Memories of Frank Mansell - poet and ace cricketer
MENTION of my recent visit to Sheepscombe and then Birdlip Cricket Club has caused readers to ask me if I remember Frank Mansell. Indeed, I do.
Frank was a legendary Sheepscombe bowler, but so much more. He drove a motor bike at great speed, and engaged in astrological forecasting.
He wrote about this for the Stroud News and Journal and had many poems published in local papers.
The poem ‘Battling against Birdlip’ evokes the joy and companionship and, of course, the cheerful rivalry that should always exist in village cricket.
It was first published in the Wilts and Glos Standard in 1978.
Frank once took all ten wickets in a match against Barnsley for just eight runs.
On another occasion, I was at the other end when he bowled Farouk Engineer (India). Although, one of my great memories is the scorecard entry that read: J Light, bowled F Mansell, 63.
I could easily be persuaded to expand on that innings in a future column! Slad had another quick bowler, none other than the vicar – the Reverend Eric Bartlett.
Just before Slad were due to play Sheepscombe, my father, who was Mansell’s captain, received a postcard from the cricketing vicar. It was brief and to the point. ‘Tell Mansell no quarter asked, or given’ it read.
Frank’s poems live on. His book Cotswold Ballads is obtainable in some local bookshops. But but be warned – it costs a few bob.
Some of his poems have been set to music by Johnny Coppin. Our Cotswold life is enriched by characters like Frank Mansell. One of his own verses provides an effective epitaph.
“Where fields are girt with Cotswold Stone “Where Cotswold kind go reaping “Among the folk he called his own “The Cotswold lad is sleeping.”