This has been a difficult year for so many people and we have lost a number of friends and former members. However the death of Greg Neame has sent shockwaves through several generations of Richmond cricketers, both here in the UK and across the world. On Facebook there have been many heartfelt tributes to Greg from fellow club-mates, from friends made on many tours and from a host of opponents across the cricket world. Various Whatsapp forums have shared fond memories and there have been sincere and, genuinely, heartbroken messages from so many who knew Greggy - Richmond's own 'geezer'.
Greggy joined Richmond as a 12 year old and in 1985, aged just 13 played 10 games for adult sides. He was a talented player, good enough to make a 1st XI debut before he turned 18. He played extensively for London Schools. He went on to skipper the 2nd XI for a number of years, taking them back into Division 1 after relegation and then to the brink of the League title. Always available for Saturdays and Sundays, he was a Richmond clubman through and through, at the heart of the club's strong social scene and the life, soul and host of many parties. A regular tourist for almost 20 years, Greggy also responded to the club's call for someone to provide accommodation for Gilchrist Scholars and other antipodeans. It's fair to say that he went out of his way to be a mentor to these youngsters, teaching them what it meant to be a member of a club like Richmond and generally looking after them in his own unique manner.
Richmond was, in so many ways, Greggy's safe place. It is fair to say that he had endured a fair share of difficult times but the club gave him some permanence, something to be a part of and be proud of. Sadly, Greg also had his demons. He was capable of extreme highs and some deep lows. He had a tendency to fight back against authority and at times this led him into conflicts and challenges. In 2013, the Club had cause to suspend Greg. Despite accepting that he had been in the wrong, he was hurt by the punishment and he became estranged. Having done so, and despite many attempts to get him back down to Old Deer Park and on tour, his deep-rooted pride stopped him from, in his own words, "crossing the Rubicon". It remains one of my greatest personal regrets as Chairman that I could not persuade him to bury the past and return to his adopted home.
I last saw Greg a year ago in Twickenham. A few of us were out for an 'old gits' curry, Greg had been out with some work-mates for a drink. He joined us and you could see how much he enjoyed being with some old friends from Richmond. I hoped that this might encourage him to pay a visit to ODP but then Covid-19 arrived and it never happened. And now he has gone. Too young and with so many things left unsaid.
In his last email to me, in August 2019, Greg wrote this : "at the end of the day if you cut me I would bleed Richmond Cricket Club and Tour." And he meant it. Rest in peace, old friend. We will miss you.