‘A wonderful ambassador for the county’ - tributes paid to Suffolk sporting stalwart Keith Cracknell
Heartfelt tributes have been paid to Copdock & Old Ipswichian Cricket Club Chairman and Leiston FC Board member Keith Cracknell, after he passed away at the age of 73, writes Nick Garnham.
The former Suffolk County Cricket Club Vice-Chairman died suddenly at his home in Walton, Felixstowe on Monday, November 26th.
After leaving school he served his apprenticeship as a carpenter, progressing his career through the building industry before a chance meeting in the early 1980s with Derek Brooks and Tony Wood led to him joining Brooks & Wood as a director.
He worked for the Ipswich building and civil engineering company until his retirement in December 2016, staying on as a consultant for a further year.
Cracknell, who was raised in Bedingfield, was wicket-keeper and captain of Falconers CC, where he also looked after the wicket, during his playing days.
Through Cracknell and fellow director Tony Wood, Brooks & Wood got involved in local sports sponsorship, firstly with the Ipswich indoor cricket side in the National League and then Suffolk CCC.
Kevin Brooks first met Cracknell more than 30 years ago when managing the indoor cricket stadium in Ipswich before becoming Suffolk’s Director of Cricket.
He said: “His infectious nature had an immediate impact as soon as he got involved with Suffolk as I knew it would and well before his appointment as Vice Chairman.
“He became a wonderful ambassador for the county and still was despite no longer serving on the committee.
“He has always been welcomed back with open arms by the opposing counties wherever Suffolk were playing, often receiving invitations to join their respective committee members for lunch and tea such was his popularity on the circuit.
“On a personal note Keith, Hazel and I have shared many special times together not just to do with cricket but in other walks of life too, however so far as cricket was concerned none that compared to the day Suffolk won the Minor Counties KO Cup Final in August 2007.
“There was certainly no prouder person at Lord’s that day than Keith.”
Cracknell took over as chairman of Copdock & OI CC in November 2016 after a year’s apprenticeship as vice-chairman to stalwart Steve Gauke.
Club official Martin Taylor said: “In his all-too-brief time he brought warmth, energy and his own unique sense of purpose to the club.
“In his first year he played a very important part in the drive to complete the pavilion extension and refurbishment, and amongst a list of so many things to remember him by was his solid support for a young Copdock side battling in the EAPL in attending most games home and away with Hazel.”
It was around seven years ago that Cracknell, who was also a member of Essex CCC, went to watch Stuart Boardley, one of his employees, play for Leiston FC. This led to him becoming Financial Board Member and a Vice-President of the club.
Boardley, who ironically is now a director of Brooks & Wood and recently returned to Leiston as first-team manager, wrote in Saturday’s match programme: “Keith was a true gentleman, a man whose door was always open and someone you could rely upon whenever you needed him.
“The last few days have undoubtedly been a very sombre time at both Brooks & Wood and Copdock Cricket club as well as at this Football Club and many other communities that Keith was at the heart of which is a testament to the man that has touched so many people.”
Leiston FC Chairman Andy Crisp added: “He was very instrumental in the growth of the football club as both a Board member and a supporter.”
Keith met his long-time partner Hazel in the early 1980s. He leaves his two daughters, Emma and Tracey, and Tracey and son-in-law Richard’s two children, Josh and Lily. Hazel had three daughters – Jane, Sally and Wendy – who between them have four grandchildren and seven great grandchildren.