Portchester Crematorium will be packed on Thursday as cricket pays a lasting tribute to Tony Izzard, writes Mike Vimpany.
One of the all-time greats of the Combined Services, Royal Navy and United Services, he died last month, aged 70, after a short illness.
In a tribute, Rear Admiral Roger Moylan-Jones, said: ‘Tony made a massive contribution to Navy and Services cricket while he was serving, which continued of course, thereafter both as a player for United Services and then as an umpire in senior recreational circles.
‘I was a great admirer of his dedication to the game and of his considerable all-round skills which he consistently strived to improve.
‘He was an extremely accomplished performer in a game he loved.
‘I knew Tony since he was first breaking in to the Navy side and over the years we played together in many teams.
‘We last played together in the mid-1980s for an HMS Daedalus side, which won the Navy Cup.’
Izzard began service life aboard HMS St Vincent, the Gosport-based shore establishment, in 1967.
He was a prolific player for the Royal Navy and Combined Services over a 16-year period from 1973 to 1989 before becoming a hugely-respected umpire.
An imposing all-rounder, he played 50 matches for Combined Services, scoring almost 1,500 runs and recording a fine century against Oxford University at Burnaby Road in 1984.
He captained the Royal Navy on numerous occasions, helping them win the Inter-Services Championships several times.
In the field, Izzard was a brilliant catcher at slip or in the outfield and a very useful right-arm medium-pace bowler, who latterly turned to off-spin.
Alongside his brother, Mike, he played his early club cricket for Hayling Island before the family moved to South Yorkshire where they played for Sheffield United CC.
Upon his return to the south coast, Izzard represented South Hants Touring Club before joining United Services upon their entry to league cricket in 1979.
He became a stalwart of United Services, captaining the Burnaby Road club for eight seasons and playing 121 matches in the Hampshire and then Southern Premier League before turning his attention to umpiring.
Izzard became a leading member of the Hampshire ACO where he contributed through officials education and training.
Off the field, he managed the Burnaby Road catering for many years and alongside his wife produced arguably the finest lunches and teas around.
Izzard was also a decent footballer, representing Hampshire Grammar Schools – while at Price’s School, Fareham – and both Gosport Borough and Portsmouth RN.
His funeral will take place at 1.45pm and afterwards at the United Services Rugby Club on Burnaby Road.
The family has decided there will be no flowers at the funeral but Help for Heroes is suggested as a suitable organisation for donations.
For those who plan to attend the funeral, bright military sporting ties or, preferably, cricketing ties will be very apt for the celebration.