Campbell Simons (1943-2021): a thinking man’s cricketer who answered to ‛Stanley’
Somerset lost another outstanding sportsman this week with the passing of Campbell Simons, a former Cup Match captain and footballer for Somerset Cricket Club.
Simons, the husband of Judy Simons, the president of the Bermuda Olympic Association, was also a superintendent in the Bermuda Police Service. He was 78.
Simons, an opening batsman and wicketkeeper, began his Cup Match career in 1966, scoring a duck in his first innings and 43 not out in the second. He was one of five colts included in Somerset’s team that year, along with Randolph “Shorty” Spencer, Reggie Tucker, Clyde Best and Kenny Cann.
“I batted at No 5 in the first innings and was extremely nervous while waiting so long to go in to bat,” he shared with Wendell Smith in 2018 during the Cup Match Legends series published by The Royal Gazette.
“I had the jitters. I asked to go in at No 3 for the second innings and, after doing so well, I soon moved up to the opening bat position.”
Simons’s career certainly ended better than it began, scoring 111 not out in his final innings in 1978 when he and captain Randy Horton shared in a tenth-wicket stand of 87 which not only enabled Simons to score his only century in the Classic. It also saved Somerset from defeat which would have meant the match switching back to St George’s the next year.
“I remember Campbell batting outstanding well,” Horton said of that partnership. “For me it was about hanging around and providing the support that he needed.
“I was so happy when he reached his century, it saved the match for us and gave us the opportunity to play at home in 1979 when we won the trophy.
“We were in trouble and when I went in I had a cracked toe. In fact, I went to King Edward to get a shot. Obviously he was taking most of the strike, which we would have wanted, but once we were in for a while he felt I had the confidence to be able to stay there. I ended up scoring something like 37.”
The innings ended when Allen Richardson, with his first and only ball bowled in Cup Match, bowled Horton. “The ball was in the air and looked so sweet,” Horton admitted.
“I was looking at the stands instead of looking at the ball.”
Simons retired after the 1978 match and did not play in the 1979 win. He was captain of the team in 1976 and 1977, taking over from Joe Bailey, who was captain from 1971 to 1975.
Simons scored 478 runs in Cup Match in 21 innings with one not out. His average was 23.60.
“Campbell, for me, was a fantastic wicketkeeper, much better than most people gave him credit for,” Horton said.
“Most of the years I played Campbell was my wicketkeeper. He was a solid and very efficient wicketkeeper.
“I became captain in 1968 and Campbell was the wicketkeeper. Also in league cricket for Somerset, Campbell was the wicketkeeper. He was fantastic in terms of providing direction for me behind the stumps.
“He was a solid thinker of the game and always provided good advice from behind the stumps. Lots of times bowlers get wickets because of what wicketkeepers do. What would Clarence Parfitt have been without Dennis Wainwright?”
In that 2018 interview, Simons rated Parfitt as his toughest opponent “without doubt”. He said: “Between 1966 and 1978 he must have got me out at least eight or nine times.
“There was no one like him. I would go to sleep thinking about how I would get on against him.”
All three captains, Simons, Horton and Bailey, grew up next to each other in Bob’s Valley, playing both cricket and football. Both Horton and Bailey recall Simons scoring a brilliant goal for West End Rovers to make it 3-2 in the FA Cup Final against PHC at Devonshire Rec in 1961-62 and then fainting with excitement!
PHC, containing the likes of Calvin “Bummy” Symonds, Richard Mallory and Leroy “Nibs” Lewis won the match 4-3, their third straight FA Cup win.
Simons had the nickname “Blackie”, but Horton gave him another nickname after that match at the Rec that stayed with him throughout the years.
“He was very young then, and I was watching the game,” Horton recalled. “He played inside forward and scored with a brilliant volley and then fainted. He would have been 18 or 19.
“I started calling him ‘Stanley’ after Sir Stanley Matthews. From that day, right up to the last time I saw him two weeks ago, I called him Stanley. And he called me Stanley.
“The reason I called him Stanley was because I was so excited about the way he played football at the time.”‘
Simons began playing cricket competitively in 1961, turning out for Police the year after joining the force as a cadet. “Our cricket started in the streets, in fact the guys in Bob’s Valley used to play a lot of cricket,” Bailey says.
“Campbell always liked to bat, never liked to bowl. When it was his turn to bat he never gave us a chance to bat.
“I started in Cup Match in 1963 and he started in 1966. We became each other’s captain; in fact he took over from me in 1976.”
Bailey added: “I can remember in 1968 when we toured St Kitts with the Somers Isles Cricket League. ‘Fleas’ Hall was our captain and I remember him scoring 80-odd at Warner Park, now a Test ground. We actually played against Lionel Thomas.”
Simons, who will go down in history as the first batsman to be dismissed on turf wicket in Cup Match in 1971, also shared in a record first-wicket record stand of 138 with Kenny Cann in 1974 which broke the record of 128 put on by Lloyd Simmons and Winton Edwards in 1949.
The record stood for 17 years before Wendell Smith and Arnold Manders broke it in 1991 with an opening stand of 143 for St George’s.