV’s most successful shows, having now been appearing in Coronation Street for 10 years, growing up on screen in that time.
“It’s a great place to work and I’m very lucky to have got that job at the age of 11 or 12 and just gone with it,” he explained.
“It’s weird because at seven years old you want to be a footballer, at nine you want to be a spy and at 11 you want to be an actor – and then I was an actor.
“It’s all I’ve ever known and I do enjoy acting and working at Corrie.
“But I have other interests that keep me grounded and keep me sane at the same time.
“It is weird that I have literally grown up on television.
“I have learned more than I would in any other work place, going to any school in the world. There’s no place I would have learned more than I’ve learned at Corrie, not a chance.
Colson added: “It is nice to play a character that people like – but sometimes I kind of wish that I could be the baddie.
“I’m very lucky I think that everyone does like Craig and his soft nature and good heart that he’s got.
“I guess at some point in my career I will have to make sure that I play a baddie! Just to prove to myself I can do it.”