Action at the Recreation Ground

St. MARGARETSBURY CRICKET CLUB

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Paul Thurgill

The news of the death on Sunday of Paul Thurgill has been both sad and shocking. It was typical of Paul that few of us knew that he was so very ill. A private man, he would not want anyone to worry about him.

Paul was part of the fabric of the club. He was a fine cricketer and a supporter of both the cricket and football clubs. However, all who knew him will cherish the memory of a true friend who played the game as he lived; generous in spirit, supportive to all and a sense of doing the right thing on and off the field.

Personal records and milestones were unimportant to Paul, though a glance at the records show that he ranks with the very best St Margaretsbury has produced. Over 11,000 runs for the club, six centuries and more catches that anyone has taken (or possibly will take) for St Margaretsbury bear testament to a very fine player. As a batsman he could stroke the ball effortlessly in all directions. In his hands the bat was a rapier rather than a broadsword. He could have scored many more runs since he often dropped down the batting order on Sunday to give someone else the chance to bat. Records show he was the leading wicket taker for two successive years in 1978 and 1979.

As wicketkeeper his skill won high praise from expert judges such as as Gordon Craig and Peter Ellis. He was good enough to take over as First XI wicketkeeper on Gordon`s retirement. As a `keeper he was brave and skilful enough to stand up to the wicket to most bowlers. Paul took great pride in his skills. One of the few occasions I saw him low after a game was after what he considered a poor performance behind the stumps. Needless to say, no one else noticed. The constant inane chatter of many wicketkeepers was alien to him; a kind and encouraging word to a struggling youngster or a congratulatory and friendly word to a more established player was more his style.

His experience and understanding of the game and individuals were invaluable to the captains of any teams in which he played. He worked with younger players in the Colts section and many of today`s senior players took their first steps in adult cricket with Paul. Here, his good humour and kindness of spirit, as well as his love of the game and how it should be played would instil in them an enduring love for the game. `As long as the team wins` was his catchphrase, about which he was affectionately ribbed. But we all knew it was a view that Paul felt sincerely. He was one of the best players, but to Paul it was always `we` and never `me`.

Paul was a fine ambassador for the club and the game. Paul was great company on and off the field. In the bar he would chat and relax in the company of his friends and enjoy his lager, with the trademark lemonade top.

Paul was the true St Margaretsbury man. As well as cricket, he was a loyal supporter of St Margaretsbury football. For a number of years in the 1990s he ran the line for the football club, earning the nickname `Lino`.

Once retired he would never play again, for once Paul had made up his mind it would be difficult to shift. Thankfully, he remained a frequent visitor to the ground. He would be happy to sit and talk and a later generation of players would warm to his generosity of spirit and complete integrity. Not for Paul the `it was better in my day` school of retired players.

Paul Thurgill, a fine cricketer, sportsman and gentlemen in the truest sense of the word. And to everyone who knew him, our friend.

Nick Cockroft
27 Aug 2020
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