Cricket community pays tribute to umpire John Silver

John Silver watches on as umpire in a game between North Devon and Hatherleigh last season. Picture:

John Silver watches on as umpire in a game between North Devon and Hatherleigh last season. Picture: Fiona Tyson - Credit: Fiona Tyson

Friends and colleagues who shared his interests have been paying tribute to cricket umpire and community worker John Silver, who has died aged 77.

Silver, who held a law degree, moved to North Devon shortly after he retired from a long career as a university lecturer and quickly immersed himself in local life.

Summer months were spent umpiring cricket matches at club and county level while days off and winter months were for community work ranging from giving legal advice to working with dementia suffers.

He suffered a stroke last week and died in hospital in Barnstaple over the weekend.

Dan Bowser, North Devon’s opening batsman and a member of the England Disability squad, said Silver would be missed on the club cricket scene.

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“We saw a lot of John last season because he was local to us and the league wanted to keep travelling down for everyone and we got to know him quite well,” said Bowser.

“The best umpires are those you don’t really notice in a match and he was certainly one of those.

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“No umpire gets every decision right, but I cannot recall him making a big error that cost anyone a game we were involved in.

“And if there was any trouble on the pitch during a game he was quick to quash it.

“John was a nice man who always spoke to players before hand. He will be missed next season.”

Those sentiments were echoed by Gary Hudson of Barnstaple and Pilton CC, who is also umpiring appointments officer for the North Devon region.

“With John it was a case of have-white-coat, will-travel,” said Hudson.

“On Saturday afternoons John generally umpired in the Tolchards Devon League Premier Division, but almost any other day of the week he would be available for youth cricket, women’s matches or District games.

“John had umpired at a good level in Cheshire for some time before he came down here and it showed. He was a team player with the other umpires and scorers and a likeable man.”

Silver was a Premier Division umpire in Cheshire before he moved to Devon in time for the start of the 2012 season.

He quickly became involved in the North Devon branch of DACO – the Devon Association of Cricket Officials – and was area secretary at the time of his death.

Away from the cricket field Silver was a member of Barnstaple Link Rotary Club and became branch president in July.

Another interest was the Barnstaple Memory Café, which provides support for men and women living with dementia. Only last month the work of Barnstaple Link Rotary Club at the café was recognised with an award from the Devon Memory Café Consortium.

Andy Davies, a fellow Rotarian and Bideford cricketer, said Silver threw himself into community service.

“The Memory Café project was John’s idea and the next thing he wanted to get involved in was mental health issues,” said Davies.

“John was a hard worker in the community and always to the fore in a number of areas.”

When Silver and wife Jane moved to North Devon in 2012 he put his professional career to good use as a volunteer for the Citizen’s Advice Bureau in north, mid- and west Devon. He was chair of the CAB’s district board from March 2013 to January 2016.

Cricket wasn’t Silver’s only sporting passion: he was also a devoted Manchester City fan and season ticket holder who seldom missed a home game.

Anthony John Christopher Silver was born in 1943 and attended Manchester Grammar School between 1954-1961. He was a keen sportsman – cricket and football in particular – and appeared in school drama productions.

He studied law at the University of Sheffield, which he left in 1965. While a student he played cricket and football in the university first teams.

Silver was a lecturer in law for more than 40 years. He finished his career at the University of Salford in Greater Manchester in 2009. His specialisms were company law and international trade law.

John Silver was married twice. He is survived by wife Jane, his son, step-children and grandchildren.

Silver’s death is another blow for the North Devon umpires and scorers community, which has lost a number of members this year.

Jolyon Huxtable, the long-time scorer at Bideford CC, died in mid May.

And just a few days later the death was announced of Trevor Hilton, who was a highly respected umpire and coach.

Hilton, who was joint umpire of the year in the North Devon region in 2019, coached youth cricket at Filleigh CC and was involved in youth cricket at a District level for a number of years.

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