Obituary - Neil Edwards
Honorary Secretary of the League Cricket Conference for over thirty years
The devastating shock news of Neil’s death at the age of 69 in August 2015 produced an outpouring of grief throughout recreational cricket in England and Wales.
Neil, a stalwart of cricket administration, had been Secretary of the League Cricket Conference for in excess of 40 years. He was ‘the dynamic’ which enabled the League Cricket Conference to flourish and become recognised as one of the key stakeholders in the recreational game. Yet Neil would never have seen it as a “one man show”, although, in truth, for many years it was.
Neil believed in the concept of the team working together for the betterment of Cricket. The many messages from Cricket Leagues across the Country had a consistent theme namely ‘his helpfulness and consideration”. One League Secretary wrote “Neil tried to be so helpful to everyone” whilst another stated “Neil was the person you would first turn to, if you had even a minor query”.
Neil, who worked for Norwich Union for many years, had time for everyone. He was an inspiration to many, finding solutions to what appeared to others intractable problems. On moving to County Durham in the early 1970s, Neil joined Burnmoor Cricket Club where his passion for cricket was clear to all. He raised £1,500.00 in fund raising, a considerable sum in those days, so that the Club could engage an overseas’ professional. There followed a series of fund raising events which enabled this proud Club to prosper. This included the Club being able to sign a young Australian Paul Hibbert who was to later play Test Cricket for ‘the Green and Gold’.
Neil was a wonderful motivator to those around him in all walks of life. He got people to volunteer for anything. Yet, despite all these responsibilities placed on his shoulders, he remained calm and engaging. He also found the time to play the game he loved being a right handed batsman and a left arm medium pace bowler. After moving back to Lancashire, his County of Birth, in the early 1980s Neil became a loyal servant of Formby Cricket Club.
Neil, on becoming Secretary of the League Cricket Conference in the 1980s, soon impressed, gaining an in depth knowledge of the Work Permit Regulations which many clubs used over the next three decades when bringing Overseas Players into this Country. He was at the forefront of many campaigns to defend the cause of recreational cricket, one of his endeavours resulting in the now annual meeting in Parliament with a Committee of MPs and Lords and Ladies.
The League Cricket Conference at the same time expanded from being a bastion of Northern Leagues to a National Organisation, boasting a membership from the South West of England to the North East. The very essence of a National Organisation would not have happened but for Neil’s endeavours and dedication.
When playing the game ceased so another chapter opened in terms of both coaching and umpiring, both ventures taken up with gusto and warmth from those around him. It is said that Neil never lost his temper or got angry with those around him despite the cricketing responsibilities which he imposed upon himself. A dedicated man of cricket there can be no doubt
Neil was personally respected by the England and Wales Cricket Board, these contacts ensuring Club and League Cricket could prosper. Neil was one of the drivers in the establishment of the National Cricket Conference comprising the Club Cricket Conference, The Midland Club Cricket Conference and his beloved League Cricket Conference.
Cricket was also not the only beneficence of Neil’s energy and expertise, for Neil as Chairman of The Sefton Sports Council over many years, enhanced the sporting opportunity for the population in this area of Merseyside
It is perhaps fitting that one concludes by sharing the words of the Secretary of the Northern League who so eloquently wrote “his passing will never be replaced by any one with as much passion, professionalism and enthusiasm as Neil gave”. Neil will be remembered as both a doyen of cricket administration and a friend to us all in the game of Cricket.
Neil married Jean Burke in 1969. She survives him together with their two daughters.
Neil Edwards, born 15th November 1945, died 8th August 2015.
Prepared by Malcolm Buck
League Cricket Conference Executive Member
National Cricket Conference Director
11th October 2015
Prepared from the many tributes received from friends across the Country with particular mention to Ian Linsley - Secretary of Burnmoor Cricket Club County Durham and John Isterling of the League Cricket Conference.