Ahead of Sunday's Memorial Day as i will not be attending because of my daughters birthday i just wished to pass on my best regards and i hope the day is a great success and enjoyed by all.
Whilst appreciating that there are speeches arranged for all four of the former NTCC stalwarts i wanted to pass on my memories / thoughts relating to each of them especially with regards Peter, Martin and Ace whom i had probably a longer acquaintance with then anyone likely to be present on Sunday.
Firstly going to Peter - anyone who knew him would agree that he was an incredible man. I would have thought his association with firstly Northwood Hills Cricket Club and then NTCC commenced in the late 1950's through to his death several years ago. From my delving i think during his times at both club he had been 2nd XI Captain; Treasurer; Secretary before ending as Social Secretary. Ironically the Chairmanship eluded him. Peter was one of my first Captains after i joined the Club in 1971 and one early memory was of him buying me my first pint of beer after a match at North Mymms. As i was still at school when i started playing - Peter would pick me up and take me home after matches. A Harding associateship with him preceded me as both my father and elder brother had played with Peter in the 60's.. Whilst he loved his cricket Peter was not an outstanding cricketer so as to speak - spending most of his career playing for the 2nd or 3rd XI's as a batsman before finally closing his playing career in 1988.. Whilst not a dashing player he wouldnt throw his wicket away and often opened the innings as he had the ability to stay around and let an innings build around him. He was not a gifted athlete and because of his lack of agility he had the nickname of "tin shins" which originated before my time - whereupon he would often stop the ball with his legs because he couldnt bend down to field the ball - hence the nickname. Peter was one of the nicest persons one could wish to meet and was much respected by all at NTCC and with Jane his wife were permanent features at NTCC in his later life after hanging up his boots. They were always down on a Saturday afternoon to watch the cricket. Their Good Friday lunches - which they started some 25 -30 years ago are part of the NTCC folk-lore and they were major contributors to the Clubs fund raising over many years. Mike Fidler and I will have vivid memories of Peter taking part on a Club sponsored walk one year in hot weather whereupon he promptly collapsed in the lounge afterwards which was a disturbing sight. Fortunately he pulled around after about an hour - but that epitomised his commitment to the club - still attempting the walk to raise funds when in his advancing years. I was lucky enough (if that is the right words) to see Peter with Mike Fidler at his Ickenham home when he was very ill. Despite his suffering he was in fine spirits and we all spent a good hour talking over various things relating to the Club. Sadly that was the last time that either Mike or myself saw him.
Moving on to Martin - the club were indebted to him for a good many years especially when he stopped playing cricket. My memories of Martin revolve around his tireless work as NTCC's Mr Fixit - whether a ground equipment / bar equipment or Clubhouse electrical fault - nothing was to much for him to repair whichemulated from his days working at Kodak in Wealdstone as an engineer. He saved the Club an enormous amount of money by undertaking numerous repairs himself which was highly commendable. I also had countless dealings with Martin in his role as Treasurer - a position which he held for a good many years where his diligence helped keep NTCC's accounts in the black. I have lost count of how many times he would go down to the Club on the Monday morning and count up the bar take from that weekend before going to the local bank and paying in the monies. Memories of Martin on the cricket side of things are relatively sparse as apart from the odd game i would be in a different side as he predominately turned out for the 3rd XI after joining Northwood Hills CC in 1972. In his obituary a few years ago i made reference to his batting ability and the extraordinary number of catches he made in matches.. Again like Peter - Martin by his own admission was not one of the best cricketers but he did give 100% when-ever he played and thoroughly enjoyed his cricket. Even in 3rd XI matches he was extremely competitive and didn't like losing. It must be remembered that for a good many years he was NTCC's official umpire and supported the 1st XI by officiating in scores of matches. His NTCC legacy will also be associated with his bar secretary work and i am sure Neil Furmenger will admit that Martin taught him all he needed to know to run a bar including changing barrels / cleaning of pipes etc.
Alan (Ace) Phillips was an incredible person and i think my memories are included in the obituary tribute i compiled on behalf of the Club in early 2019 and which i have included below. Those people who didnt know him - would not believe the physical restrictions that he suffered from following contracting polio at a young age. Absolutely remarkable man and i am sure either Gerald or your renditions of him on Sunday will pass that on to everyone attending.
Alan Clifford Phillips (16/9/35 - 7/11/18)
Its with great sadness that we have just heard of the passing away of Alan Phillips or “Ace” as he was known to everyone at the cricket club.
Alan’s association with Northwood Town Cricket Club started in 1973 when the present club was formed following the amalgamation of Northwood Hills and Central Northwood cricket clubs. Alan had been a member of the latter club for some years previously.
During his time with Northwood Town Alan fulfilled many roles which included the occasional donning of whites and playing for predominately the 3rd or 4th XI’s in the 70’s and 80’s when the club was ever struggling to make up a team.
In playing in a match – Alan showed great courage and determination because being born with cerebral palsy he had always been restricted through the ensuing physical affects to run and even walk in a normal manner.
Despite this physical handicap Alan
loved playing cricket and whilst as a left-hand batsman did not have the flair of the likes of a David Gower – he never gave his wicket away cheaply showing an extreme doggedness when batting. Those who played with him would not only remember his huffing and puffing whilst running between the wickets but also the perpetual need for him to reposition his glasses on the bridge of his nose after every run he made. Alan would occasionally turn his arm over to bowl off breaks if the need arose in a game and he was well known for adopting a fearless position close to the bat when fielding and often being hit. On this happening he would just have a great laugh and keep smiling and stay in the same position.
Alan was also a regular member of the Northwood Town famous cricket tours to Somerset in the 1970’s.
When Alan finally hung up his boots in the 80’s his contribution to the club turned to other areas which included helping for many years on groundsman duties when he would be seen happily sitting on the roller and rolling the main square at the club. He was a very practical man and therefore often lended his hand to repairing any of the ground and clubhouse bar equipment when needed.
Alan will be most remembered though by those associated with the club since the 1990’s with his help and assistance with the Northwood Town Colt section at that time. This was a period when the cricket club first engaged in having a Colts section to “bring through and teach” both children of playing members and other local teenager’s the fundamentals of cricket in the aim of ensuring the cricket clubs future. Alan was a committed member of the Colts section and would be seen at most of the training sessions and Colts matches including on many occasions providing a taxi service for some of the players to take them to away matches.
Again, those who remember Alan will not forget seeing him sitting at the bar in the clubhouse having his pint of bitter and smoking (when indoor smoking was allowed) his passionate Hamlet cigar and sharing many a cricket story with anyone who was around. He was a regular attendee to any social event held at the club and greatly enjoyed joining in with any singing at musical evenings hosted by Mike Fidler.
Unfortunately, in the last 10-15 years Alan’s association with the cricket club became less and less - in part because of the previously mentioned physical restrictions meant he found it very difficult to combat the stairs up to the first-floor lounge bar and seating area. He would though occasionally drive down and sit outside the pavilion and watch a game of his beloved cricket.
Alan assisted in compiling over 10 years ago a brief history article of the cricket club with Ben Rawson Jones which is still posted under the History tab on the club web site. This not only identifies the Town’s history but also goes back to the original formation of a cricket club playing in Northwood Recreation ground way back in 1937 i.e. Northwood Hills Cricket Club.
Finally Richie Robbins
My first memories of Rich were when I had
the pleasure of playing with him in his first match for NTCC at Old Finchelians when a young Akshay and Veer made their debuts. He hadnt played much cricket that year prior to the match so was a tad unfit for a 25 year old - but he showed great character and i think scored 47 runs and saved us from a defeat - i even had a little partnership with him - before getting out and collapsing by the Club house as he was so knackered. In his short time at NTCC - Richard threw himself at any challenge and whilst enjoying his on field cricket even offered and took up the secretarial position for the Club for several years. He was a larger than life character who was loved by all at the Club - always smiling and ready to have a joke and banter with anyone. I was as shocked as anyone to hear that dreaded news of him contracting leukaemia at such a young age which so sadly he battled against but unfortunately couldnt overcome. I had the pleasure if you could call it that of going to see him a couple of times whilst he was being treated at Hillingdon Hospital - even taking some of my cricket books for him to read to pass the time. His funeral and the Church service at Uxbridge is a memory i will not forget. The sheer number of family / friends / work colleagues and of course NTCC members present illustrated what a popular and loved person he was and his loss with a young wife and children left behind was very sad and shows how cruel life can be for some.
Well thats my memories of 4 remarkable NTCC characters and as i said in my opening lines i hope the day goes well and those attending that didnt have the pleasure of knowing any of the chaps get an insight into who they were and what they did for the Club.