I think it’s fair to say that this all too brief tribute will, in no way, do justice to the contribution Alan made to the Old Boys, or to the influence he had on many of us personally.
Standing here, I must admit I feel a bit of a fraud. Looking round I realise that many of you knew Alan for well over fifty years, whereas I only knew him for a mere forty five. However, I think it does just emphasise the fact that once you had Alan as a friend, you definitely had a friend for life.
I first met Alan when he came down to referee a school match at Motspur Park. I remember being impressed by the fact that he sported all the badges you’d expect from a top class referee, which of course he was. I had a very high regard for Alan’s ability as a referee, helped in part by the fact that over the years he never felt compelled to book me, let alone send me off, which put him in a very small minority indeed.
When I joined the Old Boys, Alan was already a well-
I really got to know Alan whilst playing cricket with him over many Summer’s. Not only was he a very correct top order batsman, who never gave his wicket away cheaply, but he was also a very capable and unfussy wicketkeeper. Alan’s umpiring was, as you’d expect, always fair and, invariably, accurate. There was definitely no need for DRS when Alan umpired! I think what sticks in my memory most though is the encouragement and support he gave to his fellow team mates. I honestly believe he derived as much, if not more, satisfaction from our doing well with bat or ball, than he did from his own performance. I think that probably epitomises Alan’s approach not only to cricket, but to life in general, very generous in his praise for others, but self-
I’d like to end, if I may, with a true story. Many years ago whilst on a golfing tour to Ireland, I had the punchline of a joke rattling around in my head. However, for some reason, I couldn’t remember the actual joke. I asked around a few of the older members of our group, but none seemed to be able to help. Finally, Bob Blewer suggested that, next time I saw Alan, I should ask him. Curious as to why he thought he might know the answer, Bob explained that Alan had yet another string to his bow, which was that of a part time music hall entertainer! As luck would have it, a few weeks later I met Alan at an OTA meeting – I’m fairly sure he was Chairman – Anyway I explained my dilemma and told him the punchline that had been driving me mad. Alan’s face broke into a broad smile, and he immediately went into full music hall mode. What followed can only be described, as an absolute masterclass in the art of joke telling. It was, in fact, like being transported back to the Hackney Empire in the 1950’s!
Over the years Alan and I would often swap old jokes, but he always maintained that the one I’d asked him about originally was among his all-
Alan Baker 27th September 1941-