Many of you will have heard that Poppies fan Dennis Kendall passed away recently. Some of you may have known or at least spoken to him. Others may recall seeing him in his mobility scooter, attending home and away games in all weathers.
Dennis was my good friend. A friend of a kind you don't really make these days. We were of a different generation, and held almost completely opposite views on most topics. Today people so diametrically opposed would only ever encounter each other during online sniping sessions, but, back when I first started playing cricket with Dennis in the late 1980's things were different. Eight hours of standing in the sun, followed by a few hours at the bar mellowed you. What could have been arguments became alcohol-fueled chats and wonderful late night banter. I think it helped me appreciate that my high-handed opinions weren't universally held - always a shock to the young and stupid.
The Rushton changing room was never quite complete without Dennis's leonine presence, with his ubiquitous, incredibly swollen wallet - it was almost spherical, his chunky "DK" signet ring and his enormous cricket bat. The appropriately titled, "Den's Destroyer".
Back then we talked of the Poppies. Me in the present tense, him in the past. He saw the odd game, but with his loves of Rushton CC, Nottingham Forest and wife Sue (and, I fear, in that order!) he had little free time for the Poppies back then.
With the amusingly contrary spirit with which I'll always remember Dennis best, he took up the Poppies again pretty much as everyone else deserted them. He started to regularly attend during the dark end-days at Non Park. Having stepped back from both Rushton and the world-of-work, (if nothing else, this at least moved Sue up a couple of places....) he, and brother Malc became new, old, faces in the ever-thinning Poppies crowd.
Dennis, Malc and sometimes Sue, saw out our purgatory in Irthlingborough, before also braving the icy-wilderness that is Steal Park, before settling in at our current bumpy field in Burton. He didn't let a prolonged period of ill-health stop him living life, and even taking regular cruises with his extended family.
Looking back, I'm pleased that I managed to share three of the high-points of my life with Den. He was there at both my wedding and my surprise 50th birthday event. And, more importantly, I find myself almost childishly pleased that the only time I scored a century at cricket, Den was batting with me and was the first to offer congratulations. He couldn't have been more chuffed for me. Of course, being Dennis, he then grumbled at me to get a move on as we'd fallen behind the required run rate!
This is the 1000th PATGOD post since we started this online blog and I am glad I could use this milestone to honour the passing of a mate - cheers Dennis.
Dennis, in vibrant blue, gamely puts up with Henry Priestman's
lefty musings and music at my 50th birthday party.
Sue seems most amused by this!
"It's my wedding Dennis, so, for once, you have to listen to me
spouting my crazy left-wing views without interruption!"