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       Unicorns Championship & KO Trophy

SIMON PORTER 

    (1950- 2017)

The cricketing world is greatly saddened to learn of the passing of Simon Porter, on 9tth February aged 66.  He was one of the leading figures in Oxfordshire cricket for over 40 years, a senior member of the Minor Counties Cricket Association, and major contributor to Oxford University Cricket Club.  Simon was deeply respected by those with whom he came into contact.  All groups praised him not only for his diverse efforts in the cricketing community but also for his high values and his gentlemanly conduct on and off the  field.

Simon was born in Oxford in 1950, he was exceptionally bright and, having attended Littlemore GS, he went up to Oxford University aged only 16.  He secured a first class honours degree in Engineering and completed a doctorate at 22. He then became Bursar at St Cross College and later assumed a similar position at Nuffield College. He retired at 46, and subsequently devoted his time to his coin business and his many cricketing roles

Simon was a notable cricketer, winning an Oxford Blue in 1973 and playing 127 matches for Oxfordshire from 1971-88. His total of 355 wickets places him seventh on the list of all time wicket-takers for the County and he was a useful batsman too, scoring 1840 runs with a top score of 76.v Wiltshire at Devises in 1981.  His best bowling performance was 7-38 against Buckinghamshire at Christ Church in 1977. He was part of the Oxfordshire championship winning sides in 1974 and 1982 and was selected to tour Kenya with the Minor Counties in 1982.  e was elected the Minor Counties’ President from 2009-11 and was greatly admired for attending so much minor counties’ cricket in different parts of the country during his three summers in that position.

Simon’ played club cricket for Headington United, captaining the side from 1973 to 1985,and leading them to the Cherwell League title, which he had helped to found, in 1974, 1977, and 1981 and to success in the national indoor competition in 1977. He also captained the OCCA representative team and led them to the national title in 1979.

Throughout this period Simon was also managing cricket in The University Parks in his role as Oxford University Cricket Club Senior Treasurer, and latterly Chairman. He would generally be in the pavilion on match days, ensuring all ran smoothly and entertaining officials and guests. He was also Secretary of the Oxford University Authentics from 1973-2013.

Simon's catch phrase during tense times on the cricket field was always 'peace and love'; It is to be hoped that he has found the former, and the latter will live on in abundance through his family – his wife, Rosalyn, and cricket playing daughters  Genevieve and Eloise, and all his  many, many friends.:

 NWG February 2017

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GEOFF EVANS

(1939-2016)

CRICKET’S STALWART SERVANT

All associated with Minor Counties cricket will have been shocked and saddened by the sudden death of Geoff Evans last September at the age of 77.  At the heart of everything that set Devon cricket in its pedestal over the course of the last 38 years, no less significant has been his work as Secretary of the Minor Counties Cricket Association.  Indeed, the very continuation of competitive cricket at this level bears testimony to his quite remarkable talents.

A proud Devonian, the only son of a petroleum salesman, born in Exeter in April, 1939, Geoffrey Rossall Evans was educated at Hele’s Grammar School.  While there, his prodigious talents, both sporting and academic, rapidly came to the fore.  After a brief stint working for the library service, he later worked as a stock taker and valuer in the licensing trade.  Joining locally based Heavitree Brewery in 1968, he retired in 2001.

As a cricketer, Evans first made his name as a talented wicket keeper and doughty lower order batsman, playing league cricket for both Exeter and Exmouth.  An earnest and hard-working student of the game, he also toured with the Gentlemen of Devon.  Both in front of, and behind the stumps, he played the game exactly as he lived his life-with a modesty and charm, yet with great dignity.  Winters were invariably spent as a combative half back, playing soccer for a number of local teams.

He made the first of 20 appearances for Devon as they took on Dorset in the Minor Counties Championship at Queen’s park, Paignton, in August, 1972.  Like many before and after, he made a duck on his debut.  Six years later, he was an ever present as the county laid claim to their first championship title.  Capped in 1979, that year marked his highest score at this level, 21, made against Somerset Second XI at Taunton.  In all he claimed 34 victims: 25 caught and 9 stumped.

As his playing days wound down, Evans began to make an even deeper impression on the game as an administrator.   Devon Secretary, from 1986 until 2009, his input off the field was mirrored by the county’s remarkable renaissance on it.  Enjoying a close and productive partnership with captain, Peter Roebuck, during the 1990s the team collected a remarkable seven trophies in seven years.  Between 2004 and 2011, his successors, Bobby Dawson and Neil Hancock added a further five.

Further afield, Evans’s expertise was also in demand within the management structures of minor counties cricket.  In 2001, he proved a popular choice to succeed David Armstrong as Secretary of the Association.   In the interim, having also successfully overseen the replacement of the old Devon Cricket Association with the fledgling Devon Cricket Board, he later succeeded Roger Moylan-Jones as Chairman of Devon County Cricket Club.

                                                                                                              Kenneth Shenton


My Friend Geoff
Towards the end of last summer, Geoff Evans was his usual contented self, doing what he liked best, watching cricket on a beautiful day at Sidmouth, one of his favourite grounds. Even better, after struggling in the first innings, Devon were coming back strongly against our old foes, and friends, from across the River Tamar eventually to achieve a famous win. A week or so later, in more sunshine, the season came to an end as Geoff relished an excellent Championship Final over four days at the lovely Wormsley ground. Although, sadly, this was to be Geoff’s last season, I like to think that these few cricketing moments reflect a fitting and happy farewell from the game he loved and to which he gave so much.

Although Geoff never mentioned or made anything of it, and would have hated to be characterised by it in any way, the fact remains that he suffered from a congenital curvature of the spine, a condition which might be thought to be physically limiting. It seemed to mean nothing to the sporting Geoffrey! At school and at local club level he was by all accounts a more than useful footballer at inside forward, in the days when numbers on the shirt meant something. As a cricketer, against significant competition he won his place as the Devon wicket-keeper in 1972, played regularly until 1980, was part of the Championship winning side in 1978, and was capped in 1979; a remarkable achievement by anyone’s standards.

Before his playing days were over he was already giving back to the game with lengthy stints as Treasurer and then Secretary of his club, Exeter CC, in the 1960s and 70s; and in 1986 he took over as Secretary of the County Club, a role he filled in his typically wholehearted and conscientious manner for some 23 years bringing his wide knowledge of the game and shrewd judgement to bear to excellent effect. So he was well into his stride when I took over as Chairman in 1997 making my succession a simple process. I met Geoff firstly in 1972, playing together for Devon when I was home on leave, and I had kept in touch with Devon cricket affairs over the years before I came home for good in retirement, but it was then that I came to know him well, working and laughing together as we did for nearly 20 years. It was an interesting time to become involved, coinciding as it did with the inauguration of the ECB. There was the matter of setting up the Devon Cricket Board, and dealing with a range of challenges from the new National Governing Body to the operation of Minor Counties cricket. Geoff’s depth of experience and his range of contacts, both locally and nationally, were invaluable throughout this period. Soon after in 2001, he also took over as Secretary of MCCA where he developed a close and most effective working relationship with Chairman, John Pickup - a strong team who steered the Association through some choppy waters of change. During this time, Geoff represented the Association on the ECB Recreational Assembly, and also served on the ECB registration panel.

Overall, Geoff’s contribution to cricket and his widespread influence on the game’s affairs have been immense, and most significantly were recognised by his award of Life Membership of the MCC - an accolade afforded to few. Most of all, for me, I came to know and value Geoff as good friend as well as a colleague. I admired his strength of character and positive approach, respected his balanced opinion and sound judgement, and particularly enjoyed his bubbling and ever present sense of humour. We travelled many miles together, often early on a Sunday morning to three-day games up country; it was a chance to debate cricketing issues of the day but, invariably, humour took over as we laughed the miles away.

On yet another sunny day in September, in Budleigh Salterton, a packed congregation said goodbye to Geoff. Cricketers had come from far and wide, but not only those of yesteryear and Geoff’s contemporaries; notably, there were a significant number of younger players from Devon present including eight pall-bearers resplendent in their Devon CCC blazers - a fitting tribute to Geoff reflecting the esteem in which he was held. Next summer will not be the same: we will miss him dreadfully and think of him often, but always with a smile on our face.

Roger Moylan-Jones November 2016
Application form for membership of the MCCA is available here: Membership Form