Following the recent passing of former Club captain and Chairman, Ray Bell, a tribute as been compiled by Chris Travers to honour a great club stalwart.
Ray made his debut for Sleaford Cricket Club in the early 1960’s and was a regular in the first eleven’s middle order batting up until his retirement in 1979. As a reliable accumulator of runs and an excellent fielder at cover point he was an important member of Sleaford’s first choice eleven during a period that the team were consistently strong. The pinnacle of Ray’s playing career was his election as Club Captain in 1976 (1st XI picture from 1977), a position that he held for three years before handing over the reins to Ian Battersby and announcing his retirement at the end of a season in which he was elected “Cricketer of the Year.” Ray had taken the role in succession to longstanding captain John Robinson and oversaw a period of transition within the side as a number of senior players either retired or left the club.
Away from the field of play Ray had undertaken a number of roles for the club, firstly as a member of the general committee and most notably as the organiser of the Pattinson Cup alongside fellow club stalwart Peter Hollingworth. A mid – week competition for local village clubs there was an entry upwards of twenty teams every season and the organisation of the matches was always of the highest order and earned much praise from competing sides. Ray also served as Sleaford’s representative to the South Lincs and Border League as well as holding the position of Social Secretary at a time when there were a number of significant annual events as well as in house club events on a monthly basis.
Ray was elected Chairman in 1998 and held the position for a number of years during which time he steered Sleaford Cricket Club carefully and efficiently as well as overseeing a number of high profile International fixtures such as England Under 19’s against Australia Under 19’s. His diligent stewardship ensured that Sleaford Cricket Club always remained a solid and stable organisation. After retiring from office he remained a regular spectator at Sleaford’s matches and his presence on the London Road ground will be sorely missed.
Perhaps Ray’s greatest legacy will be his production in 2003 of “A Pride in our Heritage,” a publication to mark the bi-centenary of Sleaford Cricket Club. A thoroughly researched piece of work charting the foundation and development of the club, Ray spent many hours compiling the book and the diligence of this publication epitomises the man and the contribution that he made to Sleaford Cricket Club.