A Few Personal Recollections
When Merrion First Eleven observed a minute’s silence before their Irish Cup match with CIYMS on Saturday, 12th June 2010 to mark Roger Fox’s death a few days earlier, Roger would, I think, have been listening to the laudatory remarks of the President, Kevin Allwright, with a mixture of embarrassment and amusement. Much more Roger’s style would have been the simple plaque noting his contribution to Merrion Cricket Club which will shortly adorn one of our benches. Quiet, discreet and understated, yet effective, that was Roger.
My own contact with Roger started when we were thrown together as an opening partnership for Merrion Fifths, or was it Sixths, in the late 1980s. We liked to claim, or at least I did, that, for a few seasons, we were the best partnership in the Club, although we never misled ourselves into thinking that anyone else noticed. We were a contrast in styles in this as in probably many other things. I scored quickly or not at all while Roger was steady and reliable but, to put it gently, slow. Long afterwards, he used enjoy telling people that, if our partnership scored 55, he would have contributed the 5. I am sure he was flattering me but maybe not too much!
It occurs to me now that, over the few years I played with Roger and in our many , if sporadic, contacts since, I don’t actually recall our having a long conversation together. Yet I always felt able to count him a real friend.
As a cricketer, Roger was almost a caricature of the traditional. For him, "playing the game" really was the important thing. One got the impression that he thought it impolite to hit the ball too hard or to score too many runs or to get the opposition out too quickly. It was much more important that everyone on both teams got a chance to participate. Of course, it was nice to win but one should not make too much of a fuss about it. And Roger was what I would call a natural sportsman, in the sense that he would have found it impossible to conceive of being otherwise. I recall batting at the non-striker’s end in a cup semi-final. Merrion needed one to win off the last ball and my partner and I just ran. I’d say I was a few inches short. Roger, long out himself, was umpiring at square leg and I was on my way. To say the opposition were surprised would be an understatement and, needless to say, we lost the replay. It is curious how it makes one feel better now that the right thing was done!
The "bank" in Merrion was Roger’s personal project for many years. At any and every time, often when nobody else was in the ground but sometimes during matches too, he would be laboriously pushing the lawn mower up and down the benighted bank to keep the rampant growth in check. It was typical of him that he did not look for the job nor did he seek any credit for it. In fact, he never mentioned it. He just got on with it and kept getting on with it until he became physically unable to continue.
When I took on the Merrion Presidency in 2007, I was faced with a pressing problem in that no one had been prepared to stand for Honorary Treasurer at the AGM and the outgoing Treasurer was unable to carry on pro tem. I approached several candidates, none of whom was in a position to take on the job. With some reluctance, because I knew his work demanded a lot of him, I asked Roger. He agreed, provided (as he put it) I was prepared to defend appointing a person with neither knowledge nor aptitude for accounts or accounting. As it turned out, he did the job with his customary quiet efficiency.
Early in his (and my) second year in office, Roger rang me and told me in a quite matter of fact way that he had been diagnosed with a progressive and terminal condition and (I remember his words clearly) that he "would understand in the circumstances if I preferred that he stand down as Treasurer". Most people, I am sure, would just have felt unable to continue – Roger’s primary concern was that he might let me down! Well, he did carry on for his second year and no one who attended the 2008 AGM will forget his courage, despite his disability having progressed considerably, in presenting a comprehensive Treasurer’s Report in person.
In the many tributes paid to Roger after his death, we in Merrion learned a lot we didn’t know about the breadth of his interests and accomplishments. We knew him as a cricketer and as a loyal Club member and, in both capacities, he was exemplary.