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‘A true Suffolk legend’ - Tributes paid to Suffolk cricket stalwart Norman Atkins

PUBLISHED: 13:06 18 March 2020 | UPDATED: 13:07 18 March 2020

Norman Atkins has been described as a 'true Suffolk legend' after his death at the age of 81. Picture: SUFFOLK CCA

Norman Atkins has been described as a 'true Suffolk legend' after his death at the age of 81. Picture: SUFFOLK CCA

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The cricket community has come together to pay tribute to ‘Mr Suffolk Cricket’ Norman Atkins, writes Nick Garnham.

Norman Atkins was a vital part of cricket in Suffolk. Picture: SUFFOLK CCANorman Atkins was a vital part of cricket in Suffolk. Picture: SUFFOLK CCA

The former Suffolk County Cricket Club Chairman, who was 81, passed away suddenly on Monday following a short illness, after undergoing a triple heart bypass operation last September.

He succeeded Martin Corke as chairman of Suffolk County Cricket Club in 1994.

When Suffolk Cricket Board was formed in 1997, Norman became chairman of the Board and the County Club, a role he continued to hold until he stepped down as Board chairman in April 2009.

He was replaced by Andrew Squire as Suffolk CCC Chairman in December to take on the role of president.

Norman had been involved with St Margaret’s Cricket Club in Ipswich almost since its inception. By his own admission he was never a particularly good batsman or bowler, but he found his niche in administration.

He took on the role of assistant secretary at St Margaret’s CC in Ipswich in 1961, and had been the club’s secretary since 1964.

The Suffolk team that drew with Cambridgeshire in the Unicorns Championship at Ipswich School. Back row (left to right): Jaik Mickleburgh, Ben Shepperson, Mike Comber, James Poulson, Kyran Young, Jack Beaumont (12th man), Josh Cantrell, Alex Oxley, Tom Rash. Front row: Paul Davidge (coach), Darren Ironside, Toby Pound (secretary), Norman Atkins (Chairman), Adam Mansfield (captain), Andy Broome (scorer), Ollie Bocking, Andy Northcote (head coach). Photograph: NICK GARNHAMThe Suffolk team that drew with Cambridgeshire in the Unicorns Championship at Ipswich School. Back row (left to right): Jaik Mickleburgh, Ben Shepperson, Mike Comber, James Poulson, Kyran Young, Jack Beaumont (12th man), Josh Cantrell, Alex Oxley, Tom Rash. Front row: Paul Davidge (coach), Darren Ironside, Toby Pound (secretary), Norman Atkins (Chairman), Adam Mansfield (captain), Andy Broome (scorer), Ollie Bocking, Andy Northcote (head coach). Photograph: NICK GARNHAM

Norman, who was born in Ipswich on April 8th, 1938, had also been chairman of the Two Counties Championship for nearly 30 years and was a well-respected Minor Counties umpire for around 20 years.

He was awarded the MBE in 1998 for his services as chief clerk of Ipswich and Bury St Edmunds Crown Courts.

Norman was also a lifelong supporter of both Ipswich Town, where he was a season-ticket holder, and a regular on the back straight at Foxhall from where he watched his equally beloved Ipswich Witches.

But it was within the local cricket community that he will be best remembered.

Suffolk CCC Secretary Toby Pound said: “I am struggling to come to terms with the fact that, for the first time in 25 years, I will be at Suffolk home matches without Norman alongside me.

“In the 25 years we worked together in Suffolk cricket, I don’t recall an argument or a cross word. Fortunately, we had a similar outlook on life and sport which makes the prospect of not having Norman around rather a bleak one.

Suffolk cricket legend Norman Atkins has died aged 81. Picture: SUFFOLK CCASuffolk cricket legend Norman Atkins has died aged 81. Picture: SUFFOLK CCA

“His contribution to cricket in Suffolk at club, league and county level was quite unique. He will be greatly missed by all his many friends across the cricketing fraternity.”

Former Suffolk captain Phil Caley, who is now Interim Director of Cricket for the National Counties, said: “He did so much for cricket throughout Suffolk for umpteen years and he will be sorely missed.

“He was a smashing bloke who was very mild-mannered and one of the few people who called me Philip!”

Suffolk Cricket Performance Lead Andy Northcote said: “Norman was a true Suffolk legend in every sense of the word. A life servant to the game as chairman, umpire, player, coach, parent and supporter.

“My wife had just returned from a week in hospital and Norman, who had never met her, knocked on the door in his Suffolk blazer and tie, a bunch of flowers and goodies and a supportive note to wish her well.”

Rob Jones, Cricket Operations Manager at Suffolk Cricket Board, said: “Norman is a great loss to the cricket community, especially the County Club, the Two Counties and his beloved St Margaret’s CC.

Norman Atkins, far right back row, with the Suffolk team that won the Eastern Division of the Minor Counties Championship in 2005 and shared the championship shield with Cheshire after the play-off at Ransomes Sports Ground was rain-affected Picture: SUFFOLK CCANorman Atkins, far right back row, with the Suffolk team that won the Eastern Division of the Minor Counties Championship in 2005 and shared the championship shield with Cheshire after the play-off at Ransomes Sports Ground was rain-affected Picture: SUFFOLK CCA

“Personally I will miss his witty one liners, dry sense of humour and his passion for the game.”

St Margaret’s CC Chairman Nigel Howlett said: “Norman’s commitment to the cause of cricket and particularly that of St Margaret’s CC could never be faulted; he battled long and hard to ensure that the threat to close Ransomes Sports Ground never materialised.

“He was a fervent supporter of youth cricket, and until last season was always at Ransomes on Monday evenings casting an eye over the latest crop of youngsters who were attending youth coaching at the ground.”

Norman leaves wife Maureen, who he married in 1963, children Sandra and Andrew and two grandchildren, Megan and Alexander.


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