I THOUGHT Tom Richardson would go on forever. Filling the role of Chief Executive of the Gloucestershire County Cricket Club with such vigour and determination he seemed a permanent part of the club.
For 12 years his shirt-sleeved figure has been so much a part of our county scene.
The long, warm and reflective conversation I had with him last week showed me I should have anticipated his decision. He has achieved so much that he feels he can step down with honour.
Ground development is well under way. The major part of it, the pavilion, will be complete when Tom leaves. That will be his memorial.
But there is so much more. As a board member, Tom has played a major part in the overall strategy of the club and as Chief Executive the execution of that strategy has been his task.
At the heart of this has been necessary cuts and economies. Tom has been nothing other than fair and straightforward, and at the same time tremendously loyal to his staff. Nothing has been shirked and for all of those years he has put the county first. He is a valued and true friend.
I hope that county members read in full the letter they have just received from Chairman Rex Body. It offers members opportunities they have never before possessed. Recommendations can be made for the post of club president and, more importantly, members can make nominations for the executive board or stand for it themselves.
Glos CCC is now a true members’ club and there is the opportunity for the right people to move straight to the heart of Gloucestershire cricket.
The previous constitution caused one very major figure in English cricket to defect to another county.
Chairman Rex and myself had to wait until we were 60-plus to be doing things we could have done at 50. The way is now open for the right people to make a contribution and many readers of this newspaper are capable of doing exactly that. Take the chance. It is worth it!
So was my visit to Lincoln on Saturday (Lincoln City 1 FGR 2). Despite the wretched weather, I bravely ventured forth. The attraction of a small but vibrant Cotswold town (Nailsworth) playing against a team from a major English city was too good to miss.
The all-seater Sincil Bank ground close to the Cathedral is set up for Championship football. No one was overawed, however and Rovers were on top from the start. The front three of Taylor, Norwood and Styche were too much for a static defence. It was 2-0 at half-time – it could have been four. Lincoln rallied in the second half but Rovers held on to earn three points.
I could not leap up to celebrate as I was sharing the Radio Gloucestershire commentary with Bob Hunt and we had been given the two smallest seats in the stadium. And, of course, neither of us is slender.
The press area at the New Lawn will be crowded, but not cramped, when Wrexham play there on Saturday.
Like FGR they are pushing for promotion and bring with them a large press posse. Their broadcasters commentate in Welsh, making it seem like a European Cup-tie. No, that is not ridiculous, just think about it. Team from a major city in a foreign country and a different language used – all the ingredients are there.
My nomination of Nigel Scrivens as the best ever sportsman produced by Cirencester has caused some discussion.
Cricketer Wally Hammond and athlete David Hemery have been suggested as alternatives but as their only connection with Cirencester is schooling they were not considered. This column would welcome other suggestions so the ball is in your court, readers.
The cold weather which has prevented sporting action has allowed much conversation of a nostalgic nature to take place.
Meeting Ray Keylock, a fine Coates wicket keeper and a worthy opponent in the 1950s, I suggested the best way to forget the treacherous Brewery Yard car park was to go home and think about the sunlit evenings of the Oaksey Bowl.
He readily agreed, but added that the years Coates won must be especially remembered, 55 years later they are still winning!
This was the era that Frank Keating (Stroud News, Punch, Spectator, Guardian and Observer) was watching cricket at Cheltenham sustained by ‘a bottle of Tizer and a bag of Pershore plums’. No one has evoked the joy of those far-off days better than Frank.
His heroes – Bomber, Tom, Sam, Arthur, Andy and the two Georges – were ours and his writings ensure their memories will live in our hearts forever. He died last week, but no one could leave a greater legacy. Reading his columns was always a joy.