Charlie Mortimore MBE

1928 – 2019

Charles Mortimore collects his MBE

It was with great sadness that members of Cove Cricket Club recently heard of the passing of Charles Mortimore (Charlie) at 91 years of age. Charlie had served the club for almost 60 years both as an outstanding player and club official and has left behind a legacy that will be almost impossible for anyone to replicate.

 At 11 years of age Charlie attended Farnborough Grammar School where each year he captained the relevant football and cricket teams. He then moved on to the prestigious Loughborough College to train as a Physical Education Teacher before undertaking a two year National Service stint in the R.A.F.

In 1951 Charlie returned home to Keith Lucas Road in Cove and was appointed to Cove Secondary Modern School as a Sports Master and Geography teacher. He had been playing cricket with Cove Cricket Club whenever possible but at this stage he was able to fully commit himself to the club.

The club was playing on Cove Green at that time and in 1951 Charlie was immediately appointed Captain. The line-up of players included his brother John, Bob and Ron Stratton, a few Cove teachers and local players from the village. Charlie soon showed himself to be an astute and accomplished batsman scoring the first recorded hundred for the club in 1952 (108 not out) and then going on to score the next 3 recorded centuries for the club in 1954, 1956 and 1957.

Charlie was a gifted all-rounder but despite great batting prowess he is perhaps best remembered as a right arm spin bowler. Some may not be aware that he started his Cove career as a talented fast bowler. After a few years playing for Cove he was heard to comment on the fact that he couldn’t see the point in running 20 yards when he could take 3 steps and still take wickets so changed to spin

In 1962 Charlie managed to achieve an impressive 10 wickets for 30 runs. Unfortunately for Charlie, this was not a club record as his brother John had managed to achieve 10 wickets for just 6 runs before him and try as he might Charlie was never able to match that.

In that same year 1962 at the AGM of the club, which was held in the newly opened pavilion on Cove Green, Charlie was instrumental in the decision that the club should attempt to find its own ground. Charlie then became Club Chairman in 1967 and it was shortly after this that the club’s 1St XI started playing league cricket on the ACC ground along the Queen’s Avenue as Cove Green was simply not meeting the needs of the standard of cricket the team was playing at that time.

Throughout this time Charlie had also been using his influence to encourage talented cricketers from local schools and players who had moved into the area to come and join us. Reg Stratton, John Bridges, Bill and Reg Dowse were already playing for the club and they were soon joined by the likes of, Keith Wheatley, Reg Walker, Keith Ashton, Lance Morley, Robbie Evison and John Swannell.

In 1970 work began on the club’s very own ground and the building of a pavilion at Grasmere Road, Cove. By then the first eleven had been joined by Bob Pratt, Jeff Smith and Roger Barson to make it a force to be reckoned with.

Many club members helped in the construction of the new clubhouse laying the foundations and once the brickwork was completed working on all the fixtures and fittings. It was a mammoth team effort led by Bob Stratton and Rowland Smith. Charlie was ever present during the building offering encouragement and cups of tea! The first game was played at the new ground in the summer of 1972 with Charlie proudly leading the 1st XI onto the field.

In 1989 Charlie was appointed Club President a role he deservedly retained throughout the rest of his life. He was without doubt the leading force and backbone in leading the club to higher standards and at the same time earning the respect of all within the county. Indeed Charlie was always held in the greatest of respect not only by all club members but by officials and players of clubs throughout local leagues and county.

The walls of Cove Cricket Club today are testimony to Charlie’s amazing record of achievements as a great local cricketer and member of the club. However it is his unwritten achievements that should not be overlooked. He played a large part in the development of Colts Cricket at Cove. Along with other key players of his time Charlie was an inspirational example to all the younger players and the majority would move up to play adult cricket as a result.

Charlie remained a formidable cricketer throughout his playing career. Once his playing days were over he never lost his enthusiasm for the club and would be found every weekend without fail sitting on the boundary critically watching the state of play and chatting to players and spectators. Once he was unable to visit the club he was updated regularly by his good friend Alan Humphries who visited him each week at Willow House.

Charlie will be remembered as an outstanding cricketer, a true gentleman and legend of his time. He was always courteous, smartly dressed and totally committed to the cricket club he loved. It cannot be stressed enough the enormous part that Charlie played in raising up a little village cricket team into a much respected league side. All who knew Charlie are proud to have done so and his legacy lives on. He will never be forgotten.

Listen to the tribute to Charlie from BBC Surrey Sport In Focus with Tim Durrans. We thank them for their permission to use, copyright remains that of the BBC.