Surrey County Cricket Club are mourning the loss of Robbie Beeston, who died this week after a short illness, aged 82. His contribution to both the club and sport in the county was enormous, as Richard Spiller explains. The Club flag on the pavilion was lowered to half-mast in respect.
It takes a rare character to appear at home in all company but Robbie Beeston had that knack.
Cricket – and Surrey County Cricket Club in particular – was integral throughout his life but there was much else too.
He was proud to wear a printers union badge on his lapel in the committee room at the Kia Oval and across the country – which certainly set him apart from the other occupants – and that was indicative of Beeston’s ability to mix with everyone.
Many Surrey cricket followers will have first met Robbie through the Surrey CCC Supporters Association, where he helped to run the coaches which took followers to away matches over many years.
It was through the Association that Robbie met his first wife Val and her daughter Corinne, at a Christmas party in the old Nets bar at The Oval, and they followed Surrey around the country.
Beeston served four terms on the General Committee while work with the Surrey Cricket Board – now the Surrey Cricket Foundation – benefited clubs and players across the county, which included being a co-founder of the annual club day at The Oval. His contributions also included the Members’ Liaison Group and the Surrey Museum Group.
Warm and kind to old friends and newcomers alike, he regarded everyone as a comrade who should “keep up the good fight” if they believed in a cause. Relishing the glory days, he believed support for Surrey was even more important in the darker times.
Robbie enjoyed a wider perspective on the challenges of the game through a long-term involvement with South Park Manor CC, which included 12 years as chairman.
The far ends of each season were particularly challenging given his close involvement with South Park FC, where he always welcomed visitors and would help out with all the unglamorous tasks which enable clubs to survive from week to week.
Although shaken by Val’s early death, Robbie threw himself with ever greater energy into his sporting passions and counted himself particularly fortunate to meet his second wife, Mary, with whom he enjoyed many happy times which included cruises and going racing.
He loved chatting and, even more, listening to the tales of friends old and new.
Surrey chairman Richard Thompson commented: “Robbie was loyal and Surrey to the core.”
And Phil Garrard, a long-time friend who served alongside him on both the Supporters Association and General Committee, added: “It’s a very sad day for us all. Robbie was a very hands-on bloke, he was always happy to help out and did in so many ways.”