Mike Kendrick Eulogy
Posted 14th May 2019
For those of you who don’t know me I am a fellow Old Wilsonian and team mate of Mike, especially on the cricket field where we must have played more times together than either of us would have cared to remember! Although I didn’t play much football in the same team as Mike I could certainly hear him when he was playing on any nearby pitch….mind you he’d probably have said exactly the same about me!
We will all have our own special memories of Mike but for me there are three things that set him apart.
The first was his exceptional ability at both football and cricket. These were my sports too and when I started playing for the Club, I , along with many others, looked up to and respected Mike and hoped that we’d be good enough to play alongside him in the 1st team one day.
The second thing that, in my view, set Mike apart was his total honesty. He was like the Roy Keane of the Old Wilsonians’, he told it as he saw it and, as all of us who had the privilege to know Mike would agree, “he was a passionate sportsman who wore his heart firmly on his sleeve”!
Thirdly, Mike was nothing if not totally committed to his family and to the Old Wilsonians Sports Club. He put his heart and soul into making our Club one of the best if not THE very best around and was rightly rewarded with the Presidency of the Association in 1993. This is the ultimate accolade that our Club can bestow on one of its members and I know that Mike would have been immensely proud to see how Neil, our current President, has followed in his footsteps ….and I’m pleased to report that he’s actually not making a bad job of it either!
So, returning to Mike’s sporting achievements I want to provide you with just a few examples and numbers to illustrate what a fine, all round sportsman he was.
For the Football Club Mike played almost 800 games with many of these for the 1stXI and, as we heard earlier, Mike played at an even higher level representing and skippering the Kenyan National team which, according to our Football Club historian, Mike Harris, makes Mike Kendrick one of only two Old Wilsonians, in our 130 year history, to play international football!
It was also Mike Harris, a lifelong friend of Mike’s, who mischievously informed me that Mike was the very first Old Wilsonian footballer to have his name taken! Apparently, in the good old days, the referees used to share the same dressing room as the players and you might want to try to picture this… ..after one particular match Mike was sitting in the dressing room and went into a right old rant telling his team mates in no uncertain terms about how diabolical the referee had been….. when suddenly the referee in question appeared out of nowhere to politely ask Mike for his name!!! I reckon that Mike’s response would probably have made interesting listening….but I’ll leave that to your imaginations!!
Turning to cricket I really need say no more than Mike was the Club’s all time leading run scorer with over 22,000 runs and, with his bucket like hands, he took over 300 catches, not to mention umpteen stumpings. These numbers are absolutely staggering and I will be very surprised if they are ever beaten.
Returning to my second point concerning Mike’s total honesty the phrase “actions speak louder than words” could have been written for Mike!
To give but one example ……Back in the day we were playing against Dulwich Cricket Club and Mike, was keeping wicket to our 1st team captain, Tom Sissons.
As was his way, Mike told Tom that he didn’t think he was bowling very well and said “if you continue bowling like that then I’m walking off”!
Tom replied “alright then go ”….or words to that effect!
True to his word of course, Mike did no more than remove his pads and gloves, leave the field and drove home on his trusty motorbike and side car!
Yes…..he could be impulsive all right
Yes ….he could be bloody minded
And yes…he could be very frank
BUT I tell you this…..he was totally honest to himself ….if Mike said something you can rest assured he meant it alright and when the going got tough the bloke you wanted on your side was Mike Kendrick!
The third thing that, to my mind, set Mike apart was his total commitment. Unlike some, Mike committed to playing every Saturday and Sunday and quite often on Sundays he would be joined by his younger brother Paul, when the pair of them got batting together I can tell you that the runs accumulated very quickly.
Mike wasn’t just committed to playing however, he always maintained that “playing is the easy bit”…..”it is what you do for your Club off of the field of play that is the most important thing”. For instance, when finances were extremely tight in the early days at Hayes it was Mike who stepped up to the plate and ran the Bar voluntarily and almost singlehandedly. It’s fair to say that no job was too small for Mike and like me, I’m sure many of you will vividly recall him pushing a broom round the Clubhouse or brushing the wickets between innings, often foregoing his own tea in the process!
Mike was rewarded for his total commitment by not only being elected as President of the Association but also of both the Football and Cricket Clubs …making him one of only 4 Old Boys to hold these three highest positions !
Of course, the underlying driver for Mike’s hard graft was his total pride in our Club. He, along with the whole Kendrick family, and I include his grandchildren too of course, absolutely love the place, and, as I was reminded by some close friends just last week, it was Mike who always went out of his way to make any new faces feel welcome.
As I start to wind up it would be remiss of me not to mention Mike and the Bar! As you will all be aware, sport and the post match hospitality involving a few pints and lots of banter and laughter go hand in hand. Mike very much enjoyed this social aspect, so much so that he became a Founding member and more recently the Life President of G.O.A.L.S …..for the uninitiated that stands for the GOLDEN OLDIES ALCOHOLIC LUNCHEON SOCIETY which, as a fully paid up member myself, I can assure you is still going strong today!
Finally then, I know that Anne, Maria and Neil would want me to extend their kind invitation to you all to join them at the Sports Club after this Service. Whilst you’re there can I suggest that you take a couple of minutes out and just imagine Mike hitting a 4, or scoring a goal, or simply walking around the Bar and having a laugh whilst crushing your hand in his vice like grip because undoubtedly his spirit will live on at our Club for a very long time indeed… And it is without any shadow of doubt, that I tell you that Mike Kendrick, has joined the pantheon of the “OLD WILSONIAN ALL TIME GREATS”, too many of whom we have sadly lost over