Fond Memories Of A Barrow Legend

At Christmas BGCC normally celebrate with a party and quiz organised by Rod Reeves. Following his death in September it seems a fitting time for Barrow Gurney members and friends to recount some memories and thoughts in tribute to a club legend who will be much missed at Hobbs Lane next summer and for many years to come.

Club President Brian Mayled wrote:

When Rod first joined the Club it was made clear that he played the game his way in technique and interpretation. When batting you needed to be on your toes or you could find yourself left in the middle of the wicket. On the other hand if he was bowling neither you nor the opposition knew what to expect which often.proved a useful ploy!

Off the field he frequently supported groundwork and then, out of the blue, Rosemary suffered a severe stroke. Rod dropped everything in order to nurse her. Happily, she began to recover to the point where Rod could begin to return and take up some reins again. The Club needed someone to take on the annual tour and Rod did not hesitate. Like many of his cricketing ventures he will be most missed.

Rod discussing the play at Hobbs Lane with Barrow President Brian Mayled

For many Barrow members it was Rod’s role in organising the annual tour to Devon which summed him up. He loved cricket and the company of cricketers and enjoyed relaxing and socialising and he created a wonderful atmosphere for tourists both old and young.

Mark Brown recalls:

Rod’s friendliness and desire to bring people together was the perfect combination for him to lead the planning for the annual tour. Some of my fondest moments and memories were made during these tours and they will live long in the memory. I look back at the times we shared on the pitch, and in the pub, and feel pure joy and gratitude that I was able to share it with him and such a wonderful group of people. Without him, these memories would have never existed.

Rod with Ben Saunders

Connor Jones took up a similar theme:

My fond memory is on a recent tour when Rod decided to ‘head out on the town’ with the youngsters in Torquay. He went on to dominate the dance floor!

I think it’s a reminder of just how much of a club man Rod was that he was up for anything and everything, and thoroughly enjoyed the company of others within the club – be it someone who was 18 years of age, or indeed 80)

He’ll never be forgotten, and will live long in the memory of those who had the great fortune of playing, talking and dancing with him…! 

Rod playing crazy golf in Torquay

Barrow Chairman and long-standing friend Pete Holdaway reflected:

The club tour to Devon was Rod’s crowning glory as he took us to many different hotels and many different clubs. the longest running fixture was Shobrooke Park,  but his favourite was always Thorverton , where he single handedly led us to victory scoring a magnificent 94 not out after we were in some trouble.  The six that won the game was pulled by rod into the nearby road narrowly missing a lady cyclist who, as if in a scene from a carry on film, wobbled a little but thankfully survived.

Paul Mizen said:

We can thank Rod for maintaining the Tour when it seemed in doubt, so here is a picture from our stay at North Bovey, 2003. Happy memories. It was a great tour!

Rod on tour with drink in hand.

While Pete Halladay summed up all our thoughts:

Tour will never be the same.

One of the funniest episodes on tour is recalled by Geoff Saunders:

“On the 2019 tour of Devon Rod had to purchase balls for the match. In a nearby sports shop he described in great detail to an existing customer the history of our tours to Devon. This customer, while making his own choice, left his keys and £50 on the counter. Rod had brought both cash and credit card to pay but then paid by card. Having chosen the balls, he accidentally  picked up the keys and £50 of the other customer and left. When the other customer came to pay his money and keys had gone. But all was not lost as the whole incident had been recorded on the shop’s CCTV and the customer was able to say “thats him”. Knowing where the game was being played the customer had to hire a taxi, at his own expense, to get to the ground to recover his items with the mistake still being unknown to Rod. In the bar after the game the rest of the team told Rod that they had prevented him appearing on “Police 5”

Rod on tour provided a wealth of stories and memories

The presence of Rod on the cricket field was always something to savour. Sometimes it was the dogged defence, sometimes outrageous attack, accompanied by some sprightly fielding even into his 70s, and all finished off with his own sartorial elegance and eccentric mannerisms as Mark Forge recalls:

One of Rod’s most memorable innings for me was when he made 8 not out against Harptree to win the game in a very low scoring game and by the time he came into bat, the ball was not bouncing at all, but pitching and rolling along the ground, unplayable to anyone but Rod. He dug in and frustrated the bowling side, but not just with his batting but also with calling for a change of glasses, then a change of gloves, then he dispensed with his back pad and finally dispensed with his gloves entirely!

Then of course there was the famous occasion when his trousers fell down whilst running a single to the shock and horror of the oppositions nonagenarian scorer!

Rod’s defence was seemingly impenetrable at times.

Connor Jones recalls a game at Barrow …

about 7 or 8 years ago in which we had our backs very much against the wall and if memory serves me correctly, we needed to survive just to make sure we got additional batting points – any chances of winning the game had long gone. The man in the middle – Rod Reeves. He put on his best Rahul Dravid (The Wall) impression and just refused to let the relentless bowling get through his defences. Not only was it a great innings in the circumstances, but it was also sprinkled with some comedic moments – one of which saw Rod hit the deck in very extravagant fashion having been hit I the chest by a Beamer, and the second came when Rod called for a tissue as the light began to fade because apparently his glasses were fogging up. He proceeded to wipe his specs almost every ball for the next three overs to ensure we got some sort of losing bonus point.

Ben Skuse remembers:

I once turned around in a changing room pre match, to find Rod pulling on a wetsuit!

BGCC legend, no doubt.

Rod shares a joke with Geoff Saunders

Phil Milton remembers Rod’s distinctive attire too as he writes:

As I got older and started to captain teams Rod was always a good sounding board for advice and would always give you his opinion (even if you didn’t ask) however it was always genuine and from the heart.  Captaining him however was always a nightmare as you could guarantee that if you took your eye off him in the field he would have repositioned himself 10 yards away from where you had put him!  The sight of him getting ready to bat, those wetsuit cycling shorts and the smell of the Tiger Balm, you never wanted to change next to him.  Rod was the arch nudger and nurdler but I am proud to say I was there when he scored his 90+ against Thorverton on tour. 

Mark Forge had similar problems locating Rod in the field.

Every Sunday game became like a game  “Where’s Wally” as Rod was like the Scarlett Pimpernel in the field. I vividly remember the look on Frank’s face when he induced the batsman to play too early and chip one direct to where Rod was supposed to be fielding only to find he had moved himself 20 yards away.  What made Rod’s eclectic positioning even more amusing was if I asked him to field in a particular spot to stop the batsman’s favourite shot, after a couple of balls Rod moved, the shot was then played inevitably through the gap he had left, whereupon Rod would give me a lecture about the need to have a fielder in the very position he had unilaterally vacated!

Geoff Saunders remembers another amusing incident:

“One Sunday Rod is batting with a runner. Rod is not known for quick singles and amazingly calls for a very very quick single. With an injured leg he then takes the run even though injured and so does his runner. However, his partner at the umpire’s end cries “no” and so there ends up 3 batsmen at the umpire’s end plus the umpire who is also a Barrow Player. There then ensues a four-man Barrow argument as to whose fault it is and who is out – to the great entertainment of the opposition fielding side. The result – can you guess?”

Rod with the late Rod Gerrish and lifelong friend Pete Holdaway

Pete Holdaway remembers his dear friend’s penchant for being part of an amusing tale:

‘Tell me a funny story about that person’………. You might get one or two that would be repeated by everyone. Ask it about rod and there would be tens of different tales of comedy, mishap and pure confusion, all told with a twinkle in the eye that typified the way we knew him.

The stories around the early days of my friendship with rod are not suitable to be repeated here, but i remember one about our coaching sessions at Barrow with the first batch of juniors back  in the early 2000s.

Rod had decided that a diminutive lad called Matthew, who he called ‘boff’, as he resembled a character from a film, needed to improve his cover drive.  In a way not approved of in these ‘correct’ times, Rod stood behind Matthew and grabbed the handle of the bat, as you would to a young child.  As the ball was thrown down to half volley length, he shouted ‘hit it now boff!!!’  And swung through the line, projecting young Matthew in the air several feet to silly mid-off, missing the ball completely, of course, and leaving Matthew on the grass, staring at Rod somewhat bemused. Rod chuckled ‘we’ll  deal with feet movement next week boff! ‘.

The eccentric cricketer

Which rather nicely leads us to remember the many hours Rod gave to support young Barrow cricketers, but his support was not just limited to playing the great game of cricket, as Mark Brown recounts:

You don’t realise how much someone has an impact on your life until they are truly gone. Rod was one of those people. 

It is with great sadness to hear the loss of such a character but he will live long in my memory. Rod was an enormous part of my journey playing for Barrow. He was there from the beginning when I joined as an Under 11 and he guided me all the way through the juniors, into the 2nd XI and then on for the 1st XI. His support and encouragement was second to none. His endless positivity helped not only me, but many other juniors, to have the confidence to go out and play men’s cricket at a young age. Without that support we may have fallen out of love with the game early on and may not be playing like we do now. Whether you scored a few runs or got a golden duck he would always manage to find something beneficial to say about your game, promoting that eagerness and desire to improve. 

It wasn’t just on the field that he helped us. During my teens, he would go out of his way to make sure I, and other team members, not only had a lift to cricket and back but also had a job during the summer. There must be countless Barrow players he managed to find work for over the years and managed to give each of us an important glimpse into the working world at such a young age. I’m so thankful I was able to share a few messages with him prior to his passing and will truly miss his exuberance in the clubhouse at Hobbs Lane.  

RIP, my friend.

Phil Milton echoes this:

I first met Rod as a young teenager when I first started to play for Barrow’s junior teams and he helped Geoff with the coaching.  I got to know him well however, when I started to play senior cricket and would often work for him during the school holidays as a labourer.  I have really vivid and happy memories of ripping up carpet tiles, mixing bags of latex by hand and being driven around Bristol’s greasy spoon cafés in his filthy car packed to the ceiling with carpet samples and his tools.  As you can imagine I spent hours listening to his stories and theories on life usually whilst I worked and he supervised!  The money was brilliant for a teenager and thinking back he would always pay for lunch.  Both of my brothers also worked for Rod, as have many of us down the years, he was always so generous and giving.

A true clubman, a lovely man and a great friend.  Thanks for everything Rod.

Rod with his great friend Premil Fernando

Jane Holdaway too fondly remembers Rod’s generous nature:

I think my key memory is Rods kindness and generosity . I remember a few years ago one of our youngsters was working the summer holidays for Rod and couldn’t afford to go on tour as he needed to save his income from RS Reeves Flooring for his return to Uni. Rod said he would pay him for the week provided he went on tour. Often, he would treat the youngsters to drinks or meals while on tour too.

Another story I recall was when we wanted a new carpet for Ed’s room. He came and measured and showed us samples and explained that the Black one was a great price compared to the Blue one. We thanked him for his offer but Pete, Ed and I in 3 separate conversations said we wanted Blue because it went with the decor etc. Rod came a week later and fitted the carpet-in Black because it was the best price. We still laugh about Rods claim that we’d ordered Black. An example of swearing Black was Blue!! 

Paul Mizen recommended Rod’s carpets too:

Not sure this is suitable but typically Rod. My mate wanted some carpets so I sent him Rod. Next day my mate phoned to say Rod had called and he was going to do his carpets.  “How did you get on” I asked. Fine said my mate, he turned up at 6-30 and left when I told him I was going to bed at half past ten. 

So Rod.

Rod plays through the covers

Barrow legend Gordon Ladd wanted to ensure that it was not just Rod’s contribution to cricket that is remembered:

 Perhaps you could include in your tribute to Rod what an accomplished skittles player he was. You may be aware that the cricket club has a team in the Wrington Vale league, although we’ve not played since March. Rod was the last playing member to play in both camps. He always opened the bowling and rarely scored less than 40 pins usually giving us a good start. If we ever return to playing I doubt we’ll find another as consistent as he was. 

There are so many memories to cherish and share of this truly remarkable man and far too many for one article but a big thank you to all who took the time to send these to me as a tribute for our Club’s website.

In 2021 we will look at a lasting memorial at Hobbs Lane, to a man who loved the place so much and spent so much of his summers there as coach, player, raconteur, umpire, volunteer and, most of all, a wonderful enigmatic friend.

So let us raise a glass to dear Rod this Christmas, as, to give the last word to regular tourist, Jim Butcher:

Local cricket will never be the same!

Rod Reeves – Barrow Legend 27 March 1947-26 September 2020 RIP

Spread the word. Share this post!