Sporting community say goodbye to a local legend

Friends, family and sporting colleagues said gooodbye to a local legend on Friday.

Former Crawley Cricket Club president Tony Brand, who died recently aged 79, was given a farewell on Friday with a funeral service at Little Trees Cemetary.

A former teammates of Tony’s at Crawley CC and St Francis Rugby Club lined the streets responsibly to see the hearse pass.

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Tony Brand with his wife Jean

Brand moved to Crawley in 1981, with his wife Jean and young family, after leaving the army, which he joined in 1956 and rose from private to warrant officer first class.

The all rounder joined Crawley CC as soon as he arrived in the town.

After he stopped playing, Tony, who also played rugby for St Francis Rugby Club, ran the colts section of the club and role which he made is own and was rewarded for.

Son Adrian said: “When he retired the colts section pretty much stopped.

“The way my dad organised the section it was stunning. When they had the festival of cricket in the summer holidays my dad was heavily involved.It was so much work I don’t think mum saw him much.”

And members of Crawley CC were a bit sneaky a few years back when they nominated Tony for an award.

Adrian said: “They invited him to a do at Sussex CCC and said someone’s dropped out do you fancy coming along. It’s free meal, free beer. He heard ‘free beer’ and thought ‘yes please’!

“He used to say ‘stop’ fussing over me’ but he really loved it.

“When he went down there it was a ‘behind the scenes’ awards for Sussex Cricket and the club had nominated him and he won. The prize was a tour of Lord’s and to go on to the National Awards for the whole country where he was runner-up.”

Adrian added: “He absolutely loved his cricket and rugby. Some of the colts he trained play for clubs all over Crawley now and some went on to play for Sussex.

“When we have been to some funerals where cricketers have attended, they all come over and say hello to dad.”

Tony leaves foour sons - Adrian, Andrew, Tony and Michael - 15 grandchildren and six great grandchildren.

Because of the lockdown rules, ten people attended the funeral - nine memebers of the family and Tony’s best friend John Murray, who he met when he joined Crawley CC.

A buglar also played the last post at the service.

After the news Tony Brand had died had been announced on twitter by Crawley CC, tributes were paid the local legend.

Crawey Eagles replied: “Tony Brand local Cricket Legend and coach for many moons has passed away, we the #Crawley #cricketfamily are devastated to hear this sad news. RIP Brando respect and love to the family in this hard time.”

Doug Cooper tweeted: “RIP Brando. True definition of a ‘Club Man’.”

Horsham Trinity CC said: “Sad news, Tony was well known to most of us in the North Area and will be greatly missed.”

Andy Wales said: “·There must be 100’s of players in Sussex impacted by his enthusiasm and dedication to youth cricket. Some will remember his quicker than “military” medium bowling and his often brief but always glorious hitting. The ultimate tourist & top bloke. Will raise a glass 2u my friend.”

Ansty Ladies CC said: “Sorry to hear the very sad news about Tony, he was a legend in local cricket and a true character who did so much for colts cricket in the area . The thoughts of all at the club who knew Tony are with Jean and the family at this time xx”

And Dave Burt said: “Dave Burt: “Absolutely Gutted. Brando got me back into cricket 20 years ago, taught me the importance of providing cricket for youngsters of all abilities, played for me in Crawley 3’s getting his first 100 at 60+ years of age, and was a genuine character! Love to Jean & all the family xxx”


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