Simon Porter, one of the leading figures in Oxfordshire cricket for over 40 years, died at home on 9th February, aged 66. Simon was involved in the formation of Oxford Cricket Club, which arose from a merger of the Headington and Cowley St John clubs in 1994. He was a long standing player for Headington and had captained them to 3 Cherwell League titles in 1974, 1977, and 1981. He became Chairman of Oxford CC at its inception and in 2010 was elected President.
Simon was instrumental in the formation of the Cherwell League in 1974 and was its Chairman for over 20 years. He then initiated the merger with the Trinity League, a move that has seen the number of teams rise from the initial 8 to the current total of around 100. He was appointed Treasurer of the Oxfordshire County Cricket Club (OCCC) in 1974, another position he was also to hold for 20 years. At this point he facilitated the merger of the OCCC with the Oxfordshire County Cricket Association (OCCA) to form the Oxfordshire Cricket Board (OCB), the organisation that oversees all cricket in the county today. He was Chairman of the OCB from 1996-2006 and then remained involved through chairing the Cricket committee until 2010.
Throughout this period Simon was also managing cricket in The University Parks in his role as Oxford University Cricket Club Senior Treasurer and latterly Chairman. He would generally be in the pavilion on match days, ensuring all ran smoothly and entertaining officials and guests. He was also Secretary of the Oxford University Authentics from 1973-2013.
Simon was also a notable cricketer. He won a blue at Oxford in 1973 and played 127 matches for the county side from 1971-88. His total of 355 wickets places him seventh on the list of all time wicket-takers for Oxfordshire and he was a useful batsman too, scoring 1840 runs for the county with a top score of 76 against Wiltshire at Devizes in 1981. His style as an off spinner was different to that of his contemporary Rupert Evans, bowling a flatter delivery with slightly more pace. His best performance for Oxfordshire was 7-38 against Buckinghamshire at Christ Church in 1977. He was part of Oxfordshire championship winning sides in 1974 and 1982 and was selected to tour Keyna with the Minor Counties in 1982. More recently he had the honour of being elected the Minor Counties President from 2009-11 and he was also a member of the MCC.
Simon’s club cricket was for Headington United who he captained from 1973-85, leading them to the Cherwell League title in 1974, 1977, and 1981 and to success in the national indoor competition in 1977. He also captained the OCCA representative team and led them to the national title in 1979. His cricketing prowess has passed on to his daughters Genevieve and Eloise, both of whom have played for the Oxfordshire Women’s team. His wife Rosalyn also remains a great supporter of cricket within the county.
Born in Oxford in 1950, the only child of George and Cecile Porter, Simon was exceptionally bright and having attended Littlemore Grammar School (now the Oxford Academy) he won a place to Oxford University aged only 16. This achievement was such that it was reported in the national press. He secured a first class honours degree in Engineering before going on to complete a doctorate by age 22. In 1977 he became Bursar at St Cross College and later moved to a similar position at Nuffield College. He retired from this job aged only 46 and subsequently devoted his time to his coin business alongside all his many cricketing roles. In recent years health issues took their toll and his last public appearance was at Oxfordshire’s match against Cheshire at Banbury last August.
Although Simon had a very distinguished playing career, it is perhaps as a cricket administrator that we should best remember him. It can be argued that, with his involvement with the County, University, and League organisations over such a long period, he has been the most influential person Oxfordshire cricket has ever had. Many cricketers throughout the county should be thankful for his leadership and vision as they enjoy their cricket today.