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Rainham stalwart Burr recalls upset of Gidea Park in Recorder Cup final

PUBLISHED: 13:00 29 May 2020

Rainham's Graham Burr (left) after his first century for the club against Over CC on tour in Cambridge, with Peter Gregory (right) after a double century stand

Rainham's Graham Burr (left) after his first century for the club against Over CC on tour in Cambridge, with Peter Gregory (right) after a double century stand

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Graham Burr has been playing for Rainham for 43 years, since 1977, and one of his earliest matches remains a vivid highlight.

Rainham's Graham BurrRainham's Graham Burr

The 58-year-old is the oldest current playing member at the Spring Farm Park club, pipping Nick Thwaites (57) and Peter Reynolds (56), and was looking forward to another summer with the 3rd XI in 2020.

But when asked for his most favourable memory at the club, he was clear of his choice.

“Back in the day I loved fielding and in my first year at the club, I was only 15 and we played Gidea Park in the Recorder Cup (15 eight-ball overs) final,” he said.

“We were so unfancied. They were the best side in the area and they thought they’d smash us, but Bruce Adams was man of the match and Ken Preston, the Essex player, did the presentations.

A cutting from the Romford Recorder of a young Graham Burr in action for RainhamA cutting from the Romford Recorder of a young Graham Burr in action for Rainham

“It was a very low scoring game but we came out winners on the night and I felt I helped the team by taking two crucial catches.”

Burr has lived in Rainham all his life, attending school at what is now the Harris Academy, and playing for the club in five different decades thus far.

“I did have a few years when I was growing up when I went AWOL,” he admitted. “But by and large, I’ve been connected to the club since 1977 and it’s great. As it stands now, compared to the head count then, it’s changed so much.”

Burr describes himself as ‘mostly a middle-order bat’ who might find himself anywhere in the order from opening to number 10, depending on where captain Thwaites puts him.

A newspaper cutting of Rainham's Recorder Cup success against Gidea Park & Romford in 1977, with Graham Burr fourth from left in the team photoA newspaper cutting of Rainham's Recorder Cup success against Gidea Park & Romford in 1977, with Graham Burr fourth from left in the team photo

He also enjoys wicketkeeping and still dons the gloves now and then, but career-best details were somewhat sketchy.

“I did score a couple of centuries and there was a photo of me in the Recorder once when I’d scored 82, with five sixes,” he added.

“I enjoy standing up to the stumps when keeping and would try to watch Dave Goldsmith, from Gidea Park, closely when we played them. He was the best I’ve seen and I think he was the Essex back-up at the time to Neil Smith.

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“I’ve had four catches in an innings and there have been a few last-ball wins over the years, but nothing really stands out.

“The social side has never been as good as it is now and the committee has about 15 these days, when for years it was three blokes and a dog and all written on the back of a cigarette box!

“I’ve taken on the role of treasurer for the last five or six years. Thwaites said me working in payroll it would be a natural transition and there wasn’t much to it!

“He has got so much enthusiasm and has been fantastic for the club over 20 years or so. His best mate Rob Hill played for us and Nick played in the weeks and months up until he died, then carried on.

“The club has really increased in size, with four Saturday XIs now, and people like Pete Reynolds have also got so much enthusiasm.

“I’ve got a lot of respect for Pete, he is special and has kept the club going. I’m getting a bit emotional! Back in the 70s there were very few youngsters and no colts teams. It’s a shame this (coronavirus) has happened, all training stopped. If they find something else to do, will you get them back?”

Burr has never had any second thoughts about digging out his own cricket kit each spring, though, and says he has no retirement target in mind.

“I still enjoy it,” he said. “I play vets football for Horndon, play golf society days, go running and cycling. I’ve had a foot problem over the years and two or there cortisone injections.

“But the 3rd XI has got half a dozen of us all the same age, like Kenny Sims, John Wratton, Thwaites, and what started out as a fun team has gone up from Mid-Essex Division 11 to Division Five. We’ve had a lot of promotions and have still got that competitive edge, but we’ve also blooded the youngsters and now we’ve got a 4th XI as there’s not enough space.”

Citing Ian Botham and Graham Gooch as two cricketing heroes, Burr also named a few opponents who have caught the eye.

“I’m a big Essex supporter and saw the first final win at Lord’s,” he added.

“Ardleigh Green were always a force. Keith Mitchell was an amazing bowler and Roy Smith, a bit after me, was different class with the bat, probably the highest scorer in the area.

“The quickest I ever faced was Peter Costa of Trojans and Bill Garner, the ex-Chelsea player, got a hundred against us one day, so did Vince Hilaire.

“Chris Gladwin played against us at Spring Farm Park and got a 50 and so did I on the same day. We got to know each other well.”


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