Kenilworth: Course open. trolleys and buggies permitted.
The first Sportsmen's Night of 2019 brought Geoff Miller on a return visit to Kenilworth Golf Club. Chairman Derrick Richardson told us of his previous visit around 21 years ago when the series of such events had just begun. He told us that Geoff was one of the best speakers that we had had in that time - and at the end of the evening the audience would agree that he was now two of the best speakers we had had.
Derrick began in his usual way by telling us one of his jokes - and fortunately it was one of his better ones - in fact it is likely that he received more guffaws than groans at the end of it which was something of a novelty. He then introduced Geoff Miller by reading his extensive CV - compiled it would seem from the internet - and at one point he had Geoff standing up and looking at what was written with a quizzical look on his face.
Derrick began with a joke
Derrick and Geoff Miller OBE
When Derrick had concluded his introduction Geoff strode out from behind the table to the area of floor in front which spanned the room and that became his stage. Just as Derrick had done, he proceeded to tell us of his history in the top class cricket world but he was able to give us a lot more detail. Before he got into that though he recounted an incident when he was on a train recently and he seemed to be mistaken for a notable public figure by another passenger - who told him that he didn't like his policies and he'd make a lousy prime minister. No prizes for guessing the name of the public figure.
Geoff's cricketing prowess began as a school boy and it was clear that that easily exceeded his academic prowess. He proudly told us of his time at Chesterfield Grammar School and of his 10 O levels ............. taken. However, when it came time for him to enter the 6th form the headmaster seemed keen for him to leave the school. After a discussion the head told him to be out by Friday - and on the Friday called him into his study. There was a letter on the desk which Geoff was allowed to read. It invited him to go on a tour with the England Schoolboys team - but only if he was still at school. The head relented from his previous deadline - but said that when he got back from the tour he must leave immediately.
However, that didn't happen as a similar event took place at his next "leaving interview". This time the letter invited Geoff to captain the England schoolboys on a tour of the West Indies the following winter - as long as he was still at school. The Head relented once more and even created a special form for Geoff - the lower sixth X - and Geoff was sent to the Art Teacher to study for his art A level.
Fortunately when he returned from the West Indies he was taken on by Derbyshire Cricket Club and so he was able to satisfy the head's desires to leave the school - having brought notable fame to the school through his representation in the England Schoolboys side.
Geoff went on to tell us of his career - of the world class batsmen to whom he bowled and the world class bowlers that he faced. He proudly told us of the time when he got Viv Richards out in an international at Headingly - only to be chastised by an irate Yorkshireman who said he'd come to see Viv Richard bat - not Geoff Miller bowl. He told us of how he warmed up to face the 100 mph plus bowling of Michael Holding - by practising how to duck as quickly as possible. He admitted that he didn't know if he'd passed his art A level or not - but pointed out that when you're facing the bowling of the likes of Michael Holding, Dennis Lilley or Geoff Thompson having an A level in art isn't a lot of use.
His tale was one of great interest - and he told it in a very humorous and somewhat self-deprecating way as he strode up and down the room. He is a wonderful raconteur and could have been a top comic actor with his excellent timing if the talent he had for cricket had not been so high.
He finished by telling us of his talk with his Dad - back in his two up two down house in Chesterfield - after he had made his debut for England. He got a bit of a rollicking for modestly saying that it was just another game of cricket. Just another GAME??? His father told him how proud he and Mother had been when Geoff went out to bat - but his Dad was somewhat disconcerted by him having to face Holding for his first ball in test cricket. He told Geoff that he watched on the telly as Holding stormed in to bowl - but when Holding got to two yards from the wicket, Dad had to close his eyes.
Geoff finished by saying that such behaviour must be hereditary - as he had done exactly the same thing.
As was appropriate, Geoff received a standing ovation from the Kenilworth audience.