Like all children at school in the 1950’s
I was introduced to cricket. My interest
took me to Axminster Town Cricket Club
where I became scorer in 1959. At that
time Axminster had an extremely strong
team with Gerald and Michael Marsh,
wicketkeeper Martin Leach, the hardhitting
Tony Rockett and all-rounder Phil
After returning to Axminster from working
away, I rekindled my interest in cricket and resumed playing for
Axminster, captaining the team when we hosted a benefit match
for Somerset’s Peter Robinson. The Somerset team included Viv
Richards and a young Ian Botham.
My two sons soon became hooked on cricket and it was suggested
that I should think about coaching. I passed through Level 1,
tutored by Tony Greaves; Level 2, led by Bob Cottam and Level 3 at
Lilleshall, with head coaches, Keith Andrew, Les Lenham, Graham
Saville and Bob Cottam again.
Bob encouraged me to be a Staff Coach in Devon, assisting with
Coach Education courses, which I thoroughly enjoyed. However, I
had started to get involved in Local Government and together with
business commitments, my coaching took a back seat.
Fate then took a turn when I sought a change of career from the
construction industry. A job had emerged at Somerset Cricket Club
for a Cricket Development Officer, which I acquired and kept me
dutifully employed for 16 years. The role had previously been held
by Ed Leverton, who had become a Regional Development Officer.
In my office at Taunton were Peter Robinson, who I had known
from the benefit match at Axminster, former Somerset cricketer
and Devon stalwart, Julian Wyatt and Matt Evans, who had played
in the same Devon youth team as my son. Matt Evans, of course,
became Devon Cricket Development Officer and is now Chief
Executive of Active Devon. I worked under three Chief Executives
at Somerset: Peter Anderson, formerly a cricketer with Devon,
Richard Gould (now Chief Executive of Surrey) and Guy Lavender,
from a Kilmington family and now Chief Executive of MCC.
It was a great joy to work with Cricket Development Officers from
around the country, particularly those from Devon, my home
county: Matt Evans, Stuart Priscott (now Operations Manager for
Chance to Shine) and Current Cricket Development Manager, Matt
Following retirement from Somerset, I still help Axminster Town
Cricket Club where I can. Unfortunately the team now operates in
the lower reaches of the Devon League, although Axminster Ladies
are currently Devon champions. But I have happy memories of
Axminster for whom I played for five decades. Phil Spong played
to a high standard for the club in seven decades – a remarkable
achievement! I also had the privilege of playing with Mark
Richards, an extremely talented young cricketer who played for
Devon, but suffered from injuries. We must also remember our
officials – Les Haynes who umpired for Axminster for many years,
and Ian Pitman, the disabled Axminster scorer, who sadly passed
away last year.
Cricket has been good to me and I hope that I have been able to
put something back – it has been a great lifetime in cricket.
A Lifetime in Cricket