I was very sorry to hear about the sad passing of Eric Osborne in July. He was one of the last links with the past, although he seemed to link the old school with the modern era.
Eric loved his cricket but, surprisingly for his generation, much preferred one day cricket to the longer format. From about the late 1970s through to the early 1990s, he and his ever cheerful wife Edna rarely missed a 40 over JPL Sunday afternoon match, either at home or away. Eric & Edna were part of a group of good friends who loved Sussex cricket, including Ted and Ruby Williams, Kathy and Eddie Bennett, Brenda Austin and many more. I believe that on a good day at Hove, there would be up to twenty friends in all. Most of these good people were stalwarts of the Sussex Cricket Society, indeed Eric was to become Chairman of the Society for a few years. I can recall sunny days, deckchairs, rugs, flasks and sandwiches and good cheer. Those far off days do seem lost to me now.
I liked Eric, although he was never short of an occasional witty one-liner: “I recognise you, young Richard, you are not too different from the police photo-fit I’ve seen of you at the station”. You may have gathered from this quip that Eric was a former policeman. Indeed he spent thirty years in the police force and was active in retirement with the Police Federation for many years. Originally from Coventry, he was always keen to point out what a wonderful cricket team Warwickshire were – even after Sussex had beaten them; not too often, as I recall !
Eric’s dry humour, keen wit and occasional faux pas were all part of his charm. I can vividly recall when Sussex had finished 17th and bottom of the Championship in 1990. The AGM held in the following March was nigh on complete, incredibly without any reference to the disappointing season before, when questions were invited from the audience. In those days it was customary to be summoned to the lectern beside the stage (quite an intimidating experience) and announce your name and town of residence before asking a question. Eric strode purposefully down the aisle to the lectern. By his aggressive manner I thought he was going to really let rip. “OSBORNE, UCKFIELD”, he boomed, “What I want to know is what are the Committee going to do about the state of the ladies loo’s at the Saffrons; they are an utter disgrace”. Of course, Eric was being serious. Sadly, I cannot recall Alan Caffyn’s reply due to the tears of laughter running down my face.
I will miss old Eric - he was good fun, generous, always had a twinkle in his eye, and truly embraced the younger generation. I would like to send both my deepest sympathy and condolences to Edna and his family and say ‘Thank you, Eric, it was a privilege knowing you’.
Richard J Barrow