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Eulogy - Allan Lewis
(Posted: 05/02/2018)
Memories of Allan It is an unfortunate fact that even the best of friends cannot attend each other's funeral, but I am honoured, on this sad occasion, to be able to pay my tribute to Allan. As Joe has recorded, Allan came down south from Liverpool in 1962 having played cricket for Liverpool 2nd XI and by a fortunate twist of fate was encouraged to join Merstham Cricket Club where I had just finished my time in their Colts section. Our families grew up together, always enjoying a common love of cricket. There were always cricket bats and balls around when we got together. Our friendship continued from Copthorne through the various and numerous Lewis family abodes with our children establishing friendships which I am so glad continue to this day. Never was my respect for Allan greater than when his eldest son Matthew tragically died just over eight years ago. Himself a fine cricketer, Matthew’s passing would have tested any family’s strengths, but Allan led them though to happier times, and his love of Oscar and his other grandchildren has been at the centre of their family I said that cricket was a common bond and in particular our joint association with Merstham Cricket Club. Allan was a fine bowler and the Surrey Mirror of the day recorded many of his exploits. Here is just a small selection of his achievements as recorded by our local Wisden. "Lewis 5-41 commands respect as befitted his new role as father." "Again, Lewis sparked a spectacular collapse by reaping the reward for fast and accurate bowling 7-34." "The visitors were left wondering what Allan Lewis had for lunch as he added four more victims 6-22 off 18 overs." "Opening bowler Allan Lewis made a sensational start to their reply by achieving the hattrick when he hit the stumps each time with the last three balls of his first over and ended up with 6-11." Of course, the game and our facilities at Merstham have changed a lot since Allan and I first started. Then there was no electricity in the pavilion and we had to stock the bar by pushing trolleys of beer barrels across the A23 down to the Club on the narrow path through the cow field. Our focus soon changed from cricket bats and pads to cow pats. Times have changed and other memories are of cricket tours down to the West Country where a mixture of cricket and family led to such happy times. My observation is that watching cricket from your cot and exploring village pubs when you could first walk should be part of every child’s development. It never seemed to do any of the Lewis children any harm, yet the importance of a cricketing environment seems to be overlooked by our social advisers. Allan passed on his skills and love of the game to the next generation of Merstham cricketers being Colts Manager in the 1980s and his contribution to the Club did not end when he hung up his boots as he held the posts of Secretary, then Vice Chairman and finally Chairman bringing all of his experience and commitment to managing the Club through some difficult times. The current healthy state of the Club is just one of his legacies. He retired from more active duties as a Vice President and a Life Member. Another Merstham stalwart Richard Mantell said to me that when he first joined as a lad in his late teens, Allan and his family were an integral part of making the club so welcoming and friendly that it became more of an extended family to him than a club. Richard thought of Allan a few weeks back when he was listening to a radio programme on which various pundits were choosing their greatest Ashes team. Not surprisingly Glen McGrath was chosen by all of them. A listener then e-mailed in to say he had been pleased to discover that this scourge of English batsmen was a very nice bloke off the field. I think any batsman who faced Allan would say the same. On the field he was always up for the fight and very competitive. I know I umpired at his end sometimes. Batsmen were there to be dismissed, preferably with the departure of their middle stump. Off the field he was a lovely, kind man and a perfect gentleman. Richard concludes, in many ways I feel I have lost a member of the family as well as a friend. If there were more men in the world like Allan it would be a better place for sure. I will not forget him and the happy times I shared with him both on and off the field. I do not want to give the impression that Allan went around dressed in whites, ball in hand, marking out his run waiting for the game to start. Allan had far more talents than just cricket, he was loyal, honest, and hard working. You have heard from Joseph and now from his cricketing family, the respect, love and affection he was held in. Forgive me if you can remember me saying this before, but friendship is the hardest thing in the world to explain. It’s not something you can see or touch. You do not necessarily have to be with someone to share it. You cannot put it into words easily, it’s something you feel. A strong friendship doesn't need daily conversation or being together. It is like good health; the value of it is seldom known until it is lost. With Allan you knew you had found it and you treasured its existence. Well, my teammate, our dear friend, your final appeal has been turned down and your last over has been bowled, the umpire has removed the bails and the stumps have been taken out. You can put away your pads, retire to the bar, enjoy a beer and reflect on a game and a life well played. We shall all miss you but be assured that though your dreams be tossed and blown, you and your family will never walk alone.
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