As some of you may have heard, our great friend and Actonian Ernie Charles passed away on 19 January. He had contracted Covid 19 a few weeks ago.
Many people will know Ernie best for his umpiring over many years, and for his enthusiastic support for the club teams – usually from the warmest place he could find in the clubhouse.
Ernie joined the club over 25 years ago. He had spent a lot of his early life in Essex and east London having left his beloved Antigua as a teenager. He was a much-feared fast bowler for Wanstead in the Essex League, taking 10 wickets in an innings three times: an unbelievable achievement for a quick. He was also a member of the national indoor champions team, playing in finals at the Lord’s indoor school.
Ernie started playing for Actonians after a gap from cricket, and a period coaching cricket in Southall. He led our 2nd XI to a league title in his first year as captain, and was hugely respected as a cricketer and leader across the league. When the team batted, he was usually to be found in the scorebox, barking orders and encouragement to the batsmen. He was super-competitive in the field, and relished captaining close games against strong opponents. He toured to Devon with the club, and was sometimes to be found halfway up trees around the boundary as he relived his childhood.
After he stopped playing, Ernie went on the Ealing umpires’ course, and bought himself a white coat. He loved umpiring, and the opportunity it provided for staying involved in the game, and for imbibing a number of lager and limes plus several packets of salt and vinegar crisps with his friends on a Saturday night.
Ernie never held back from passing on advice. This often came in the forms of “what on earth are you doing?”, “play straight”, “bowl straight” or just “come on!”. And there were times when he could not contain himself as an umpire, and would chunter away and offer pithy views on people who he thought were not trying hard enough, or whose talents were waning. He loved to see others succeed and fulfil their potential, and used his series of enormous cars to ferry half the team around Middlesex for 20 years.
A lot of you will have your own memories or Ernie: the beaming smile and enthusiastic handshake; the characteristic Caribbean crescendo when he got excited or wanted to make a point; the frequent naps; the car music from wind-up gramophone days; the dinner dancing; his genuine care for people’s welfare. We can have a chat about those memories when we are all back together.
A gentle, sweet man who gave so much to the club. I will really miss him, and I’m sure that others will too.
Actonians Cricket Club