On Thursday 19th October 2023, Berkhamsted Cricket Club’s President Julian Dent broadcast the following:
I have unfortunately got some sad news. Dad passed away peacefully this morning after a challenging time recently with his health.
Messages of condolence to Steve’s wife Maura, Johnny and his family duly arrived from all quarters, including Phil Brown, Ian Campbell, Dave Chrispin, Pete Dudley & Colin Meager, and the following memories of Steve and his huge contribution to Berkhamsted CC, both on and off the field, have been collected.
Tim Buckley (BCC Chairman) :
“A real Club stalwart who will be sorely missed.”
Chris Turner :
“Steve was a really great guy. He did a lot to help save the Club back in the day and was very instrumental in introducing Julian onto the scene (to carry on that work). Something we should all be very grateful for him having done. RIP Steve.”
Charlie Hussey :
“Undoubtedly Steve saved Berkhamsted CC from going out of business (in the early 1990s) and having to be disbanded. What our Bank Manager didn’t realise in the negotiations that involved Steve was that he was one of the country’s leading insolvency and bankruptcy experts! “
Chris T : “Yes, he was one of the ‘Gang of Three’ who rode to our rescue: Steve, Colin Buckle & Bernie Smith. The poor Bank Manager stood no chance against Steve when it came to discussing bankruptcy. We can be forever grateful to them for that.”
…and back to Charlie : “Moreover Steve had a sharp wit, keen intellect and sense of humour, which made him a perfect companion in the slips. If you got out for a golden duck, you would find an application form for the Primary Club waiting on your kit bag in the dressing room.”
Andy Niven :
“That’s so sad, another BCC stalwart gone. If I recall, did Steve have a bowling action that could have forerun the 'frog in a blender' action of South African spinner Paul Adams?”
Andy was spot on with his comparison. If you never got to see Steve turn his arm, take a quick look at Mr Adams bowling in South Africa at : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YbhfBdi7LLk
It is labelled “Left Arm Unorthodox”…
Bob Niven remembered Steve as “a very good team-mate & colleague and a reliable right-hand bat.”
Steve was also a keen-eyed close fielder who took many catches, especially close in at leg-slip through the advantage of being left-handed.
Bob is at the left-hand end of this picture of BCC’s Gazette Cup winning team in 1967, and Steve can be spotted supporting keenly, just behind the players.
Jim Niven :
“My main memory of Steve was he and his father coming to watch Berkhamsted play a match on a sunny afternoon at Lower Kings Road on the very day his mother had passed away. They were both in shock but Steve still felt there was some solace in watching his fellow team-mates play. His father too seemed pleased to watch with his son Steve.”
Here is Steve in his cricket whites in this team line-up of the 1st XI in 1966 :
BERKHAMSTED CC 1st XI - 1966
Jack Harrowell (Umpire), Peter Gower, John Putman, Eric Roe (w-k), Steve James, John Keen, Dennis Beard
Cyril Hughes, Norman Warren, Ken Burling (Captain), Colin Meager, Brian Collins
Sandra Warren (Scorer)
As the Club expanded steadily through the 1960s, Steve joined with Doug Richardson to captain the 3rd XI in the 1968 season. Born in October 1945, Steve was only 22 when taking on his first captaincy role for the Club. For the following four seasons he was then Vice-Captain in close support to Gordon Paton.
The following photograph shows Gordon in 1980, alongside Dennis Atkins and Pat Wilding.
BCC 3rd XI captaincy duties then passed to Dick Wilding & Bill Johnson from the 1973 season, and Steve took the reins back again, in conjunction with Dick, for 1976 & 1977.
An annual Berko cricket tour was a feature of the mid-1970s. In 1975 the destination was Holland, triggered by regular touring exchanges between Berkhamsted School and Deventer.
Organised by Dick Wilding, the tour ran to plan with some splendidly legendary stories emerging from it.
One of them reported that Steve zoomed down the A2 to the port at Dover in his sporty Triumph Herald (not the BMW shown above…) remarking occasionally upon how hot the engine smelt. After forty or so miles at this high speed, he went to change down when approaching a roundabout and realised that the entire distance had been covered in 3rd gear…
Dick’s tour-organising expertise then took the Club to Cheltenham for several years thereafter. Here is Steve amongst BCC team-mates in August 1978, courtesy of the Wilding family album with this image undoubtedly taken by Dick himself :
After the move to Kitchener’s Field, Steve had two further seasons of captaincy when leading the Sunday 3rd XI in 1987 and then on both days in 1989 & 1990.
He held the key role of Treasurer in 1992, in succession to Ray Pope, helping to recover and stabilise the Club’s finances before handing the post on to Peter Gower in 1993.
As a long-standing Vice President and regular attendee with Maura at the annual VPs & Life Members Lunch event, Steve always kept a close eye on the Club’s progress and its history, an ongoing interest in son Johnny’s cricket-playing career for Berkhamsted, and contributed many a story about the players who had sadly returned to the pavilion before him.
As our Chairman rightly put it, Steve was a real Club stalwart who will indeed be sorely missed.