THE Chronicle organised a once-in-a-lifetime meet-up for a cricket-mad Australian - who is celebrating four years free of cancer by touring the UK - with her sporting icon Dickie Bird.

Visiting Ireland and Scotland first, Sally Anderson, 67, and her husband Max, 68, made the journey down to Yorkshire this week to see the home town of their favourite cricketing hero.

“It’s the trip of a lifetime,” Sally told the Chronicle.

“We flew out of Melbourne and had three days in Singapore to break up the trip.

“We’re in the middle of our five weeks of travel around the UK, which has been amazing.

“Us Aussies seem to have brought the sunshine with us, Max has been in shorts the whole time and refused to put on his jeans.

“But even if it was wet and miserable we would have had a great time.

“After this we’re heading south and going to go through Europe.”

The couple, who are both aged 68, have spent a long time planning this trip as a way of celebrating Sally getting the ‘all clear’ from her doctors.

However, the plans to visit Dickie’s home came from an unexpected conversation.

“I play the game Wordscape online,” she added.

“I’m in a team with a friend, Martyn Blueitt - one time when we were playing I had cricket on in the background and we got talking about it.

“I mentioned that my favourite ever umpire was Dickie and Martyn told me there was a statue near to where he lived.

“As a joke, I told him that it’s a date and I’ll fly over to see him.

“I’ve had four years clear of breast cancer now, so we thought it might be the last time we get to do something like this.

“Every three months I have to catch up with radiologists and oncologists, so we planned this trip between check-ups.

“Last week we were in Scotland and I called Martyn up to tell him we were coming down.

“It’s great to see the statue, but it’s also great to meet up with a friend who I’ve only ever spoken with online.”

Martyn, from Kimberworth in Rotherham, reached out to the Chronicle to inform us of the trip.

From there, contact was made with Dickie as a plan to surprise the couple was formed.

On Wednesday, at an arranged photoshoot at Dickie’s statue, the famous umpire himself appeared to welcome the couple to the town.

“I thought it was a late ‘April Fools’ joke,” Sally said.

“We had absolutely no idea.

“I was blown away - I just ran over, I was so thrilled.

“I would’ve just been happy just to see his statue.”

The group then went out for a cuppa, with Dickie answering all the questions of his star-struck fans.

Dickie said: “It was tremendous.

“There were a few tears shed and it’s been tremendous how they’ve kept it so secret.”