Martin Blincow, man behind the legend

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On Monday, December 19 Rye Town Council welcomed Martin Blincow as an honorary freeman of Rye for his work over forty years helping youngsters and Rye Cricket Club.

Cllr Andi Rivett said that he had done sterling work for the town and is a most worthy recipient of freemanship, the highest honour the town council can bestow on anyone. It is a way of saying’ thank you’ to them and publicly acknowledging the hard work volunteers put in. Cllr Rebekah Gilbert nominated him for this award and the council voted unanimously for it to be bestowed upon him. Rebekah thanked Martin for his dedication to the cricket club and for fostering apprenticeships and his support of the hospitality industry.

In a conversation at the Mermaid Inn, Kt Bruce discovered more about the private man behind the public figure.

When did you find out about the award?
I found out a few weeks ago. I was told I had been nominated and asked if I would like to accept. So I said thank you very much.

I hear that you can walk your sheep through the town, is this true?
Yes, I believe so. My daughters have suggested that for Christmas they will buy me some sheep and some hay. I am looking forward to finding out more later about the award.

So what has the award been given for?
I believe that it is for my work with Rye Cricket Club. I have been playing there since 1983 and secretary since 1989 and I run the junior section of the club.

What will be your legacy?
I would just hope – we often talk about this in committee meetings as a group – that from the time we came to the club until the time we leave, the club will be in a stronger and better place because what we are trying to do is preserve it for the next ten, twenty, thirty years. In 2023 the club will celebrate two-hundred and seventy years of cricket in Rye, making it one of the oldest cricket clubs in the world.

We will be celebrating in August 2023 with a week of special matches. One of the challenges of Rye cricket is that we are so isolated, we are so far away from other clubs, we are right on the edge of Sussex, right on the edge of Kent and it is a real challenge. In many ways the club plays way above its size really.

Did you have a cricketing hero when you were growing up?
Not really, I just loved playing cricket. It is the people I play with that have kept me enthralled with the game.

What three words would you use to describe you?
Reliable, committed, and passionate about things

What traits did you think were really important to instill in your children as they were growing up?
Being reliable and finding something in life that you have found a passion for. One has ended up in marketing and one in nursing and they are passionate about their careers. It’s all you can really ask for.

Do you have a favourite place in Rye?
I am lucky to live on top of Cadborough Cliff and waking each morning and seeing that view across Rye Bay and all the way to Dover or Eastbourne, that is a stunning place to be. Every day it changes and we watch the sunrise each morning and you can see the transition of the year. We are just getting to the point where it is almost right over the sea. It can’t be better, and we are lucky.

What have left on your bucket list still to accomplish?
I do have this wish to travel right round the world. I have a plan and I would like to watch cricket in Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. I have seen cricket in Mumbai and to the Indians it is a religion and it is fascinating to see how much cricket is played in every town and village.

If you had the chance to sit on a bench for an hour and have a conversation with anyone alive or dead, who would it be?
My cricket hero from the past would be Hedley Verity and football hero Steve Bloomer, so I would like them both. Hedley used to play cricket for Yorkshire and England in the 1920s and 30s. Fascinating character, great spin bowler, took sixteen wickets against Australia at Lords in a day. He is a fabulous character and I have a number of books about him.

Steve Bloomer played for Derby County in the 1880s and 90s. He had the fastest scoring rate for England ever. When he finished his football career he went to Berlin in 1914 and managed a football club and then spent four years in internment. He came back at the end of the war to Derby and went to Spain shortly afterwards to manage a football club. He is the only Englishman to manage a club that won the Copa del Rey.

When he finished that he returned to Derby again and became the groundsman at Derby County. These are two legends that I would like to meet and chat to and find out what they were really like and what were their life experiences. They seem to be characters who were born before their time, especially Steve Bloomer who would have been a superstar today.

Image Credits: Kt Bruce .

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