Sidmouth Cricket Club set to say farewell to a very dear Alan Wardrop

PUBLISHED: 12:50 11 June 2019 | UPDATED: 12:29 12 June 2019

The Sidmouth first team that won the Devon League in 1988. Alan Wardrop is second from the left in the back row. Full line-up (Back row, left to right) Les Hall, Alan Wardrop, John Rhodes, Steve Palfrayman, Tim Draper, Peter Howard, George Maeer. Front row (left to right) Mike Wilcock, Steve Palfrey, Tim Lester, Drummond Johnstone, Roger Smith, Clive Bawden. Picture SIDMOUTH CC

The Sidmouth first team that won the Devon League in 1988. Alan Wardrop is second from the left in the back row. Full line-up (Back row, left to right) Les Hall, Alan Wardrop, John Rhodes, Steve Palfrayman, Tim Draper, Peter Howard, George Maeer. Front row (left to right) Mike Wilcock, Steve Palfrey, Tim Lester, Drummond Johnstone, Roger Smith, Clive Bawden. Picture SIDMOUTH CC

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Sportsman, fishermen, family man and proud Scotsman - Alan Wardrop was all of them, writes Conrad Sutcliffe.

Alan Wardrop. Picture SIDMOUTH CCAlan Wardrop. Picture SIDMOUTH CC

Wardrop, who has died aged 74, played cricket and rugby for Sidmouth before turning his attention to fly-fishing.

The father of four supported all of his children in their sporting endeavors or, in the case of son Ewan, his career in the theatre.

And no one shouted louder in support of Scotland when their international matches were on television.

"My father was born in Glasgow and very proud of the fact he was born a Scot," said son Fionn.

Alan Wardrop in the Sidmouth CC dressing room with Graham Bess. Picture SIDMOUTH CCAlan Wardrop in the Sidmouth CC dressing room with Graham Bess. Picture SIDMOUTH CC

Mum and dad - Archie and Margaret - moved to Sidmouth shortly after the Second World War ended. Dad was a vet and practiced in partnership with Peter Ikin from a surgery in Chandlers Lane.

Wardrop junior started playing rugby at Exeter School and continued his rugby career while a student at St Luke's College in Exeter.

Summer was for cricket and winter for playing rugby, mostly for Sidmouth but also clubs in London, where he worked in the late 1960s.

"Dad played full-back for Sidmouth and his old team-mates tell me he would tackle anything," said Fionn, the eldest of Alan's three sons.

Terry O'Brien, who was Sidmouth 1st XV captain in the 1970s, said his late team-mate was an 'old-school' full-back.

"We lost Alan for a few years when he moved to London and played for Woodford, but after coming down on tour with them for Easter in 1970 he soon returned to the town," said O'Brien.

"Alan was an old-school player who would catch anything that came his way and tackle anyone who came his way too.

"On the field Alan was hugely competitive; in the bar afterwards he was the life and soul."

Alan Wardrop the cricketer opened the bowling for Sidmouth's 1st XI, for whom he formed an effective partnership with Johnny Palmer.

"There was one season in the 1960s, possibly 1965, when my dad and Johnny both took more than a hundred wickets," said Fionn.

Wardrop was appointed Sidmouth captain in 1981 and the following year he led them to second spot in the table behind champions Torquay.

"That was the best position Sidmouth had finished up until then and my father was very proud to have been the captain," said Fionn.

Wardrop switched to bowling off-spin in the mid-1980s, which prolonged his 1st XI career long enough to be a member of the side that won the league title for the first time in 1988.

Wardrop carried on playing long enough to line-up with eldest son Fionn and skipper the 2nd XI before hanging up his bowling boots for good in the late 1990s. In 1993 and 1994 only Brian Davidson took more wickets than him in second-team fixtures.

The last record of Wardrop playing for a Sidmouth team was in 2000 when he appeared against the 40 club and claimed three wickets for seven runs.

"Dad went from being a committed player to an informed supporter of the rugby and the cricket clubs, always willing to talk about any game," said Fionn.

"He was not one for coaching or committees, but he would help out with jobs as well as supporting all four of us."

Sons Jamie and Fionn followed their father into the rugby and cricket clubs. Daughter Anna was a dancer and Ewan started off as a ballet dancer then switched to acting and is also an accomplished musician.

"Dad supported all of us and when Ewan's career took off he went to watch him perform all over the world," said Fionn.

Retirement from cricket and work made time for a new interest: fly-fishing with friends such as Graham Bess and Malcolm Wharton.

"The wilder the venue - Dartmoor or somewhere in Scotland - the more they all seemed to like it," said Fionn.

Alan Wardrop has a varied career before settling at the West of England School for the Partially Sighted. He stayed there for 20 years before retiring aged 65.

"My dad did not teach but became deputy head of care and worked giving the students life skills," said Fionn.

Wardrop had been fighting ill health for three years and had known for a while his condition has become terminal.

"Just as he did in sport, dad put up scrap against it," said Fionn.

"Losing was inconceivable until it happened. We saw all of that old competitive, stubborn and fighting spirit again as he fought his illness over these last few years."

Wardrop and wife Jane were married for 48 years. Between them the couple's four children gave them nine grandchildren.

Alan Wardrop's funeral will take place at the East Devon Crematorium on Monday, June 17 at 12.15pm. A reception will be held at Sidmouth CC after the service.

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