Grantham Cricket Club pays tribute to legendary club president Mick Marsh
As Grantham Cricket Club comes to terms with the loss of its president Michael (Mick) Marsh, who passed away aged 86, tributes have flooded in.
One page will never be enough to fully encapsulate the significance of Mick’s contribution to the club, and to cricket in Lincolnshire, but Mick was known and loved by so many, and these snippets help paint a picture of the Mick that the club knew. Everyone’s thoughts are with Sheila, Ian and the family.
Neil Hamilton, former chairman of the club, recalls “as Mick was a good friend for more than 70 years, I have countless memories of him, but the events of November 1968 stand out, when I was nearing the end of my first year as chairman of Grantham CC, the club shared the London Road ground with Grantham FC and this presented problems from time to time.
“November would normally have been a quiet month but the footballers, having beaten Chelmsford in the First Round of the FA Cup were drawn at home in the Second Round against Swindon. Arrangements were made for a temporary stand on the open side of the football pitch and all ran smoothly until five days before the match I received a telephone call from Fred Goodliff who was one of the directors of Grantham FC as well as the editor of the Grantham Journal.
“In those days, there was no live broadcasting of football on radio, let alone television, except for the FA Cup Final, which was played on a day when there was no other football. The only concession was that the BBC broadcast live the second half of a match every Saturday. The match to be broadcast was not announced until 3pm on the day of the match selected for fear of impacting on the attendance! Fred informed me that the Grantham v Swindon match had been selected for the following Saturday. I was sworn to secrecy and the only reason I was being told was because there was the need to erect a telegraph pole on the cricket area of the ground and my permission was required.
“I gave my permission once I had been assured that the pole would be on the outfield and not on the square but insisted that I should be allowed to share the information with one other person. This person was, of course, Mick who, as well as captain of the Sunday XI, supervised ground matters.
“During the days that followed I received many telephone calls from members drawing my attention to the arrival of the pole. I did my best to allay their fears without giving the secret away but with little success. Others telephoned Mick whose response was ‘Don’t worry about it’ and they were all happy. His words carried the same weight back then as they did over 50 years later.”
Alan Lockwood, life member and former club secretary, who joined the club in the early 1970s, enjoyed a long standing and close friendship with Mick. He recalls playing in the club’s first team with Mick as captain.
He said: “At that time we were still at the old London Road ground which Mick lovingly cared for until we vacated in 1988, even though I did manage to get a 12ton hired-in road roller stuck in the soft outfield on one occasion, an event that he reckoned was outside his plans. The new Gorse Lane ground was handed over to the club in December 1991 and cricket was played for the first time in 1992 with Mick still doing the job of ground secretary which he retained for many more years.
“He was a talented cricketer with both bat and ball and was the GCC top run scorer on many occasions.
“His retiring from his ground secretary role and appointment as club president did not improve his timekeeping skills, but he always maintained his interest in our current players watching a lot of the cricket being played at Gorse Lane.
“He has also maintained contact with many players from other clubs and has invited me to join him at many “veterans lunches” at various local restaurants where friendships have been renewed and strengthened long after our playing days finished.
“His contribution to the success and survival of GCC over at least 50 years cannot be overstated and with his added input at both League and County level his passing is going to leave a huge void in cricket in Lincolnshire.”
As Mick retired from playing, his interest in Lincolnshire County Cricket Club grew. As Chris Keywood, chairman, remembers, “Mick, together with his wife Sheila, became members of Lincolnshire CCC in 2005. His vast experience as a player and ground manager was immediately recognised and he was elected to the club’s executive committee and its cricket sub-committee. By 2006 he had been made a Vice-President of the club and had become the club’s major kit sponsor through his company, Grantham Clothing Co. Ltd. This sponsorship was to last until 2019 and was an immense boost to the county club’s finances over this period.
“In 2009, he was awarded the President’s Cup for his services to the county club, an award which was richly deserved. By 2012, he had become the Club’s Senior Vice-President, a position which he held until 2016 when because of personal circumstances he stood down. During his period as senior vice-president he was a vital member of the club’s management committee. He and Sheila later became life members of the club, giving the team strong support both home and away. Mick continued until his death as a member of the Executive Committee.
“He will be sadly missed but his legacy will surely be the fine playing surface that he produced at Grantham CC for which the county club will be forever grateful.”
Adam Shaw, former captain at Grantham CC, worked closely at Gorse Lane with Mick in his final years as ground secretary, before Adam’s relocation after finishing university. Adam said: “Mick was a true gentleman and a stalwart for all things cricket in Lincolnshire. He lived for Grantham Cricket Club in all his capacities across the years holding it passionately in his heart. He took so much pride in presenting the club in the right way, whether it be for a county game or a junior game, and it is this ethos that rubbed off indefinitely on those around him.
“I’ll never forget the days in and around a Lincolnshire County Game: it was a race between a few to get to the ground first thing in the morning, and a chink of the glass for those same few late in the evenings to signify a good day’s work complete.
“In life it is important to find one’s own happy place for one’s own sanity and an opportunity to gather ones thoughts: I often thought that Mick afforded himself this rather more frequently than most with it being two paces behind the mower come rain or shine!
“Many will recollect Mick in a cricketing scenario however, I was lucky enough to share several functions with him where it was abundantly clear that he was a people’s person and he enjoyed the company of other immensely. His laugh was recognisable to all those who knew him, and his occasional quip brought joy to those who learnt to understand them!”
Mick continued to play an active role on the club’s committee, where his experience and wisdom were invaluable. Ian Mihill, club chairman since 2012, said: “Cricket is a wonderful game that has the capacity to reflect life so closely. Throughout the ups and downs of a cricket career, as in life, we are occasionally blessed by the real friendship of special people. As current chairman, I will always be grateful for the true friendship of such a special person as Mick. On behalf of us all, goodbye Mr President, a fine innings well played!”