The relationship between a Grandparent and their Grandchild(ren) is always one filled with pride, love and affection.
Grandparents are often the number one supporters of everything you do, offering every little piece of advice and guidance you could ever ask for. Praising you at every possible chance and making you feel like a million dollars.
You may be wondering where I’m leading to here, so I’ll explain.
A year ago today a very influential figure in my life was cruelly taken from us. My Grandad.
For those who knew him he was ‘our’ Gordon. A truly unselfish man, who wouldn’t think twice about putting someone else before himself. Quiet he was, but outspoken he certainly wasn’t.
As a Derby County season ticket holder and forever involved at South Wingfield Cricket Club, Gordon played a pivotal role in me becoming so involved in sport.
From a blustery Swanwick on kwick cricket night to a wet and dreary Sunday morning at the top of Ashover, there he would be deck chair and all watching on from the side. Often accompanied by my Grandma, even if the weather wasn’t quite the best Gordon would find a way of getting her there.
They were quite the comical pair bless them. Lovers for 50 years I don’t really think you could ask for a more inspirational couple.
It didn’t stop there with the support either. Throughout the two years I played for Derbyshire CCC they would both travel from county to county, proudly carrying the Briggs flag with smiles brimming from cheek to cheek.
And so it continued into mens cricket. Regardless of where I was playing or who I was playing for I knew that somewhere along the boundary Gordon would be there. If I got a duck he’d be the first to put his arm around me and tell me there was always next week, even if I wasn’t quite in the mood to talk. Every dismissal or on the odd occasion a not out I’d always be welcomed back onto the bench with an Oasis waiting to quench my thirst. These little touches were those I shall cherish forever.
He was there for my first 50 and also for my first 100.
So you can only imagine his face when I reached my first century, I’ve never felt so grateful for one person’s presence and it meant the world to not only be able to celebrate this achievement with my Dad but also my Grandparents too.
There was also times where I wouldn’t be in school or college and Derbyshire were playing a home fixture. So Gordon would pick me up, we’d go to Greggs, pick up some lunch and head to the County Ground to watch a day’s play.
It then only seemed fitting when ourselves (South Wingfield CC) and Blackwell CC (Who also unfortunately lost one of their own nearest and dearest Gordon Williams) put our heads together to organize an annual fixture in memory of the two Gordons. Proudly both myself and my brother had the honour of receiving the commemorative trophy having triumphed in the first of the games.
But it was more than just cricket.
Having joined the family allegiance to Derby at a very early age I remember it was always my Grandad who would hold my hand as we made the walk from the car to Pride Park. Along the side of the river Derwent where the older I got the more pointless facts and figures I’d tell him to go with the stories and tales I’d share with him. As it became more of a struggle to make the walk I was distraught.
I mean I was gutted he was hurting so much, but who could I tell all my rubbish to now? However I bet Gordon was breathing a sigh of relief.
Saying that I still had the pleasure of sitting next to him inside the ground where I’d persist to carry on talking absolute rubbish. They may be why he always used to offer me polos in the hope I’d shut up just for a little while.
There wasn’t just this though, every time I’d see him the first thing he would ask was how my refereeing went, if I had won whilst I was still playing. He was only ever interested in what I had done and it meant the world.
Not only did Gordon help me through my playing career, but he’s also the reason I’m doing this. Writing.
When it came to planning on going to university I was always unsure and never really wanted to sit around and talk about it. My parents would urge me to do so but the thought scared me. Gordon however simply said: “Do what you want”
I believe he enjoyed reading everything I used to write about Derby games and often spoke about writing on my own website. Self-belief was something I lacked, and where it was missing Gordon was always the one to pump it back into me.
There was also the times at christmas and birthdays where the whole family would gather together and it seemed that my whit and sarcasm always brought a smile to Gordon even at the toughest of times.
Gordon wasn’t only my Grandad but he was my best friend too.
Still to this day am I to hear a single bad word spoken about him and the respect, love and sincerity shown by all who knew him, be it at his funeral or in later times was truly remarkable.
It glorified what a special man he was to everyone.
When the going got tough, Gordon kept on going. The single moment that most typified him was not asking, but demanding to be let out of Hospital even when the pain was so severe just to watch his beloved Derby County.
Gordon was a gift of an individual.
Gordon will never be forgotten.
Do not stand at my grave and weep.
I am not there; I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there; I did not die