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Nov 22, 2015, 10:16 AM
Daily Telegraph obituary, Friday 20th November 2015
Re: [Bristol Rovers] Barrie Meyer (Bristol R., Newport, Plymouth, Bristol C.)
Barrie Meyer, who has died aged 83, became a well respected umpire after an all rounder’s sporting career which involved football in the winter
and cricket in the summer; he stood in 26 Test matches and 23 one day internationals, including the World Cup finals of 1979 and 1983.
With his slicked back hair and jaunty flat cap , Meyer looked like the umpire from central casting. He was a genial man, who interacted well with the players,
often side mouthing a word or two of encouragement or explanation.
A willingness to admit to the occasional mistake got Meyer into trouble in 1984, when he went into the West Indian dressing room during the Lord’s Test
and apologised to Viv Richards, after realising he had given him out to a “terrible” l.b.w. decision. “No problem, man,” Richards said.
But the officials of the T.C.C.B. (forerunner of today’s England Cricket Board) felt that it had created an uncomfortable precedent and issued a reprimand.
Meyer was unmoved, reflecting later: “I considered that I had done the honourable thing.”
The younger of two sons of a bus driver, Barrie John Meyer was born at Bournemouth on August 21 1932.
He showed early aptitude for ball games when, aged three, a perfect right-foot half volley demolished his mother’s prize Swiss clock.
But cricket had, in fact, come a distant second in the life of the young Meyer.
“It was what you played in the summer when it was too hot to play football,” he later recalled.
A goal scorer comfortable at centre or inside-forward, he signed for Bristol Rovers at 17 in 1949, and made his league debut in October 1950,
scoring in a 2-0 home victory over his native Bournemouth. After National Service he was in and out of the first team for a while,
before settling down in 1955-56 with 20 goals, including a hat-trick against a Fulham side containing Johnny Haynes, Jimmy Hill and Bobby Robson.
Around this time, the F.A. asked the Rovers manager Bert Tann whether Meyer might be worth trying out in an England "A" team –
but Tann, who felt that Meyer was inconsistent, suggested they look elsewhere.
His biggest day in football came in January 1956, when Bristol Rovers (lying sixth in the old Second Division at the time)
were drawn at home to Manchester United in the third round of the F.A. Cup.
The “Busby Babes” included England’s Roger Byrne and Tommy Taylor – but Rovers won 4-0, with Meyer scoring the second.
He finished up with 60 goals in 139 league games for Bristol Rovers, and later played for Plymouth, Newport, Bristol City
(he was one of the few to appear for both Bristol clubs) and Hereford. He left Bristol Rovers in 1958 after Tann got fed up with him
returning for training late because of cricket commitments.
Cricket started to take over when Meyer became Gloucestershire’s regular wicketkeeper in 1958, after a few matches the previous summer.
Once installed behind the stumps, until missing a game in 1967 he played 259 successive County Championship matches,
three short of Alf Dipper’s county record, although that was eventually beaten by Ron Nicholls – another sporting all rounder,
who was Bristol Rovers’ goalkeeper in that F.A. Cup upset – who managed 276 in a row between 1962 and 1972.
Meyer was a neat, unflashy wicketkeeper, who often had to contend with the variations of Gloucestershire’s two England off spinners,
David Allen and John Mortimore, on some difficult surfaces. He finished with 826 dismissals (117 of them stumpings),
a number exceeded for Gloucestershire only by Jack Board before the First World War and Jack Russell in more recent times.
Meyer’s chances of representative honours were stymied by his modest batting: in 406 first-class matches he reached 50 only 11 times,
with a highest score of 63, which he managed on three occasions – once after opening against the 1959 Indian tourists at Bristol.
Meyer played his last county game in his benefit year of 1971 and, after a season as second team captain, became a first class umpire in 1973.
“I don’t think I was very good at first,” he said, but others disagreed: he stood in his first one day international in 1977,
and two of the Tests against New Zealand the following year.
He was soon recognised as one of England’s foremost umpires, and stood alongside Dickie Bird in the 1979 World Cup final,
when West Indies demolished England. Four years later Meyer and Bird were back at Lord’s again,
and witnessed India’s upset victory over favourites West Indies.
A decade later Haynes, one of that West Indian side, made two double centuries for Middlesex in county games which Meyer was umpiring.
Haynes informed him that he was his good luck charm . Meyer bowed out of international cricket after the 1993 Ashes series,
when he was 60. In 2005 he retired to South Africa where he wrote a memoir, Getting It Right.
Barrie Meyer was twice married. He married Gillian Hubbard in 1965 , having met her on board ship while returning from a coaching stint in South Africa;
the marriage was dissolved in 2000. In 2002 he married, secondly, Glenda (née Lutman), who died in 2014.
He is survived by the three sons from his first marriage.
Barrie Meyer, born August 21 1932, died September 13 2015
(This post was edited by John Treleven on Nov 22, 2015, 10:24 AM)