Former Somerset and Devon all-rounder Greetham dies aged 80

Chris Greetham on the left in the front row

A FULL sporting life had come to the end with the death of former Somerset and Devon cricketer Chris Greetham.

Greetham, who was 80, died after contracting skin cancer.

As a teenager it was a toss-up between football or cricket. Bristol Rovers missed out in favour of Somerset CCC.Chris Greetham in the nets at Somerset as a young professional

Greetham spent two years in the army during his National Service and won a boxing medal in the ring.

When Greetham finished with cricket in the early 1970s, he concentrated in golf, first as a player and then as an administrator.

Greetham carried on playing golf well into his 70s, latterly as a senior with East Devon GC in East Budleigh.

Greetham was a batting all-rounder with Somerset, who started out in the 2nd XI in 1953 as a 16 year old.

Between 1957 and 1966 he played in 205 First Class games, scoring 6,723 runs which included five centuries and a best of 151 not out against the Combined Services at Taunton in 1959.

Greetham topped 1,000 runs in a season on two occasions, the best being in 1963 when he made 1186.He also took 195 First Class wickets at an average of 28.35 with a career best of seven for 56 against Glamorgan at Swansea in 1962.

Ken Palmer who was a contemporary of Greetham’s at Somerset said: “Chris was a great guy and one of the best.

“He could certainly hit the ball around would have been ideally suited to one-day cricket. If he was about today he would be worth quite a bit of money in the T20 and 50-over competitions. 

“We shared an unbroken fifth wicket partnership of 207 against Middlesex at Lord’s at the end of which Chris made an unbeaten century. It was great because we took control of the game.”

Ken Palmer added: “He used to drive an Austin Healy sport’s car and in the winters he used to work as an extra for the films.”

Greetham had a handyman’s job at Bray Studios in Berkshire and appeared in the 1958 film Camp on Blood Island as a prisoner of war.

Greetham joined Torquay CC in 1967 and played four seasons at the Recreation Ground, the first two as their professional. In 1967 he scored nearly 1,500 runs in 42 games and took 39 wickets including a hat-trick against Haywards Heath.

He topped the 1,000-run mark again in 1968.

Devon persuaded Greetham to appear in Minor Counties cricket in 1968 and he played eight Championship games over the next two seasons. He is last outing, appropriately, was against Somerset at Taunton, where he made his top scored of 92.

Peter Anderson, then a policeman long before he became chief executive of Somerset CCC, played cricket with Greetham for Torquay and Devon.

Anderson said Greetham oozed class in club and Minor Counties cricket.

“He as a superb bat, a real gentleman and very polite on and off the field,” said Anderson.

“I was just a sprog at the time with a lot to learn, but Chris was always interested in the younger players and helped us as much as he could.”

Greetham the golferGreetham gravitated more and more towards golf from the early 1970s, firstly with the Stover club near Newton Abbot, where he was captain in 1976.

His next stop was Exeter Golf and County Club as secretary from 1984 for 10 years, followed by a similar stint at La Moye GC in Jersey.

In retirement Greetham was a regular at open matches all over Devon.

Chris Greetham and wife Wendy would have been married for 54 years later this month. They had two children, son Richard and daughter Charlotte, who in turn have three grandchildren.

The sporting gene has been passed down to grandsons Ben and William Tothill. Rugby player Ben has just signed for Bristol. Cricketer William plays in Somerset’s under-14 side.

Chris Greetham’s funeral will take place at Christ Church, Redhill, Somerset on March 23 at 11.30 am. A reception is booked for the Recreation Ground Sports Centre in Wrington.