On Monday we lost Brian Fielding and the response that we have seen from the cricketing family both here and across the world highlights the affection and regard in which this fantastic man was held.

It is a sad time and Brian will be greatly missed.

It may be seem like an indulgence, but I would like to share my thoughts about someone I was lucky enough to sit next to at Ramsbottom Cricket Club for many years.

It was a great pleasure to have known him, an honour to have been able to spend so much time with him and listen to him talk about cricket, his life and his career. I have previously said that I never saw Brian play cricket, it just felt like I had: I know how long his run up was, what his best performances were and, whilst he didn’t mention it often, how he claimed the wickets of Viv Richards and Steve Waugh. Some people may not know that he was a decent singer. There was a slight downside due to his repertoire usually being limited to the repetition of the same line over and over, but he could seriously carry a tune.

It was also obvious how much his family meant to him: Marjorie, Jon, Sarah and his grandchildren were his life. He would often talk about Jon’s cricketing achievements but on the day that his grandsons, Brad and JJ, played in the same team as Jon at Acre Bottom he was bursting with pride. One drawback of watching Brad and JJ play whilst sat next to Brian was having to join him in not moving from your seat whilst either of them were batting. I would only get dispensation from this duty to go to the bar for him when his pint of Carling was nearly empty – he generously allowed me to get one for myself.

Ramsbottom CC was his extended family, he had many great friends such as Maurice Haslam with whom he shared a love of golf, cricket and the China Cottage restaurant. His many friends at the cricket club will miss him but I am sure they, like me, hold very warm memories of him. One of mine will always be joining him on “The Rammy Lads” trips to Benidorm where the conversations from the cricket season would be taken back up and where, to his chagrin, he never won the mini golf competition whilst part-timers like me and Derek fluked our way to the title.

He also told me about the times when he played as a club professional for Cherry Tree and Clitheroe Cricket Clubs.  I was lucky enough to be in his company when we played at Chatburn Road and saw the esteem in which he was held by all at Clitheroe. Whilst he loved his time playing for these teams, his heart was always at Ramsbottom.

He was passionate about “his” cricket club and spent many hours raising funds and working on the ground to give Acre Bottom the polish it deserves. There have been many people who have contributed their time and efforts to this club over the years but I am pretty confident that we wouldn’t have the club as we know it today without Brian.

 Whilst this loss is great and we have a very big hole to fill in our lives, it is a great opportunity for this cricket club to celebrate a former Captain, Chairman, President, a very dear friend and a lovely, lovely man.

John Fox