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Memory Lane

By This is Cornwall  |  Posted: November 19, 2008

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THE really successful sports player has two crystal-clear attributes: confidence and concentration.

Sir Neville Cardus tells the story of Herbert Sutcliffe, the England and Yorkshire opening batsman who never expected to get out, never dreamed of it.

One day at Lord's Sutcliffe was bowled by an unplayable ball. It swung away and whipped back to take his leg stump.

"Bad luck," said Sir Neville as he batsman walked back through the Long Room.

But Sutcliffe was surprised by the comment: "I was unsighted by a man moving in the pavilion."

Watching Pele, one of the greatest footballers of them all, on old film, you tune in to his alert mind and quick footwork.

His mesmerising goal in the 1958 World Cup final must surely be one of the finest in the history of football – an acrobatic volley: a man oozing confidence, concentration and precision.

The transition into the international arena is obviously the biggest character test. One man who did that naturally, gracefully was our own Richard Sharp.

At the age of just 21, Richard made his debut at the Mecca: Wales rated hot favourites to win but in a match, flowing with open Rugby, the Cornishman was a gifted running fly-half, the architect of England's 14-6 victory.

His old mentor Grahame Parker of Blundell's must have been proud of his protege's development in all-round play: tackling well, catching with confidence, kicking with both feet, a man capable of dropping goals under pressure.

While his swerving running electrified the atmosphere of many occasions, Richard scored a high percentage of tries but he was sound too in defence, covering and tackling.

Sportsmen with long memories will recall Ronnie George, goalkeeper for the Penzance Magpies in the early post-war seasons.

A modest man off the field, on it Ronnie almost turned keeping into a vaudeville act. I often stood behind the Penzance goal and, as a teenager, was enthralled by the way he cut off crosses from the wing or marshalled his defence for a corner kick: a man who inspired confidence in others.

Gerry Gazzard, back in Penzance after his distinguished Football League career with West Ham, was another raising Magpie morale.

An inspirational inside forward with quicksilver qualities, there was a touch of Merlin about Gerry.

I played some modest evening league cricket with him and even in that very different game, you recognised a reassuring gentlemanly sportsman.

Coming indoors, a golden memory, forty years ago, was watching Jonathan Barron of Mevagissey at the snooker table, one evening, at the Penzance police club. Immaculately dressed and a picture of concentration, Jonathan put the ball into the pockets from all angles: a virtuoso performance.

The secret of his success? "Constant practice and the extra helping of God-given talent" was one writer's explanation.

And games players didn't come more confident than Robin Harvey of St Columb Major, his left hand batting capable of changing the complexion of a cricket match in a few overs, aggression moving the inning into top gear.

But for his emigration to South Africa, Robin would have made a Roughtor of runs for Cornwall.

As it was, he scored over 3,000, and he set a tremendous example in the field, driving his Cornwall team on to win some impressive victories.

in 1968 it looked, at one stage, as if he might lead Cornwall to the top of the Minor Counties table.

Another old boy of Blundell's, Robin also played rugger for Cornwall.

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    Dave Hough, Bristol  |  August 24 2009, 10:35AM

    Im looking for any information regarding Jonathan Barron the world snooker champion in 1970 who was born in Mevagissey,Cornwall,im working on my family tree and have discovered that he could be related to me,need to find out who his parents were,anything that would help me realy,Dave Hough.