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Cricket legend Jack Russell pays tribute to sports ‘mentor’

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Jack Russell has led the tributes to his former PE teacher Graham Fryer, who the former England and Gloucestershire wicketkeeper considers a mentor during his formative years at Archway School. 

Graham, who taught the young Jack cricket at Archway in the 1970s and 80s, died on January 2nd, aged 84.

Jack led the tributes to his former Archway teacher: “I was very sad to hear that a special guy has passed away.

image0 66 | Cricket legend Jack Russell pays tribute to sports 'mentor'
Graham Fryer

“I was lucky enough, at Archway School, to have three cricket-mad sports masters who would put themselves out and go the extra mile or 10 to help you achieve what you wanted to achieve. A lot of the time they sacrificed their own time, out of school hours. Without Graham Fryer, Rick Rutter and John Evans, I wouldn’t have achieved what I did.

“On one occasion I was catching balls before the start of play at the Cheltenham Cricket Festival, and I heard this voice behind me shout out ‘Russell, tidy yourself up!’ I knew straightaway it was Graham – I can still hear him now.”

image2 19 | Cricket legend Jack Russell pays tribute to sports 'mentor'
Graham Fryer

Former colleague Rick Rutter recalled his time with Graham, who he described as a ‘school character’, saying: “Graham was head of PE in the late 1960s and 70s.

“He was ex-army and we got on well as I had been in the RAF. He told me that he started at Archway with a broken leg and taught his games lessons, sitting on a chair with his other leg resting on another chair, until the plaster came off.”

Rick revealed the time Graham managed to bring the hit BBC TV show Superstars to the school: “Graham organised the Superstars visit to challenge staff and students with pole vaulter Brian Hooper in attendance.

“Graham was dedicated to sport at Archway and would take rugby shirts home to stich up and wash as there was so little funding for PE in those days.”

“Graham was a great supporter of Jack Russell, taking him to trials and Jack even mentions him in his book Barking.

“He captained Slimbridge at cricket and played football for Stroud Corinthians, with other Archway teachers, an over-30s team in the Stroud league. He also played drums in a band and was one of the school’s characters in his day.”

image1 34 | Cricket legend Jack Russell pays tribute to sports 'mentor'
Graham Fryer

After leaving Archway, Graham and his wife Margaret moved to Winslow in Buckinghamshire and he changed career to teaching in primary schools, firstly at Oak Green primary school in Aylesbury. They then moved to Kent and Graham took a deputy headteacher role at Antony Roper Primary in Eynsford, this followed a promotion as an acting headteacher at Culverstone Primary in Meopham, Kent, before returning to Antony Roper Primary prior to retirement in 2006. He then moved back to Winslow, Bucks, to be close to his daughters, Dawn and Andrea and their families, where he lived until he passed away.

He also played cricket for Winslow Town, Buckingham Town, Mote CC in Maidstone. A true sporting all-rounder he refereed rugby in Kent League, umpired cricket in Buckinghamshire and Kent and was president for Buckingham Town CC since 2005 and also umpired hockey for Buckingham Ladies 3XI.

A celebration of Graham’s life will be held at Crownhill Crematorium, Dansteed Way, Crownhill, Milton Keynes MK8 0AH at 11.30 am on Monday 29 January. Family flowers only.

There will be refreshments afterwards at the Bell Hotel, Winslow, MK18 3AB. All are very welcome.

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