A tribute to the life of a club cricketer -
Dick Richards, Ajax Cricket Club


Jon Harris
e-mail: hennessy.harris@sympatico.ca


For many, the epitaph carved into a grave headstone would simply say “Here Lays Dick Richards. Born in England, 1924. Died August 26, 2002 in Lindsay, Ontario.”. Such stark brevity is all we know of most who have ‘shuffled off this mortal coil’.

Any activity, involving the Dick Richards I knew, was at a much quicker pace than shuffled. He first graced my life in 1964, on a rough field used by the Ajax Cricket Club. Dick was one of the founders of the club, and later was to be acknowledged as a ‘Life Member’. Having settled in the Ajax, Ontario, soon after bringing his wife Marnie and three of their children from England, he made his first tentative commitments to his new community. Subsequently his commitment to his community went far beyond the cricket field boundary.

The work, at the cricket club, started with having to create an open space out of a piece of vacant land. Such a project, without the benefit of graders, was mammoth. However, by the time I arrived on the scene, the regular and consistent circling of the ‘ground’ with domestic power mowers were showing some results. Dick’s efforts were not conducted at a ‘shuffle’. He was always on the run. Given that six acres of cutting weeds and grass had to be undertaken every week, the success of the venture was determined by hours of fast pushing of those noisy and foul-smelling machines. It seems to me that I was regularly lapped by the fast little chap who embraced an even newer migrant to his ever increasing circle. There is something symbolic about the ever increasing circle of cutting grass from the centre and the ever increasing numbers of people in the life circle of friends of Dick Richards. The success for the Ajax CC was that within a couple of years the Toronto Cricket Club accepted an invitation to visit. The success, for me, was the unstinting support and encouragement for me and my young family. His daughters and my daughters played cricket, while their ‘Dads’ tried to wrestle with the Titans.

The stories of Dick and cricket are boundless and many. In the first years of the club, he and others found and moved the first pavilion and subsequently pitched in when it had to rebuilt after a fire. During the earliest days of the Club, funds were raised by holding twice yearly dances which became the highlight of the social calendar in Ajax. Not only was Dick essential to the organizing of these events, he was often the DJ. He was the club Treasurer for many years, which often appeared more important than his 31 year career with the Royal Bank. He had a stint as captain of the 2nd XI and as such had a contretemps with the 1st XI captain, regarding who would have use of which players for the weekend. In more recent years Dick and another founder member, Jack Brooks, spent most of their mornings and afternoons at the Club going over the books and walking their dogs.

Of the many legacies of Dick’s cricket life is one of his sons, Jim Richards, who is a Grade III level umpire, an accredited scorer, a regular participant in over-40's cricket, and recently was involved in the Vancouver based International Golden Oldies Cricket Festival. My own legacy from Dick is the proud certainty that each time I meet any of his four children I will be given a hug. No man could want for more.

Quite obviously, Dick’s contribution to the development of the game in Canada, and those of countless others like him, have resulted in the status Canadian cricket currently enjoys. Lest we forget, it is to their efforts, for the love of the game, with no pretensions of being anything else other than a grassroots cricketer, that cricket is still played right across our vast country. It is fitting that Dick will permanently join his long time friend, Jack Brooks, on the Ajax Cricket Club grounds.

Stuff and Duty - Rememberances of conversations with Dick Richards (Rev. Graham Thorpe)

I first met Dick Richards in the summer of 1951. We were recently demobilised after World War 2 and were beginning family life and buying homes in the same street.

When we talked of our experiences in the services, Dick mentioned that he was in the Royal Navy and when I asked him what he
did, his reply was "Oh! Convoys and stuff." "What stuff?" was my next question; to which Dick replied jokingly something about
being stationed in Italy for a time and taking Italian signoritas for cruises in the Atlantic.

Many years later as we remained life-long friends in Canada, the subject of D-Day came up. It appeared that he was there and actually skippered a landing craft on to the beach in the first assault. "Were you carrying troops or vehicles like tanks or Bren carriers?" I asked. "Oh! No!" said Dick, "It was cans of gasoline to refuel vehicles." And I thought to myself that this was perhaps one of the most dangerous jobs that day. Gasoline cans! Under enemy fire!

Only the Royal Navy would entrust such a task to an eighteen year old midshipman. In fact, the British Naval traditions are full of stories of teenage officers acting courageously in action, because it was their duty.

The most famous Admiral of all time, himself a former teenage midshipman, is remembered even today for his message to the fleet at Trafalgar.

"England expects that every man,this day, will do his duty." And so did Dick Richards.


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