It was with great sadness that the Club learnt of the death of Brian Emmett in October 2019 after a lengthy battle with cancer. Brian spent 7 years at the club at the end of the 1970’s through to 1985. He held prominent positions every year, from Youth Team manager in 1979, 2nd XI captain in 1980, 1st XI captain in 1981 & 1982 and finally Sunday XI captain between 1983 and 1985. The bare facts of Brian’s Rayleigh career read in excess of 1700 runs scored from 180 innings with a top score of 66 and 250 wickets from 1300 overs at the highly respectable average of under 17 runs per wicket. His best season with the ball occurred in 1982 when he took 69 wickets at an average of 12.92 and claimed the Bowling Cup with figures of 8-65. What was more remarkable was that he had changed his bowling action that very season, replacing his military medium pace with slow right arm. Brian often defeated batsmen with his wily use of flight and lack of pace, but certainly not with off-spin as he never spun a ball all season !! He was also a key member of the Mid-Essex Division 2 winning side in 1984.
Brian was a true character in every sense of the word. He had a multitude of stories that would captivate and amuse (though none that can be repeated here !) especially the younger players fresh out of school/college. He was certainly in his element during the 1981 tour of Devon reducing poor Malcolm Sparrow to tears over a fake flat tyre “incident” and during the 1984 tour to Bath. He always seemed to have a permanent tan and on one occasion was consoled by the home umpire at Chignal who apologised for having to give him out lbw. Unfortunately the player in question given out was none other than our local Pakistani newsagent Mohammed Khaki !!
Brian’s true legacy though was with his development and mentoring of a host of young players who have gone on to serve Rayleigh CC with great distinction. Phil Wolff, Andy Thurogood, John Wright, Willie Leadbeater and Tony Catling were all taken under his wing and very much looked upon Brian as a mentor/father figure at the time. His great belief in their talent and ability was without doubt paramount in them not only becoming major players at the Club but probably ensuring they remained at Rayleigh CC in those formative years. At the time Rayleigh was well served with a number of senior players who will always intrinsically be associated with Brian, including Chris Baker, Jim Harding, Ralph Adler, Stuart Pinkerton and Harry Walker, Brad’s dad. It’s fair to say that their like will probably never be seen again and in the subsequent 35 years certainly never replicated. Brian was also highly instrumental in the staging of the popular and successful traditional summer Barn Dances held at David Pinkerton’s Lubards farm where over 350 people would be in attendance.
Some of us were fortunate enough to meet up with Brian and his son Darren when they popped over to watch the 3rd XI at Woodham Mortimer a few years back and it was great to see him once more as he had moved down to Cornwall over 20 years previously. He will be greatly missed.