Tuesday, 1 September 2009

RIP Devrill

For some years Sefton Park CC has had an unlikely fan in the shape of Devrill – a man apparently of no fixed abode and immense drinking capacity.

Devrill was essentially a tramp who hung around the cricket club. It wasn't initially clear why, though at a guess the club is situated between two popular drinking spots. Sefton's first contact with Devrill was marked by a threat to 'burn down' the cricket pitch - an intriguing suggestion - and the first airing of his favoured 'woollyback jedis' insult.

As time went on he seemed to develop an interest in the cricket and formed unlikely friendships with various people at the club, particularly groundsmen. He became a kind of unofficial mascot, of great amusement to many of the club's younger people and great consternation to opposing teams.

Frankly he was, also, a nuisance and often abusive to anyone and everyone. There's often a funny side to alcoholism, but it never totally masks the tragic nature of alcoholics and substance abusers. The two parts were never really lost on me and I regarded him as a rather pathetic character.

This duality was marked by a spell where Devrill lived under a downed tree in the Sefton garden. In many ways this was amusing, but when the tree was cleared I once noticed him sleeping on the stone steps of the lower pavilion one night, wrapped in a blanket and at the mercy of the elements.

Poor Devrill. It seemed he had got himself a flat, but his life didn't seem to change much. I last saw him a couple of weeks ago promising to smarten himself up and expressing his apologies for previous behaviour. He was clearly drunk at the time, but I expect life looked rather more pleasant through a fog of addiction than in the cold, hard light of day.

Devrill was a pain in the arse and was often a source of abuse and vitriol aimed at people in and around the club. And I'm fairly sure he once did my car over. But I felt sorry for him - he was a walking warning against falling into a trap that so many do.

Most people have a story about a funny alco, but I'm betting every one of them dies a lonely, slightly pathetic death. I can almost see Devrill stumbling across Ullet Road, another day's hard drinking behind him. He will, in his own way, be missed at the club but there will be no bench plaque, no minute's silence - just a moment's contemplation.

So, this one has little to do with cricket, but it says a lot about the nature of cricket clubs and the bizarre mix of people they tend to attract. No doubt, in the future, the club will attract another oddball. They always do. Poor Devrill.


  1. Nice post Robin - it's always saddest for the family of course as the report in the Echo makes clear - http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/liverpool-news/local-news/2009/08/28/skelmersdale-family-s-shock-at-liverpool-road-tragedy-100252-24550885/

  2. Yeah I didn't want to explicitly link the blog to the Echo article, lest his parents come across this by accident.

    Maybe they're not under any illusions, but the notion their son was an abusive alcoholic may not be the nicest thing to read at the moment.


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