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Norfolk cricket veteran dies

PUBLISHED: 18:01 03 August 2009 | UPDATED: 14:35 03 July 2010

NORFOLK'S cricketing community was last night mourning the loss of one of its most popular members after a club stalwart died of a suspected heart attack while batting.

NORFOLK'S cricketing community was last night mourning the loss of one of its most popular members after a club stalwart died of a suspected heart attack while batting.

Tributes were paid to Tony Gregory, president of Drayton Cricket Club and treasurer of the Lucas Fettes Norfolk Cricket League, following his death during a game on Saturday afternoon.

Mr Gregory, 62, was at the crease for Drayton A in a Division Four game against Yarmouth A when he complained of feeling unwell and collapsed.

Team-mates rushed to his aid and attempts were made to resuscitate him.

The game, being played at Beaconsfield recreation ground in Yarmouth, was abandoned.

Mr Gregory had a special association with Drayton Cricket Club stretching back 26 years. He was club chairman from 1995 to 2002 and took over as club president in 2003.

Nicknamed Greggers and El Presidente, Mr Gregory made his debut for Drayton in 1983 and went on to play more than 650 matches for the club he loved.

In his 26 seasons playing for the side he scored more than 12,000 runs, captaining the first team for 11 seasons. He was the club's leading run scorer in 1985, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1999 and 2004.

He joined the Norfolk Cricket League committee as treasurer in 2006 and as a mark of respect the Norfolk Cricket League has asked all teams to observe a minute's silence before the start of next week's fixtures.

Tim Porter, secretary of Norfolk Cricket League, said: “We were very saddened to hear what had happened. I received a text saying Tony had died while batting.

“He had said to the bowler to hang on because he didn't feel too well and then he collapsed.”

Mr Porter said Mr Gregory, who used to run badge and emblem engravers Gregory Engraving in Dereham Road, Norwich, had previously been taken ill in a game against Felthorpe and, for a while, had switched to umpiring games.

But he said: “He lived for his cricket and his family knew he was nuts about it.

“He was a genuinely nice guy and this is a sad loss for cricket in Norfolk. He will be sadly missed. At the league we would like to pass on our condolences to his family.

“Before the matches next week we are asking the teams to observe a minute's silence. The Drayton A squad were asking me whether they should cancel the game next week but we decided Tony would not have wanted that. He would have wanted the game he loved to carry on being played.”

James Kay, from Drayton Cricket Club, said: “Everyone involved with Drayton will tell you there's a real family spirit about the club and this really does feel akin to losing a member of the family.

“We were talking about Tony on Saturday night and people were saying that they had grown up with Tony.

“They had known him since they were about six-years-old and ended up growing up and playing alongside him. He was a great bloke and we will miss him desperately.

“He loved to be involved with everything and had done everything there is to do at Drayton Cricket Club. He really was Mr Drayton.

“The first team have got to play at Yarmouth, where it happened, next week and that is going to be difficult for them to do. But I am really pleased they are going to have the minute's silence across all the games. That's touching.”

Keir Hounsome, chairman of Norfolk Cricket Board and former chairman of the Norfolk Cricket League, said: “This is desperately sad news.

“Tony was a great servant to Norfolk cricket and a smashing personality. He will be much missed.”

In June Mr Gregory, who lived in Frettenham with his partner Pat, spoke of his pride that Drayton's A team had won the Norfolk League's Spirit of Cricket Award two years running and hoped to make it a hat trick.

The club, which has been based at the King George VI playing field since 1948, has had its share of star quality over the years, with regular appearances by members of the Sutton football family.

Father Mike, an opening batsman, is one of the club's longest serving players and still plays for the A team, while his footballing sons Chris and John have also paraded their talents over the years.

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