As you know, our old friend Roger Greenslade lost his long battle with lung cancer earlier this year, passing away peacefully on Tuesday 4th March aged 55.
I’m sure you will have your own memories of this most friendly, open-minded and unconventional of Jesters. But you may not be aware of Roger’s life beyond the Jesters, as musician, artist, much admired cricket coach and family man. You can read about all this, and more, in his obituary in The Guardian.
Our thoughts and support are with Roger’s partner Tamsin and his children Eliza and George.
Roger first played for the Jesters as long ago as 1986, turning out for the club against The London Hospital on the 4th June that year. His final Jesters appearance was in September 2010.
Roger joined the Jesters through his then girlfriend’s father, Michael Meyer, who was soon to become our club president. I remember picking him up from their slightly chaotic flat in Primrose Hill during that first season and being struck by this unusual character who regaled me with stories of the punk music scene as we drove into the deepest, most respectable Home Counties for a game of traditional declaration cricket.
Since then I’m sure I’m not alone in having followed Roger’s Jesters career with an occasional sense of wonderment, curiosity about what he might do next, and gratitude that he was there to brighten my life.
Kind, thoughtful and always entertaining, he was great to have alongside you in the dressing room, in the car on the long journey to a distant cricket ground, or in the pub after the game.
Roger was also a seriously useful cricketer. In his younger days – and not so younger days – he was an electric fielder, one of the first players match managers wanted in their sides.
As a batsman Roger aged like a fine wine. Blessed with natural timing and attacking instincts he was always capable of a game changing innings, but he became a much more reliable performer as his coaching gave him greater insight into his own technique.
Amersham Cricket Club, among our strongest opponents, always seemed to bring out the best in him. In 2009 he saved us from disaster after a dramatic collapse, Ollie Doward’s match report painting a vivid picture of Greenslade at the crease.
“Face was saved by Roger Greenslade who, true to character, decided that the only way out of our precarious position was to attack. The Greenslayer was in typically cathartic form, flogging a brutal 78 full of cuts, pulls, hoicks and flicks to the boundary plus one bone-shuddering straight six.
“That mighty blow came immediately after two swishes and misses against their rapid Aussie import, who unwisely offered Rog some advice about his eyesight. "I saw that one" was the quick-fire response after the next delivery slapped straight into the sight screen.”
Over the years Roger also developed into a very capable wicket keeper, a position that gave full rein to his wit and wisdom as he cajoled team mates and chatted with opposition batsmen. He was often the Jester opponents remembered the most – “that Yorkie keeper” as one of them recently put it to me.
It’s perhaps this capacity to strike up a conversation with anyone in almost any situation that we will remember most about Roger. It wasn’t simply that he was warm and friendly; he was someone with a genuine interest in other people, willing to see the best in everyone, and with the ability to create an instant rapport.
Perhaps this was because he was always so transparently genuine, just being himself and treating everyone exactly alike, whether he was talking to the president of a top club or giving throw-downs to a young lad in front of the pavilion.
Before these memories become too solemn, we should also remember that Roger had a legendary gift for enjoying life, invariably with a half empty pint in one hand and a mischievous glint in his eye.
Thank you, Roger - for the late night sessions, for the ridiculous conversations and for the stories about you we couldn’t possibly reproduce here.
There was a wonderful celebration of Roger’s life at Crouch End Cricket Club on 12th April. Some two hundred people gathered to share memories and hear a series of tributes from his cricket, music, school, work and family friends. Ollie Doward and Simon Rawson spoke for the Jesters.
As one Jester remarked to me afterwards, “I don't think I've ever heard such a moving, heart-felt set of tributes. It didn't matter how long anyone knew Roger, his warmth still left the same imprint.”