Monday 5 March 2007 

Essex Mourn Brian Belle

Former Essex batsman Brian Belle has died at the age of 92.

Brian had been the County’s oldest living cricketer until his passing on Tuesday 27th February.

The Woodford Green-born player featured in 26 first-class matches for Essex, scoring 776 runs at an average of 19.89. After making his debut against Middlesex at Ilford in July 1935, his highest score came a week later in what has gone down as one of Essex’s most memorable victories in their history. Belle hit 63 in a sixth-wicket partnership of 174 with Morris Nichols (146) out of a first innings total of 334. Nichols and H.D. Read took all 20 Yorkshire wickets as the hosts were dismissed for 31 and 99 to give Essex an innings and 204-run victory.

Belle was awarded his Oxford blue in 1936, playing for Essex that summer and the following year. His last match for Essex came in August 1937 against Worcestershire but he went on to play four further first-class matches – twice for an Oxford and Cambridge side in Jamaica in 1938 and two more post-war for the Minor Counties.

Belle was an Army officer during World War Two.

Essex President Doug Insole said:

“Brian Belle was our oldest living cricketer. He was the sole survivor of a very famous match against Yorkshire in 1935 when we beat them by an innings. Brian was also an outstanding footballer who played for Corinthians, the top amateur team of the time, at full-back. He was part of a generation of outstanding all-round sportsmen between the two World Wars, a number of which we had here at Essex, also including Sir Hubert and Claude Ashton.”

As a former pupil of Forest School, the following tribute was posted on the Old Foresters’ website:

“It is with deep regret and sadness that I announce the passing of one of the most celebrated Old Foresters. Brian died peacefully, with his daughters at his side, on Tuesday 27th February 2007. He leaves two daughters of whom he was especially proud and our thoughts are with them at this time. Since the death of his wife in 2005, Brian's health had deteriorated but although his strength of character and the support of his family had kept him going, the last few months had seen a sudden decline. His 92 years of remarkable achievement will be published over future months but this news marks the passing of an Old Forester who was an outstanding sportsman, a respected educationalist, a proud and loving family man but most importantly a loyal friend who will be missed by so many. The funeral is being held at Nacton Parish Church on Wednesday 7th March at 11 a.m. with refreshments afterwards at Orwell Park School (next to the Church). Anyone who knew Brian is more than welcome and if you require more information do not hesitate to contact Alan Plampton on 01992 578207.”