Tributes paid to Mildenhall cricket hero who inspired hundreds
Tributes have been paid to a cricket hero who not only inspired hundreds but helped create one the ‘finest cricket grounds in East Anglia’.
Mike Clarke, known as “Clarkey”, from Beck Row, died peacefully on Sunday, aged 83, at a nursing home in Brandon, where he had been living for the past month.
Mr Clarke first joined Mildenhall Cricket Club (MCC) 70 years ago. A right hand batsman and medium-paced bowler, he captained both the 1st and 2nd XIs in the 1960s and was club secretary between 1962 and 1978.
Amongst his many roles for the club, he will be remembered most as the man behind the club’s Wamil Way ground, after the club moved from its original parish site on St Andrew’s Street.
An architect by trade, Mr Clarke, designed the all-purpose sports ground and upon completion in 1972, he fittingly struck the first boundary at the club’s new home.
Current chairman, Lou Handy, said: “When I joined MCC as a 13-year-old in the ‘70’s, even to the young and uninitiated it was obvious that Mike was one of, if not ‘the’ mover and shaker at MCC.
“Over decades of playing and serving on committees, Mike’s traits and passions can still be very clearly seen in his legacy.
“As a player, he was a ferocious competitor. However, once the game was over he was first to the bar and would talk cricket long into the early hours.”
Mr Clarke, also spearheaded further projects at the club including new changing rooms and electronic scoreboard. He also oversaw the laying of an artificial pitch at the ground and the installation of the club’s first synthetic nets.
In 1994, he also created another pitch on an adjacent field, previously home to Wamil Wasps football team. This allowed the club to form a 3rd XI, which helped the club facilitate youth cricket,
Elected a life vice president in 1993, his “tireless passion’ for the club saw him enrolled as club chairman between 1999 and 2007. He had already before being elected a Life Vice President in 1993.
Mr Clarke, who also built his own home in Mildenhall, where he lived for many years,also worked for four decades raising funds Guide Dogs For The Blind, in memory of his first wife, Sue, and for which he was awarded a British Empire Medial.
MCC president Tony Cornell, said: “Mike joined the club nearly 70 years ago and his many achievements were recognised in 2014 when he was inducted into the ‘MildenHALL of Fame’.
“As the architect of the new ground, I worked alongside him as treasurer at the time and witnessed at first hand his drive and passion in completing the club’s move from the parish site to our own ground.
“It is a fitting tribute to Mike that nearly 50 years later the ground he helped create is now one of the finest grounds in East Anglia.
“I am sure all members will join me in sending sympathy to Mike’s wife Hazel and son Andrew and all their family.”
A date for his funeral has yet to be confirmed.