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Essex Shield

Tales from the Boundary



The first cricket autograph I got was Gary Sobers.  I started at the top!

The occasion (as I remember - so open to doubt) was an early, if not the first, John Player match at Chelmsford against Notts in 1969.

I've always remembered this as the occasion when Brian ‘Tonker’ Taylor scored 96 and I was sitting just in front of his wife and son.  Research on Cricket Archive, however, shows that Brian scored only 15 but made 95 a year later against Worcestershire.   In this game I saw Tom Graveney live for the one and only time.  Tom stroked a boundary through the covers and departed.  It was his last season in county cricket.

Anyway, the visitors changing room in those days was a green shed at long off/long leg (to a right hand batsman).  It was that shed that I approached with pen in one hand (right, I think) and brand new autograph book in the other.   Completely dumbstruck, I just held these out.  Gary duly signed.  I think my mouth was so dry that I could not even say "Thank You".

Subsequently, Bill Bowes signed my junior member's card and Graham McKenzie a poster - both at the Colchester Garrison ground.  Bill seemed mildly surprised at being recognised.   I had a bit of a chat with Garth, who was playing for Leicester.  He was sitting alongside his team-mate who had the glorious name of John Devereaux Dubricious Pember.  Imagine having to put that on a form!

It must be advantageous for sportsmen to have a short name for autograph purposes.  Ray East must be grateful to his ancestors.  So too Micky Bear, Geoff Smith, Brian Ward.   JK could just sign that.  Imagine though being related to Admiral Sir Reginald Plunkett-Ernle-Erle-Drax!

And then there's the Sri Lankan cricketer that David 'Bumble' Lloyd tells of at

Andrew Appleby