Thursday, 3 November 2011
Chris Waters on his Fred Trueman Biography Part 4
Fred Trueman is a genuine legend and a cricketing hero to many, not just within the White Rose County. The man tasked with the job of writing ‘FRED TRUEMAN – THE AUTHORISED BIOGRAPHY’ is Yorkshire Post Cricket Correspondent, Chris Waters, who speaks to the YCCC website in a four part interview...
In the fourth and final instalment, Chris talks to James Buttler about Trueman’s relationship with Geoffrey Boycott, his marriages and life after playing cricket ended.
You start the book Chris with a lovely tale of Fred Trueman, Geoffrey Boycott, Ray Illingworth and Brian Close all getting together for a portrait session in 2005. It was the first time they’d all been together for a long time and sadly their last meeting...
It was a magnificent occasion because these four greatest living Yorkshiremen, as they were then, hadn’t always seen eye-to-eye and that was no secret. And of course Fred and Geoff had fallen out quite spectacularly really. When you go back and look at some of the things that Fred wrote at the time when there were all of the difficulties and it was quite moving to see them all come together. I couldn’t help feeling personally that it was a shame that there hadn’t been more of that cordiality over the years.
Ultimately Fred and Geoff made it up and I think that was another endearing part of the Fred story.
Around the late seventies and early eighties there were a number of disagreements, but it was the Yorkshire Committee element that got to Fred most – that Boycott ended up on the Committee and he was removed...
After Yorkshire had sacked Boycott the Yorkshire Committee, of which Fred was a member, was overthrown. That was really the nadir of Trueman’s cricketing life because he was ousted from the Committee when the Yorkshire members voted for a chap called Peter Fretwell from Keighley instead. Boycott supporters took over and there was no place for Fred. That was a big part of his fall out with Geoffrey, who on the other side of the coin maintained that he had nothing against Fred at all.
It wasn’t until Boycott got cancer that the relationship thawed out...
Geoff Boycott sent Fred a card for his seventieth birthday in 2001 which was before their reconciliation and then when Geoff got cancer Fred was straight on the phone. It said a lot about the man that, regardless of whose camp you were in, he made an effort to sort their differences out and they were sorted out.
It was an endearing aspect of Fred Trueman and I think it was also tied in with his religious faith. He did become a regular churchgoer towards the end of his life and I don’t think he could reconcile the thought that one of his colleagues had potentially life threatening cancer. He used to say a prayer for Geoffrey Boycott and got straight on the phone to him and was very concerned that he was okay.
Fred was married twice. The first time was to Enid and you describe a bizarre interview that Fred carried out on television with Enid – cricket took Fred away from her...
I’ve got a lot of sympathy for Enid as she never saw him. There were lots of stories where he was living it up every night. Enid was a very outgoing sociable lady and their relationship just broke down and they split up.
The interview you’re referring to in 1964 happened when the BBC made a film about Fred Trueman’s life which included this interview with Enid who tore a bit of a strip off him on television saying ‘you’re never around, we don’t have a family life and it was quite sad. Not sad in the sense that you felt Fred was being badly treated, but you could see all sides of the story and their marriage was almost breaking up on television.
For Fred it turned around when he met his second wife, Veronica. A lot of people say that she put him back on the straight and narrow. He’d just finished playing towards the end of the 1960s and he was drifting along without a career as such. He had a few failed business enterprises and a couple of his team-mates said to me straight that without Veronica he might have been dead as he drifted and fell by the wayside.
Veronica was organised and recognised his worth, value and qualities as a speaker and helped him as she effectively became his agent. From there, Fred enjoyed a lucrative career on the after dinner circuit and started to make the most of business opportunities in the media.
Fred became an integral part of Test Match Special and a popular figure on that programme...
He had around 25 years on Test Match Special, so he had a second career really, which kept him in the game. Possibly opinion on his Test Match Special career is divided. A lot of people thought he was fantastic, said the right things and was brilliantly funny. Other people felt he became sour and there is probably a bit of truth in all of that really. He was nothing less than entertaining and you wish you had somebody like that on the air today because he was great fun to listen to I think.
He wasn’t short of an opinion, particularly on some of the younger fast bowlers and Darren Gough was quoted as saying, “Why should I listen to the ramblings of a pensioner?” Fred said it as he saw it...
I don’t think they saw eye-to-eye. On one occasion someone said that Darren Gough was quick, to which Fred said, “Quick, I could bowl quicker with me mac.” I don’t know how much of it was nasty and unpleasant or how much Fred was playing up to that image of saying what he thought.
There was no doubt that he became a bit of a caricature which was unfortunate. Some modern players didn’t like the way that he viewed them and the game.
He had that image you mention, he was hurt by the lack of recognition Yorkshire CCC gave him, he’d almost turned his back on his Maltby roots and was a staunch Tory. He was also incredibly generous and did a lot of work for charities. In later life was Fred a happy man?
I don’t think he was ever entirely happy. He loved his family, but he always seemed to be searching a little bit. He became a Tory, was a churchgoer and became the country squire with an image of great respectability and he didn’t really see any echoes in himself of where he came from at that point in his life. He’d moved so far away from Maltby and the pit yard and he was a different sort of person then.
With Fred, it’s only by going back through his story and getting into his background, looking at the way he was treated when he first came on the scene and his first tour with all the problems he had, that you can really understand why he became a little bit outspoken towards the end of his life.
As you’ve researched this book you’ve spoken to countless people and sought their views on Fred’s life and their relationship with him. The only key person you couldn’t speak to was Fred himself. If you got the chance and could ask him one question – what would it be?
(laughs) I’d probably run away after writing this! I don’t think you can properly write about someone when they are alive, but I would have been fascinated to talk to him about some of the challenges he faced early on in his life and how he overcame them.
I just think he was great company and when you did speak to him he was entertaining and engaging and he is very sorely missed, not only in Yorkshire but throughout the world.
Many thanks to Chris Waters for sparing his time for this interview.
Fred Trueman: The Authorised Biography [Hardcover] by Chris Waters is published by Aurum Press Ltd and is in book shops of all standards now.
Courtesy of Aurum Press Ltd we have three copies of Fred Trueman: The Authorised Biography to give away. To win a copy all you need to do is correctly answer the question below and send your answer to firstname.lastname@example.org
QUESTION: What was Fred Trueman's middle name?
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Yorkshire Bank 40
19 May 2013
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Radlett Cricket Club, Radlett
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