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Founding Fathers honoured at PCA Past Players’ Day

Almost 90 former county and international players joined in the Professional Cricketers’ Association’s 50th Anniversary at a special day at the Cheltenham Cricket Festival.

The PCA’s popular Past Players’ Day again attracted players from across the generations with PCA Chairman Daryl Mitchell, a current Worcestershire batsman, the youngest at 33 and Roy Booth, the former Yorkshire and Worcestershire wicketkeeper, the oldest at 90.

This year’s event, on the second day of Gloucestershire’s Specsavers County Championship match against Glamorgan, reunited Fred Rumsey, Mike Smedley, Eric Russell and Don Shepherd, four of the Founding Fathers of the players’ union who attended the inaugural meeting in 1967 along with Harold Goldblatt, an accountant who played a significant behind-the-scenes role in the establishment of what was initially called the Cricketers’ Association.

“The organisation has done everything that I hoped it would do and more. It’s now a very polished organisation.” Rumsey said.

“There are still things that it can do but it is covering all the fears that I had as a young man when I decided to form the Association.

“I am proud of the way that players’ welfare is now looked after. I am happy that they have cleared the backlog of special registrations. The money is better, they negotiate contracts better and the PCA Benevolent Fund covers them for sickness and injury and after they have finished playing, any problems they encounter.”

Rumsey first floated the idea of a players’ union in 1966 when he circulated to the 17 first-class counties. Despite opposition from the cricketing establishment – then the MCC – he gained sufficient support to convene the inaugural meeting in the Daily Express offices in London’s Fleet Street after the 1967 season.

“The fortunate thing in my situation was that I didn’t care. If they wanted to attack me they could attack me. I was prepared to take them on,” Rumsey said.

“I would have been prepared to go the media and the law courts to fight them. I didn’t give a damn about them.

“It wasn’t so much bravery than not caring less. I didn’t like their views on how players should fall into their way of life so I was quite happy to take them on.

“If you are going to be involved in what is nothing less than a union you are sticking your neck out with your employers. Your employers don’t like having to deal with people who say: we don’t like how you are doing things, we’d like to do it this way because it suits the players.”

Rumsey and Russell were among 20 former Test players at Cheltenham which was also attended by sponsors and PCA staff.

Between them the former players boasted 17,909 first-class appearances, 603,355 runs and 23,457 wickets.

Former players who attended this year’s PCA Past Players’ Day were: John Aldridge (Worcestershire), Iain Anderson (Derbyshire), Phil Bainbridge (Gloucestershire and Durham), Roy Booth (Yorkshire and Worcestershire), Tony Borrington (Derbyshire), Andy Brassington (Gloucestershire), David Brown (Gloucestershire), Ray Bailey (Northamptonshire), Rodney Cass (Essex and Worcestershire), David Constant (Kent and Leicestershire), Chris Cowdrey (Kent and Glamorgan), Brian Crump (Northamptonshire), Jim Cumbes (Lancashire, Surrey, Worcestershire and Warwickshire), Winston Davis (Glamorgan and Northamptonshire), Alan Dixon (Kent), Richard Ellis (Gloucestershire and Middlesex), Kevin Emery (Hampshire), Bob Entwistle (Lancashire), Duncan Fearnley (Worcestershire), Graeme Fowler (Lancashire and Durham), Graham Frost (Nottinghamshire), Norman Gifford (Worcestershire and Warwickshire), Edward Greenhalgh (Lancashire), David Graveney (Gloucestershire, Somerset and Durham), Brian Hall (Worcestershire),  Mike Harris (Middlesex and Nottinghamshire), Basharat Hassan (Nottinghamshire), Alan Hill (Derbyshire), Vanburn Holder (Worcestershire), Ron Hooker (Middlesex), Geoff Humpage (Warwickshire), Simon Hinks (Kent and Gloucestershire), Dean Hodgson (Warwickshire and Gloucestershire), John Inchmore (Worcestershire), John Jameson (Warwickshire), Keith Jones (Warwickshire), Tim Lamb (Middlesex and Northamptonshire), David Leatherdale (Worcestershire), Jamie McDowall (Warwickshire), Rajesh Maru (Middlesex and Hampshire), Colin Metson (Middlesexx and Glamorgan), Daryl Mitchell (Worcestershire), Graham Monkhouse (Surrey), Charlie Mulraine (Warwickshire), John Murray (Middlesex), Niall O’Brien (Kent, Northamptonshire and Leicestershire), Chris Old (Yorkshire and Warwickshire), Dudley Owen-Thomas (Surrey), Ken Palmer (Somerset), Roy Palmer (Somerset), David Partridge (Gloucestershire), Derek Pearson (Worcestershire), Pat Pocock (Surrey), Mike Procter (Gloucestershire), John Price (Middlesex), Neal Radford (Lancashire and Worcestershire), Perry Rendell (Somerset), Harold Rhodes (Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire), Bryan Richardson (Warwickshire), Dick Richardson (Worcestershire), Nigel Ross (Middlesex), Fred Rumsey (Worcestershire, Somerset and Derbyshire), Eric Russell (Middlesex), Don Shepherd (Glamorgan), Ken Shuttleworth (Lancashire), Mike Smedley (Nottinghamshire), David Smith (Derbyshire), Mike Smith (Warwickshire), David Steele (Northamptonshire and Derbyshire), John Steele (Leicestershire and Glamorgan), Andy Stovold (Gloucestershire), Bill Taylor (Nottinghamshire), Bob Taylor (Derbyshire), Greg Thomas (Glamorgan and Northamptonshire), Ian Thomas (Glamorgan), Roger Vowles (Nottinghamshire), Mark Wallace (Glamorgan), Matthew Wheeler (Northamptonshire), Bob White (Middlesex and Nottinghamshire).

The PCA’s 50thAnniversary history film can be viewed here.