Colin Alastair Cobley (OH 1965-1972)
03/06/2013
Garth Lawson (OH 1965-19741) a contemporary,writes:"Colin Cobley was almost universally known by his friends at school as "Cobs".Seldom did I hear "Colin".

He was an enthusiastic footballer.The first thing you noticed about him were his knees.Those knees were scary and when he got into top gear they pumped up and down like pistons.You couldn't take your eyes off those knees.Whenever he launched into a jarring tackle,the person tackled would have felt the full force of those knees.From whichever angle he came at you,you got caught by those knees.When he went off on a run with the ball( it was usually,in fact,without the ball),he kicked it a long way ahead of himself and sometimes got there first to continue the run..but not always.

He tended to head the ball with his shoulder principally because he worw large-framed spectacles.He played with a big,big smile on his face.He loved it.He wasn't the most talented,but certainly the most committed.Indeed he should have been committed for some of those tackles.

Cobs,myself,Dave Keyte,Chris Caligari,Stephen Papacharalambous,John Watkins and the late Dave Benjamin were likely lads together on visits to the Hillside Hotel,Redhill."Teen scene" on a Monday night."Big" pop groups on a Friday( 21.00-02.00),followed by school the next morning.Another disco on a Saturday( 21.00-01.00).Maureen,my wife,remembers his smile:it was a very wide grin,which extended across the full width of his face.He liked the Stones and regretted they never came back to the Hostel.They were there once but we were a bit too young(1966, if I remember rightly),when we would have been 12."Brown sugar" was his favourite.No talking when that was playing."

I remember him as a very speedy winger at rugby,his prowess as a sprinter offset by poor eyesight( contact lenses were in their infancy),one of the Alan Duggan or JJ Williams "chip and chase" school.The trouble was that if Colin chipped too far ahead he had difficulty in retrieving his kick principally because he couldn't see where it had landed.What a curious array of wingers we had in those days;Tom Goodwin who always caught the ball behind his back,Paul Tomlinson even fleeter of foot but,like Colin,so handicapped by myopia that he needed as many arms as a Hindu God to secure the ball.

I remember him better as an athlete without such trifles as catching or kicking a ball to incommode him.He was a very good 440 yard runner,reminiscent in his action of Tom Hanks as "Forrest Gump" in the scene where Gump traverses America( I recall watching the film in a cinema in Naunhof,a one-horse dorp;" one station stop",as they say on Virgin Rail these days, from Colditz in what was formerly the GDR, and exclaiming "Colin!" to a mystified audience of half a dozen).We represented HCS and Herefordshire at 440 yards,I at under-18 level,Colin at under-16.On one notable occasion we were the only runners to turn up for the Herefordshire finals and braved the wrath of the organisers and the elements to compete unopposed.Colin very magnanimously offered to accompany me round the cinder track but when I offered to reciprocate my gesture was dismissed by the Committee:"You're too old,this is the Under-16 final"!

From HCS Colin went to North Staffordshire Polytechnic where he read "Business Studies".He moved to Bristol to work for Aviva,improve his tennis,marry and to become a stalwart of the King Charles Cricket Club.It was for this team that Colin was to achieve his greatest triumphs.A social team of "good companions",a cricketing counterpart to Inigo Jollifant and his fellow touring thespians.

In its early days,the King Charles Cricket club was the resort of the mellow and the sanctuary of incompetence.Colin had never been a cricketer at school but he found himself in the company of fellows of similarly modest attributes.Their most consistent batsman was "extras",boundaries were rarely scored off the bat,the fielders were exponents of the artistic missed catch,hurling themselves forwards,sideways,clawing the air with the desperation of drowning men,investing the palpable miss with the romance of the near-miracle.

Gradually Colin began to realise that he was,by a combination of grit,determination and,above all,luck,destined to be a middle-order sticker,dogged and unprolific,but almost invariably there at the end,come triumph or ignominy.

The King Charles Cricket Club grew in both ambition and reputation,toured Cyprus,Ireland,the Caribbean and even the Forest of Dean.

Their venerable wicket-keeper,whom legend had it had once represented the Combined Services,sensing "anno domini" encroaching,retired.Who but Colin should take his place?

He was essentially a "stopper",Jim Parks to John Murray,Alec Stewart to Jack Russell( though to compare his predecessor to either of those august cricketers is more than a little unfair to all concerned),but an effective one.

In later years he became an enthusiastic spectator and was looking forward with eager anticipation to the "Ashes"series.

He succumbed to cancer of the throat in 2011,fought the illness with customary fortitude and had recovered the power of speech, albeit not unaided, when cancer of a more pernicious variety struck at the beginning of this year.He died in April shortly after his 59th birthday.

This was,as John Arlott might have said,a rare man.A character in many million.We should not mourn that he is gone from us:rather,rejoice that he existed among us.
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