Charlie Elliott

Cricketer, footballer and cricket umpire
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The Independent Online

Charles Standish Elliott, cricketer and footballer: born Bolsover, Derbyshire 24 April 1912; MBE 1983; married 1937 Joan Ambler (two daughters); died Nottingham 1 January 2004.

Charlie Elliott was a cricketer who became a leading umpire and Test selector, a footballer who became a caretaker manager, but the moment in his life that probably left the greatest impression was being on the roof of Coventry Cathedral that November night in 1940 when the Luftwaffe unleashed a firestorm on the city.

His daughter Maureen Brown explained:

He wanted to join the Navy but as he was a volunteer fireman he was on duty that night driving the tender. He said that the worst part of being up on the roof was seeing the lead melting, and dripping, a frightening experience. The water ran out, which was why the cathedral was virtually destroyed. After that, coming down and finding that he had parked the tender over a crater containing an unexploded bomb was nothing.

That was not his only escape: many years later he missed an IRA bomb blast in Coventry only because a policeman, who was blown off his feet, had stopped the car.

Charlie had sport in the family, being the nephew of a Derbyshire and England wicket-keeper, and he joined the county as a right-handed opening bat, a sharp close fielder and occasional off-spinner in 1932. He played 19 matches in 1936, the year of Derbyshire's only Championship and won his cap the following year but a financial crisis, a perennial happening in the Peak, meant he was released at the end of the summer. He then became a professional for Stourbridge and at the start of the Second World War joined Coventry Fire Brigade.

He rejoined Derbyshire after the war to play in all 275 matches for almost 12,000 runs at an average of 27, a career that included nine centuries. His best score was 215 against Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge in 1947, sharing a stand of 349, with John Eggar, a county record for any wicket for 50 years. He is still remembered as an ideal senior professional. He became a first-class umpire in 1956, a position he held for 18 years, standing in 42 Tests, a total surpassed at that time only by Frank Chester.

Derbyshire never lost his affections and he returned to act as Cricket chairman in 1993-44 during a period of rebuilding for the team. After serving as a Test selector in the years 1975-81, he was appointed MBE for his services to cricket in 1983, "and he was very proud of that", said his daughter.

Extraordinarily, even in the time of double internationals, Charlie Elliott was conducting a parallel career in football, an able defender for Coventry City in the seasons 1931-32 to 1947-48, making 95 Football League appearances. He then emerged as chief scout for Derby County and even had seven months as Coventry's caretaker manager in 1954-55.

Derek Hodgson