By CONRAD SUTCLIFFE
CRICKET umpire Vic Gainey will be properly dressed for any heavenly matches on his celestial fixture list following his death at the age of 71.
Vic was clad from top to bottom in the umpiring gear he wore on the county and local cricket circuit for more than 15 years for his funeral service at the North Devon Crematorium in Barnstaple
Cricket Calypso – the theme tune from Test Match Special – was played as mourners left the crematorium chapel.
David Gainey, Vic’s son, said dressing his cricket-loving father in his white coat was the only way to kit him out for his last appointment.
“It was my idea that dad should be in full umpiring gear from head to toe,” said David.
“There was a spare ball in is pocket, bails, six small pebbles to count the balls and a small beer towel tucked in his belt for wet days, just like when he stood in matches.”
Vic Gainey moved to North Devon in 2001 after selling his electrical business in Hungerford, Berkshire. He had been chairman of the North Hampshire Association of Cricket Officials before moving to North Devon and quickly involved himself in the local scene.
Gary Hudson, the current administrator of the North Devon Cricket League, said Gainey was a popular umpire on the circuit.
“Vic became a go-to umpire as he would go anywhere at anytime to stand in a match,” said Hudson.
“Players liked him as he was not only a good umpire but also an out-and-out gentleman.”
After a couple of years umpiring in North Devon Cricket League and friendly cricket, Gainey joined the Tolchards Devon Cricket League panel of officials. He soon rose to Premier Division level, where he often stood in matches with Jim Lowe from Bideford.
“We doubled up a lot for matches during the 10 or 11 seasons Vic was on the Devon League panel,” said Lowe.
Gainey stepped down from Devon League duty at the end of the 2013 season, but continued standing in North Devon League games for another three years.
Paul Smith, now a Minor Counties umpire himself, said when he played North Devon League cricket for Sandford he was always pleased to see Gainey emerge from the pavilion in is white coat.
“Vic was a regular umpire in our games and what struck me about him was how down to earth he was,” said Smith.
“He was good at engaging with players and earned their respect through his style of umpiring.
“When I started umpiring a took on board much of what Vic did.”
Gainey’s other interests away from cricket were shooting and fishing. He and his late wife Ruth were married for nearly 40 years. He is survived by his son David, step-children and grandchildren.
Following Ruth’s death in 2016 Vic started to experience health problems of his own.