Devon cricket shocked by death of county club chairman Geoff Evans

Geoff Evans batting for Devon against Staffs at Torquay in 1978


DEVON cricket has been stunned by the death of county club chairman Geoff Evans, who collapsed and died at his Budleigh Salterton home on Tuesday.

Evans, who was 77, had been involved in cricket as a player and administrator for more than 60 years.Geoff Evans

A cricket lover through and through, the night before he died he had been preparing a list of questions for former England cricket captain Mike Brierley, who is talking about his book The Art of Captaincy later this week at the Budleigh Salterton Literary Festival.

Son Greg said: “We found the questions in the printer tray and it is kind of appropriate the last thing he did was cricket related.”

Evans was born in Exeter in 1939 and educated at Hele’s School, where he developed a passion for all sports, particularly cricket and football.

There was football in the winter for St Leonard’s FC and also Alphington, and, from 1953 onwards, cricket with Exeter and Devon and Exmouth CCs.

After a brief stint working for the library service, followed by employment with a licensed trade stocktaker and valuer, Evans joined Heavitree Brewery in 1968.

Evans retired as tied house manager in 2001, which freed up even more time for cricket.

Evans had been Exeter CC treasurer from 1965-69 and club secretary from 1970-1977.

Having played for Devon as a wicketkeeper between 1972-1980, featuring in the side that won the Minor Counties Championship for the first time in 1978, Evans had the ideal background for county administration.

He was appointed assistant secretary to Devon CCC in 1982 and, when Whitstone vicar Ken Warren died unexpectedly in 1986, Evans replaced him as secretary. It was a job he carried out until 2009, when he became county club chairman.

Geoff Evans the footballerAt the time Evans died he had been secretary of the Minor Counties Cricket Association since 2001. With that record of service to the game, no wonder the MCC made him a life-member in 2012.

“That honour meant more to my dad than any MBE for services rendered,” said son Greg.

“MCC give life memberships to Test players who play in 50 Tests, not normally to club cricketers who play in the Minor Counties.

“My dad knew it was a special honour, more so because it was so unusual for someone in his position.

“It meant dad, me and my brother Matt could all go to Lord’s together to watch Test matches from the pavilion – memories we will always treasure.”

Matt said while his father’s death had been unexpected, amidst the sorrow for the family is recognition a life well lived.

“My dad very nearly died seven or eight years go after triple heart-bypass surgery, so the time since has been a bonus,” said Greg.

“He was active right up to the end on cricket business and died having just had his breakfast, sitting in his arm chair overlooking the Otter Mouth, a view he loved so much.

“He hasn’t had to go through a steady decline, years of chronic ill-health or dementia, for which we should all be grateful.”

Geoff married Ruth in October 1966 in Southall, where her family came from.

“They had the reception in the cricket club at nearby at Barnes, which dad had played at on tour with Gentlemen of Devon.

“They would have celebrated their golden wedding anniversary next month.”

Geoff Evans is survived by his wife, sons, Matt and Greg and five granddaughters.

No date has been set for the funeral, which will be at St Peter’s in Budleigh Salterton, which is where the family worship.