The strong affection in which he was held by his team-mates was reflected in the number of former Yorkshire cricketers who attended the funeral service of Graham Stevenson at St Cuthbert’s Church, High Ackworth, on Friday.
Graham, who played for Yorkshire from 1973-1986 and also represented England at Test and one-day international level, died on January 21, aged 58.
Humorous and moving tributes to Graham were paid in front of a packed congregation by former Yorkshire and England fast bowler, Chris Old, and former Yorkshire batsman and one-day international, Jim Love, both of whom were able to draw on a fund of stories from first hand experience.
After Chris had related several anecdotes of his own, he read out a personal tribute from Graham’s friend and former county captain, Geoffrey Boycott.
Geoffrey, the current President of Yorkshire County Cricket Club, said:
“When I played cricket for Yorkshire and England my three favourite players were, and still are, Graham Stevenson, David Bairstow and Ian Botham, in that order.
“As a youngster, Ian was just naturally talented and such boisterous fun.
“David was the most positive cricketer I have played with.
“Graham – talented warm-hearted and daft as a brush come to mind. He just made me laugh every single day I played with him.
“As his captain he would sometimes exasperate me, but on many more occasions just thrill me with his skill. He was charismatic and funny in everything he did.
“Graham had this special gift of being able to lift the spirits of his team-mates. A happy smiling atmosphere goes a long way to guys performing to their best and he made everyone laugh so much that our dressing room was a fabulous place to be.
“When he got a wicket or some runs his face would light up with this wonderful smile, and that is how he got his nickname ‘Moonbeam’.
Not just his team-mates but opposition players and umpires all looked forward to his company.
“After play ended his colleagues always persuaded or cajoled Graham into joining them for a beer or two and dinner. Even if Graham wanted an early night they pleaded and talked him into going with them because he was the life and soul of a good night out.
“He was the pied piper who made playing for Yorkshire, in and out of the dressing room, an absolute pleasure.”
A reading and eulogy were given by the Reverend Paul Hartley and a poem written by Gavin Edwards about Graham was read by John Atha, a close friend and golfing partner of Graham’s.
Graham’s widow, Angie, and their two children, Christopher and Cheryl, led the family mourners.
Yorkshire CCC Board representative, Robin Smith, attended the service along with Yorkshire chief executive, Mark Arthur, and operations director, David Ryder.
Former Yorkshire batsman and international umpire, Dickie Bird, and Peter Chadwick, president of the Yorkshire CCC Players’ Association, were present and other former Yorkshire players who attended included: Tony Clarkson, Howard Cooper, Paul Jarvis, Colin Johnson, Barrie Leadbeater, Jim Love, Ashley Metcalfe, Chris Old, Alan Ramage, Steve Rhodes, Kevin Sharp, Arnie Sidebottom, Peter Squires and Peter Whiteley.