Tribute and photos by Michael Weeks, Secretary, Cornwall Cricket League
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The death has been announced of Cornish Cricket stalwart Michael Evans of Tuckingmill, Camborne, aged 81. Having suffered ill health in recent times, and a brief spell at the Royal Cornwall Hospital, he passed away on 27 January 2020 at Falmouth Hospital. He stepped down from office in 2016 after completing a remarkable 44 years of service for both the Cornwall Cricket League and Mining Division Evening League.
Michael was one of five siblings and is survived by brothers Neil & Nigel and sisters Gloria & Joyce.
He made his league debut as a 14-year-old player for Kehelland in 1953 before moving on to play for Barripper. Duty called in 1957 when he was conscripted for two years of National Service, which he thoroughly enjoyed. He spent twelve months in Cyprus which included playing plenty of cricket. He was a left-arm bowler and in his own words ‘a sticker’ with the bat.
His first cricket administration duties came with his club South Crofty, in the sixties. He worked underground at the tin mine, near his home. He became the cricket club secretary, a post he held for 41 years to 2001. The club joined the Cornwall Cricket League in 1969. The famous local rugby referee Tommy May was his club captain, father of notable referee David ‘Daisy’ and grandfather of St Just’s highly successful cricket captain Gareth.
In the late sixties, Mike organised an overseas club cricket tour to Dublin, playing matches at Trinity College. South Crofty CC went on to win eight successive Junior 2 titles in the 1980s but were annually denied promotion due to the ‘closed shop’ that operated in the top two Western divisions at the time.
After giving up playing Mike took on the role of Mining Division Evening League Secretary & Treasurer in 1973 and ran the popular evening competition for over four decades. In 1996 the MDEL took over the former Falmouth & District League’s Andrew Cup Competition when ‘Bunny’ Williams retired. Also in 1973, Mike was elected to the Western Sectional Committee of the Cornwall Cricket League. Two years later he joined the countywide Management Committee and in 43 years he only missed one committee meeting, and that was due to medical reasons. Quite an achievement for a non-driver!
He became Vinter Cup Secretary/Treasurer in 1986 and was an ever-present at both the main gate and presentation ceremony for the annual July final at Camborne’s Roskear ground. Heaven forbid if someone tried to get into the ground without a pass. A VIP Trophy presenter tried once, but failed miserably! On another occasion, the county captain’s wife got equally short shrift – as Mike correctly pointed out “She’s not playing is she?”
Mike with John Buddle at a Vinter Cup Sponsorship launch in 2016
Mike took on the role of Western Section Secretary in 1990, following the retirement of Goldsithney’s Wally Hodges. Mark Mitchell and Bill Hocking briefly held the position of full League Secretary before Mike was elected to the post in 1993. Chairman and mentor Syd Trembath gave him full support, even if his phone rang on occasions after 10.30 pm with an ’urgent’ question!
In recognition of his outstanding service, the Cornwall Cricket League made Mike an Honorary Life Member in 2017. After taking over the running of the Mining Competition the League also commissioned a trophy named in his honour – ‘The Michael Evans Trophy’ that is awarded annually to the Mining Division Evening League champions. His last official cricket duty was to present that trophy, in his name, at the 2017 Final at Camborne.
Michael enjoyed all sport and particularly rugby, he was a former CRFU referee travelling to games on his trusty scooter. He could quote every law before a line out or scrum, and often did! He was a great statistician and, in addition to cricket, in the winter months would log rugby and football scores week by week. Whether it be Arsenal in the Premier League, Billericay in National League South or Madron in Trelawny League Division 2 their weekly efforts would all be painstakingly logged by hand on a Sunday morning.
Following a heart valve operation in August 2016, Michael did not enjoy the best of health in later life and spent various spells in hospital. After suffering a number of falls he moved to a care home in the autumn of 2019. “ Who would have thought it would come to this,” he said to me on a recent visit. He is survived by his wife Janet who, sadly, is in another care home, suffering from dementia. Their relationship came through cricket. They met when Mike toured Greater Manchester with Crofty over 40 years ago.
Personally not only have I lost a cricket colleague but a lifetime family friend. Maybe it was written in the stars that within five days of me becoming League Secretary Mike finally succumbed to his health struggles of late. We go back over fifty years when my late dad started playing cricket again to encourage me and my brother as youngsters. He joined South Crofty CC and was part of that tour to Ireland just before the troubles. No link hopefully! Mike would often visit the house in those days never saying no to a mug of tea or devouring the remains of the cake tin – anything stale – not a problem – he would sort it!
Mike taught me to score cricket matches and must have known a thing or two as in later life I was considered competent enough to score three-day Minor County games. He also taught me how to use computer spreadsheets and the complex fixture making matrix. To think, I could have had a life! For 25 years I was Mike’s transport for various cricket meetings and cup games, to St Austell or Truro in particular. Live Vinter Cup draws at grounds were always an event. Even the one at Camborne when ball number 6 never got in the bag but was eventually found near the Gents!
Before that, in the eighties, we followed Camborne Rugby Football Club every Saturday, home and away, Launceston to Penzance, before the National Leagues came in. Over those four decades and thousands of miles, I would patiently be the recipient of his portfolio of stories. They did get a little repetitive it has to be said. If I had a pound for every time I heard about Peter Denning’s innings he witnessed at Taunton in 1973 or comments when drafted in at short notice to umpire a Camborne v Redruth Senior 1 hotly contested derby with Bill Bosanko or what a marvellous invention road cats eyes were or the parking problems in Tuckingmill I’d be a very rich man indeed.
Mike would often recall when playing for Crofty the captain and wk Tommy May would shout “I want it here when throwing in, in the gloves”. Mike’s next return, from short range, was of such velocity it laid poor Tommy out after being hit in the stomach. “Was that better? was Mike’s response to ‘Captain Fantastic’ as he referred to him.
For 15 years Mike gave up his summer Saturday nights to help collect the match scores for the Sunday Indy, first at Paul Bawden’s and then with me. Amongst the stress, there were lighter moments. Picking up the tv remote and talking to it instead of the phone was almost a weekly classic or the abrupt call to a clubhouse for a missing key result, nearing copy deadline, where his greeting would be “How did you get on today, you haven’t phoned in the result to Michael Weeks for the Sunday Independent!” Never mind “Good Evening etc”. Mike’s motto was always why use 20 words when five will do?
Then there was his repertoire of rehearsed catchphrases such as “Rules is Rules”, “Put it in writing” and “Makes you wonder what’s going on” when something might not have been as it seemed.
I’ll close with one of his favourites “It was never a dull moment”.
Thanks for the memories Mike, dedication and laughs.
Rest in Peace.
Secretary, Cornwall Cricket League
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Great words Mike condolences to all from Gorran CC
Colin Weeks Sad day for Cornish Cricket RIP Mike. Michael, firstly what a marvellous tribute to Mike, he would be so proud. Secondly congratulations on the secretaries post, well deserved.
St Blazey Cricket Club Rest in peace to former league secretary Michael. Thoughts go out to your family and cricket friends