Sadly our Life President, John Monk, died on Monday 14 October 2002 and was buried at Rochford on 24 October. John had three loves in life, his family, his work and his cricket. John played cricket for Rayleigh Cricket Club for 67 years which is a remarkable achievement by any standards and he was our President for the last 16 years.
He played for the first XI from 1934 to 1954 apart from his absence during the war. He was a demon fast bowler in his youth and took 10 wickets in one game early in his career and also scored several centuries. This at a time when the club was playing against the leading club sides in Essex but the details of these exploits are lost in the mists of time.
From 1955 he played for the Second XI for 39 years including 16 years as captain. During the later years many of our current senior players joined the club as 16 and 17 year olds and played under John’s captaincy and remember fondly his ‘one in, one out’ field placing theory. Despite the fact that he was at least 40 years older than most of the rest of the team he was as fit and more energetic than most of his young charges. Many of these players have said how much they enjoyed playing their cricket with John. It is a tribute to his leadership that so many of these players are still playing at the club.
Journeys to away games could be quite disconcerting as John always drove and on the way he would regularly point out houses where people lived he had played against years ago often taking his eyes off the road for quite some time whilst he talked animatedly about some past game against the occupant of the house. This could be quite hair raising particularly on the Z bends on the old road to Burnham but they always got there safely. John also did a lot of work on pitch preparation and he was sometimes to be seen working on the pitch in the pouring rain.
Just as he was reaching the twilight of his career we started a third and then a fourth and even briefly a fifth team and on each occasion John would say how glad he was we’d started another team for him to play in. Even though he was in his late seventies and early eighties he would still bat well and score at least one fifty every year. He also held some excellent catches in the slips.
As President of the Club he captained his side in the annual match against the Club XI, picked the strongest side possible and he said “I know its only a friendly but I intend to win” and he usually did! That was how he played his cricket hard but always fair.
He was also a keen golfer and achieved a hole in one at Hanover Golf Club in 1999 when he was 81.
John was a talented sportsman but there was more. On the occasion of his 60th anniversary game he wrote in the match programme that nobody had enjoyed their cricket more and quoted from an American writer, Woodward.
” When the one great scorer comes to write against your name He will not write how you won or lost, but how you played the game.”
Those words are so apposite to John. He played to win but on and off the field he was a gentlemen well respected by his own players and the opposition alike. He was a happy, friendly and generous man who had friends in many clubs throughout Essex. He loved to see young players doing well and always encouraged them to improve. He openly acknowledged the support given to him by his family during his playing days and he and all his family supported our social functions for many years. He was so excited about the prospect of our new ground but sadly he will not see it come to fruition.
John, you have left us with very many happy memories. You will be remembered for how you played the game with enthusiasm, sportmanship and friendship.