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  • adudman9

Pete and Dud

Updated: May 10, 2021

Sorry, another cricket matter. But the story of Peter Sogbodjor needs telling. We've all read the book "The Best Player You Never Saw", well Pete was that, actually in both cricket and football.

He was my mate at school, who never stopped smiling. Ever.

We opened the batting together for the School 1stXI and I was a bit of a blocker who

morphed into Mike Atherton. Pete would tee off from ball one and go for it, he was brilliant to watch.

"Sobs" was a year younger than me, so I found it slightly annoying he was about ten times the batter I was and already fearturing for Middlesex when he opened the batting as a 15-year-old.

He played the lofted cover drive with ease. He also loved charging spinners and quicks and

held one of the old Symonds Tusker bats. Gordon Greenidge used one, and Pete used to possess that Greenidge flick to leg.

I had a chat once with the Aston Villa manager Dean Smith when he was at Leyton Orient - as Dean liked his cricket too, and I told him about Pete how he never quite made it as a professional, and he said people make it with half the talent of a lot of people, but it's the work ethic. But this is why we all loved Pete.

He was always late. The cricket master had to drive to his house to get him on Saturdays as he would never make the game on time.

One particular day of lateness meant we all were in the minibus waiting while he had to do some ironing. But he had the shirt on that was creased so he decided to iron it whilst he was wearing it. He even did the collar, which gets full marks for sticking to the task, but he burned his neck and he still has a triangular scar above the shirt collar line to this day.

As I mentioned, he never turned up anywhere on time. He had Middlesex trials with now

umpire Ian Gould. He turned up two hours late, went in for a bat, and was told to go home.

However, I experienced the Middlesex trials myself for the YC's and it was a joyless experience. The coaches were almost robotic back then and would be besides themselves with a basic, textbook, forward defence. Everything back then had to be textbook, which is why Pete would have succeeded in today's era of flicks and T20 cricket. He was too attacking.

We broke the school batting record as an opening pair with 283, I got 100, he got the rest. I just watched at the other end to be honest.

But when I realised what a good batsman he was, came in a club match against Millhilllians - who he went on to play for later in life with ex-Derbyshire opener Steve Selwood - as they used to be together at Finchley.

Their opening bowler had just finished playing State or Grade cricket in Australia and apparently opened the bowling with Angus Fraser. His name was Damian Hollibone or something, can't quite remember, but he was quick and moved it all over the place. I didn't get near him, but Pete got 70-odd and was very comfortable.

He went on to get a two-year-scholarship at the London Cricket College, that has produced the likes of Chris Lewis, Mark Alleyne and Keith Piper. They played mostly 2nd XI county teams, and he would tell me who he had come up against in midweek.

Pete was always pretty dismissive of class players. One England international opening Test bowler he described as "alright". Called an opener who got over 6.000 runs at international level a "slogger" too.

However, praise went to Tim Munton - who he said was one of the best he faced ,and also Matthew Fleming who apparently hit the ball harder than anyone he had ever seen.

Pete also knew everyone. I was having a net with him at Finchley and the Middlesex squad were training. Owais Shah run by and said "alright Pete". So did Keith Dutch, David Alleyne did too.

His name can be found on the cricket archive site and he featured for quite a few County 2nd XIs but never really got a score. He was in the wrong era, as cricket nowadays would have been perfect for him, and he was also an electric fielder.

Annoyingly he was a superb footballer too that played professionally in New Zealand and semi-pro in the UK. I saw him on a bench once, at 5am, drunk as anything asleep. I woke him up and he asked what time it was. Once it sunk in, he had to dash, as he had a 7am meet for an FA Cup Qualifying game against Diss in Norfolk.

That was Pete.

As was the time I went on an 18-30 holiday to Kavos. He slipped over in bar and landed on his chin. Skin was flapping and hanging and blood was everywhere. He said don't worry about it and went to bed with a plaster. He needed stiches the next day.

I wish I had the ability to be laid-back.

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