FRIENDS and team-mates have been remembering former club cricketer and county hockey player Ken Creber, who has died aged 78.
Creber. a Londoner, played club cricket in Devon from the late 1960s until 1986, when he packed away his bat and wicket-keeping gear.
He had two spells with Torquay CC, captaining the 2nd XI in 1984-1985 and a stint with Chudleigh from 1978-1982. He skippered Chudleigh’s 1st XI in 1981.
Creber lived in South Brent and played casually for the village team. If there was no hockey to be played he would play football for Avonwick instead.
Although his first winter sport was hockey, Creber had soccer trials for Millwall before moving to Devon to live and work.
Creber the hockey player appeared for Torbay and also represented Devon. He went on to become a match umpire, rising through the local ranks to officiate at Western Counties the County Championship level.
Creber is remembered by those who played both sports with him as a keen competitor with a strong will to win.
Bill Goodrich, who played hockey with Creber for Torbay and Devon, said: “Ken was brilliant on the left-wing, but was not adverse to cross the ball ‘back-sticks’ if the umpire was not looking.
“I played with him in the Devon side that defeated Dorset to win the South West Championship in the 1970s.
“I have very vivid memories of Ken from his brilliant back-sticks pass, which led to a goal scored by Tim Underhill against Dorset at Queens Park in Paignton.
“Ken also played for an invitation team called the Devon Dumplings, which was made up of players from the main clubs in Plymouth, Exeter and Torbay.
“In his later years he took up umpiring, becoming the original poacher turned game keeper and very unfortunate not to have umpired Internationally.
Goodrich said Creber was a joker off the pitch, never afraid to make a fool of himself.
“I remember ken on a trip to the Hague eating a daffodil in a Dutch-Indonesian restaurant,” said Goodrich.
Tony Watson, another old friend from the umpiring world, said Creber was: “A wonderful colleague to have ‘at the other end’ on a hockey pitch and always great camaraderie in the bar.”
Watson also had a story to tell about Creber clowning around after a match.
“He was great company everywhere,” said Watson. “I particularly remember Ken - in a bar somewhere -playing a metal framed chair with a trumpet mouth-piece he happened to have in his pocket.”
Bill Soper, who played cricket and hockey with Creber, said: “I played cricket with him at Torquay and when he was wicket-keeper and had a stumping opportunity all three stumps were always felled which, strangely, became almost tiresome after the fourth occasion as the castle took longer to rebuild every time.”
Vaughan Hosking, who was a cricket team-mate of Creber’s at Torquay, said there was seldom a dull moment when Ken was around, on or off the field.
“Ken had a great eye with the bat and I remember watching him bat at Paignton where he struck a number of balls on to the nearby station platform, which certainly moved the passengers waiting for their train, said Hosking.
Terry Hughes played cricket with Creber at Chudleigh and felt he was ahead of his time.
“Ken was certainly flamboyant and would have been a hit nowadays in T20 cricket as he was a bit hitter then,” said Hughes.
“I was a young member of the side when Ken came to us and I remember it was quite a coup for a club like Chudleigh to recruit a player from a top side like Torquay.
“He was a practical joker in the dressing room, but a hard worker for the club. A nicer person you could not wish to meet.”
Creeber was educated at the now-defunct Royal Masonic School for Boys in Bushey, Hertfordshire, where he was introduced to hockey and joined the club in Harrow.
Long after moving to Devon to life, Creber retuned to his former school to play in the annual Old Boys’ versus School XI match.
He trained as an electrician and put his skills to use for the clubs he played for and at events such as village fetes, where he would set up a public address system.
Other interests included freemasonry and bell ringing. He rang in the tower at Diptford, where his partner also rang. He had previously been married. He had no children.
Ken Creber’s Funeral will take place on Friday, November 16 (2.15pm) at Diptford Church, near South Brent.