The many tributes that have circulated in the last twenty-four hours are a wonderful reflection on the wonderful life that Derek Ufton lived.
Derek was first and foremost a gentleman who rose to great heights on and off the sporting field culminating in the accolade of becoming President of Kent County Cricket Club. It would be true to reflect that Derek was the most celebrated all-round sportsman ever to play for Dartford Cricket Club, to whom Derek stayed loyal throughout his playing days. The Derek Ufton suite upstairs in the Pavilion is a fitting tribute and will act as a lasting memory.
Derek was a loving husband, father and grandfather. He was also a measured confidant to many. We will all have our own special memories of Derek but allow me to share a couple of mine from the sporting fields which will provide just a little flavour of the type of man Derek was.
The first was when Derek and I were chasing down a huge total one Sunday afternoon but still in with a chance of winning. Derek was well set and had already scored more than fifty when I arrived to the wicket. Derek was thirty-plus years my senior and from the first ball of our partnership, Derek made no secret of his distaste (in the most polite way, of course) for my desire to run quick singles.
The second was on the Sunday morning football field during the winter months when Derek would still turn out close to his sixtieth birthday. It was an honour to take the field with such a footballer from yesteryear where Derek demonstrated not only his sublime control of the football ball but also his very competitive spirit once he had crossed the field of play. Those who played these “friendlies” alongside Derek on those cold Sunday mornings will surely, like me, remember those days fondly.
Sadly in times such as these, the funeral for Derek will be a small family affair. However, it is to be very much hoped that a suitable Memorial Service will be arranged when the pandemic situation allows. Given Derek’s rich life and status one of the sporting grounds that Derek graced for so many years may have to be reserved! We will update members as soon as we have news.
Finally, the family has requested that any charitable donations to be made should be directed towards Macmillan Cancer Charity in recognition of the great and compassionate care that Macmillan nurses provided to Derek and the family during his last weeks.
Dartford Cricket Club
A gentleman who gave unstinted support to the Club and its members both on and off the field after he stopped playing professionally. In the days when we played all day cricket families, including Judy and his boys, would invariably watch and after the game Derek would immediately spend time playing cricket or football with the youngsters.
The Festival of Cricket had matches against The Lords Taverners and an Old England X1. Derek put together the high-profile names who played in the matches. He organised also the cricket week match against a World of Sport team, usually led by Dickie Davis, which was played for several seasons.
On a personal note, Derek supported me both on and off the field for many years. It was typical of his generosity of spirit that whilst I was in Stoke Mandeville he would ring for a chat each week and I appreciated greatly the kind words he said at my testimonial match in 2013.
Derek had a long, grand innings and he will never be forgotten.
Former 1XI player