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Where are they now? Graham Burgess

Former Somerset all rounder Graham Burgess was one of those who was back at the ground for the recent Annual Reunion Dinner.

Between 1966 and 1979 he played in 252 First Class matches and numerous one-day games. He was also part of the side during the Glory Years, when Somerset lifted five one-day trophies in as many seasons.

Following his retirement from the First Class game, ‘Budgie’, as he is affectionately known, became a well respected First Class umpire.

When we met up with him recently the former Somerset favourite said: “This is the first time that I have been in the new Somerset Pavilion and it’s a wonderful building.

“When I first came here to play back in the 1960s our changing rooms were in the Old Pavilion, which this is built on top of and there were lots of splinters about on the floor. We had just one little gas fire in there to keep the whole team warm.

“Its great to be back here after a few years away and the ground looks fantastic. There is such a lovely family atmosphere here, just like there always was.

“I sometimes go to other grounds on the county circuit where the atmosphere is just nothing like it is here at all.

“I don’t think that Somerset will ever change. I just wish that they would bring something back like the Sunday League, when we used to get a full house every week and I think it still would. Everybody knew where they were with all of the games starting after lunch on a Sunday, but I don’t suppose it will ever happen.”

Budgie recalled his first ever visit to watch Somerset playing cricket in Taunton.

“I walked in through the Priory Bridge Gates and Somerset were playing the West Indies at the time,” he said. “It was 1957 and Lewis Pickles was opening the batting with Bill Alley.

“That was the time when Wes Hall was the great fast bowler and as I walked in I saw this chap running in who I thought must be him. Then they changed over and the other end it was Roy Gilchrist bowling. What an attack that was. That game opened my eyes to the pace of which it was played and I have loved it ever since.

“When I was a kid, Somerset used to play at all different venues. When they came to Glastonbury was the only time that I would see First Class cricket played. I think that it’s a great shame that doesn’t happen now and I can understand why, but when they played at Bath, Weston super Mare, Glastonbury and Frome it was a totally different experience for the spectators.

“Of course when you played at Taunton the wicket was probably better than if you played at Bath and Weston where the ball used to swing, then you would come back here and it was hard work again, but it was something different.”

Budgie then recalled his one-day trips to Lord’s with Somerset.

“In 1967 I played in the first one-day final that Somerset got to when we lost to Kent at Lord’s. The thing I remember most was the atmosphere inside the ground when we had Adge Cutler, bales of straw, people dressed up in smocks and plenty of cider.

“In 1978 we had a double disappointment when we lost to Sussex in the Gillette Cup final on Saturday and then came back to the County Ground where all we had to do was beat Essex to win the John Player League, but we lost by two runs.

“That year there were several teams in contention for the John Player Cup so they had the trophy in a helicopter ready to fly it to the winners, which sadly wasn’t us.

“The following year we won both the Gillette Cup and the John Player League, which has to be one of the highlights of my career. It was great to get the chance to go back and do it all over again.

“We had a very good one-day side in those days even though we never won the championship. Each of our batsmen down to number 10 had scored centuries so we were a pretty hard side to beat in a one-day match. The bowling was also good enough and we had plenty of variety.”

Budgie went on: “It’s wonderful to be able to get back together at these sorts of gatherings because there are one or two people who I played with who I haven’t seen since I finished 37 years ago and it was wonderful to see them all again. Some you recognise better than others. It’s whether they keep their hair or not!”

The all rounder, who is Somerset through and through, talked about his involvement in the game now.

“I still do a little bit of coaching at Monmouth School once a week which I enjoy very much. I work with the older players there. Up until last year I also worked with Wales Under 11s but I finished with that last summer. As you get a bit older you don’t want to be travelling all over the country. I did that for 10 years and enjoyed it. During that time there were several who went onto play First Class cricket.”

Budgie added: “It’s been great to catch up with some old friends as well, and relive a few memories which is always good. I hope to be able to come back again next year and catch up with a few more of my former playing colleagues.”

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