Obituary: Fred Standen, a 'true character' of village cricket

Fred Standen with the signed print of ex-England wicket keeper Jack Russell.

Fred Standen with the signed print of ex-England wicket keeper Jack Russell. - Credit: MELBOURN CC

Tributes have been paid to a Melbourn cricketer who was "a true character" of the village game. 

Frederick Harry George Standen died in January at the age of 90. 

Born on June 15, 1930, he was known and admired in local sporting circles but his main notoriety came from village cricket where he was hailed as one of the best wicket keepers around. 

He joked that he only took up station behind the stumps as that was the only way he could get onto a team and in adverse weather conditions he was sometimes seen on the field wearing a full-length raincoat. 

He also said that the fact that he only ever made one 50, playing for Melbourn against Willian, proved he was no batsman but that undermines him as a true team player and one who would more than play his part while others pushed along the score. 

Fred's first game of adult cricket for his home village of Bassingbourn at the age of 16 and he took his first honours in 1949 when Bassingbourn won the Webber Cup. 

His love of the game meant he wanted to play as much cricket as possible and as Bass didn't play on a Sunday, he joined Melbourn in 1951. 

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He stayed with the club for over 50 years, playing in eight minor league cup finals and winning four of them. 

To acknowledge and honour Fred’s long and continued service, Bishop's Stortford-based Hockerill were invited to play for the Bowen Challenge Cup at Fenners, the historic home of Cambridge University. Fred was presented with a limited edition signed portrait of ex-England wicket keeper Jack Russell. 

In 2001, 50 years after first playing for Melbourn, Fred played in a particularly memorable match away to Bugbrooke, a village in Northamptonshire. The match was played on the day of the Bugbrooke wicket keeper’s 90th birthday, Fred at the time was a mere youngster at only 71. 

Fred’s meticulous record keeping shows that he was also an excellent footballer. As an inside-left forward he played for Bassingbourn village, RAF Bassingbourn, where he did his National Service, Meldreth and Sandon. In an incredible career that started in 1946 and was cut short in the 1963-64 season, he scored a whopping 455 goals in just 442 games. 

He didn't just play sport though and was a member of the exclusive 92 club, having watched a match at all grounds in the football league. 

He saw over 400 matches at Wembley, the first being the 1949 FA Cup final, and was one of a rare breed, holding a season ticket at both Arsenal and Tottenham. 

Outside of sport Fred was active in the community and for almost 20 years he was a volunteer driver with Royston Community Transport and Heron, taking people to hospital and for shopping trips. 

He was also a lifelong supporter of SCOPE and Cancer Research charities. 

But it will be in sport where he is truly remembered and as friend Richard Cooper said: "What an innings, what a sportsman." 

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