Warwickshire Members are a wonderfully diverse lot and each one has his or her own special passion for the Bears. But there are not too many who had Bob Wyatt as a boyhood hero.... as was the case for Tony Collett.
Tony, who will turn 93 this month, has been a Warwickshire Member for seven decades. That is the sort of longstanding loyalty and support that is the lifeblood of any big club.
The Bears are proud to have Tony as a Member… and he admits that his membership of the club has given him endless pleasure over the years.
“I have always been, and still am, really proud to be a member of Warwickshire County Cricket Club,” said Tony, who was born and brought up in Nuneaton. “I have so many wonderful memories about Warwickshire cricket and I hope to be there again when spectators are allowed back in. I saw every minute of the 1957 Test match as a country member and I would have been at Edgbaston for the Test this year!
“I became a Member because I’m a Warwickshire lad and have always been a cricket fan. I applied for membership in 1950 and was put on a waiting-list and became a Member the following year which was quite a year, of course…we won the county championship.Tony Collett
“That was a tremendous year. I remember the two big games towards the end of the season, against Lancashire and Yorkshire. We beat Yorkshire and there were about 25,000 in the ground. Tom Dollery scored a wonderful century.
“We had a terrific team with Gardner and Spooner, Townsend and Grove, Weeks, Tom Pritchard and, of course, Dollery and Eric Hollies. They were the big two – they can’t be separated.
“My boyhood hero was Bob Wyatt before the war, then immediately after the war were good years when Warwickshire were building the team and the ground. I remember sitting on the wooden benches and watching these great players.
“I went on my own or with pals and colleagues from work. In the 1960s we had a game every year in Nuneaton at the Griff & Coton ground and that was quite an event.”
Seeing his beloved Warwickshire win the championship in his first year as a member was quite a start for Tony…and well over half a century of great memories have followed.
“I’ve been to Lord’s on several occasions for the Gillette Cup and Nat West Trophy finals,” he recalls. “They were memorable years with great players like Rohan Kanhan and Lance Gibbs and then the years with Dermot Reeve and that wonderful year when we won the treble and only missed the other trophy by losing in the final.
“There are so many wonderful memories and players. Asif Din and that wonderful innings in the final. Allan Donald…what a fine overseas player. He really settled down as a Warwickshire player an put everything in for the county, just like Jonathan Trott did a little bit later.
“Dennis Amiss, Tom Cartwright and Ian Bell could truly be described as great English players – and all Warwickshire born, of course. I saw Tom make a double century in Nuneaton
“I think Bell is perhaps Warwickshire’s best ever batsman and such a delightful player to watch, a la Tom Dollery.
“Then there were fine players like Andy Moles and Gladstone Small and, coming right up to the present day, Chris Woakes a wonderful cricketer and, by all accounts, a wonderful chap.”
Tony is a fiercely proud member of Warwickshire who has chosen to donate his 2020 subscription to the Club. He is also a much valued member of the Bears family…a family which has always included special people in so many roles; members, players and behind-the-scenes drivers like the great Leslie Deakins.
“Leslie Deakins was a lovely man, kindly, readily approachable and above all extremely modest,” said Tony. “He is fondly remembered as a wonderful secretary who established Warwickshire as truly ‘first class.'”
First class…that describes Leslie Deakins perfectly. It also describes the great club that is Warwickshire and our wonderful members like Tony Collett.