A CRICKET club legend died as he arrived at Burton’s Queen’s Hospital to donate cash gifted in lieu of presents for his 80th birthday.
Frank Watson, who served Alrewas Cricket Club for more than 60 years, was found slumped over the steering wheel of his car after suffering a ruptured abdominal aneurysm.
The 81-year-old, of Wellfield Road, Alrewas, was taken to the Belvedere Road hopsital’s accident and emergency department but there was nothing doctors could do.
Mr Watson’s son, Stephen, 44, said his father, who underwent a triple heart bypass operation at Glenfield Hospital, Leicester, 14 years ago, died instantly — before having chance to present his donation to the coronary care unit at Queen’s.
“We still think he’s going to come back,” Stephen told the Mail. “We will certainly miss him.”
Born on October 27, 1931, at Marsh Farm, Fradley, Mr Watson was the son of farmers and had two brothers and two sisters.
Educated at schools in Fradley and Alrewas until he was 14, he worked on a farm in Fradley and then took a job on the railways for 37 years.
Responsible for 13 workers as track chargeman with Barton and Walton gang, Mr Watson was employed by British Rail and two subsequent firms of contractors, retiring aged 63 before working at Paul Murphy’s farm in Wychnor.
An even-tempered character who hardly drank and never smoked, he was a workaholic who would do anything for anyone.
Apart from his wife of 49 years, Vera Elizabeth, known as Betty, 77, the love of Mr Watson’s life was sport, including football, hockey, horseracing and, above all, cricket.
He played football for Fradley, hockey for Lichfield and cricket for Alrewas during a 40-year playing career which saw him win the Burton league bowling award four times for his cunning slowpaced deliveries.
A life member of the club, Mr Watson also served as captain, groundsman, umpire, chairman and president.
After his cricket playing days ended, Mr Watson umpired in the Burton and Derbyshire County leagues, presiding over fixtures every Saturday and on some Sundays.
Fittingly, his last game was a match in September between Alrewas 2nds and Tutbury involving his other son, Tim, 42.
Mr Watson, who also tended the Royal British Legion bowling green in Alrewas for two decades, died on November 7, leaving his wife, two sons, daughter Jayne Deverall, 46, and five grandchildren.
His funeral will be held at 11am on Thursday at All Saints Church, Alrewas, and will be followed by his interment at St Stephen’s Church, Fradley.