Tribute by Short Fine Leg

 

On leaving St. George's School, Harry worked in the quarry at the back of Reforne, so near the Cricket ground he loved so well. As a batsman he was a graceful and stylish opener and being a "left-hander" he was bane to all opening bowlers and a nuisance to all captains and fielders.

Always impeccably dressed, with his blue cap perched jauntily on his head, he adopted an almost nonchalant, but comfortable, stance. With his right shoulder facing the coming onslaught, he was difficult to dislodge - a picture of quiet confidence, almost serenity. Between the wickets he was fast, always looking for that extra run. His favourite strokes were the leg glance, hook to long leg and cover drive, so beloved of all sinistal batsmen - shades of Frank Wooley.

It is however not his batting but his ability behind the stumps for which he was famous. Harry "stood up" very close to the wickets to all bowlers and Messrs. Windust, Lillie, Putman and Dennis were very fast indeed. Taking the ball cleanly without fuss, very few byes were given away with his lightning reflexes he soon had many good batsmen on their way to the pavilion. Crouched behind the stumps, huge pads standing up like columns in a church, a pair of eagerly waiting, clutching hands, he looked like a spider awaiting the arrival of its next victim - a brief interlude, a snick, a "dragged" foot and another victim on his way back to the pavilion, utterly bewildered by his uncanny "sleight of hand", always performed elegantly. Several "followers" always gave a double collection in the box - one half to see the cricket and the other half to see Harry Tompkins "keep wicket".

Early in his career, when batting against Arthur Savage and Biff Wiles at Glacees, he scored 11*, in a total of 12 - one bye. On another occasion he was the "unfortunate" victim of Reverend Hurley's pranks.

Harry Tompkins was indeed a very great wicket keeper. A. H. Windust, who later played for Weymouth (and the County) once described him as the best wicket keeper he had ever played with or against.

The form of this outstanding stumper quickly spread and he was without doubt in line for County honours. However, this was not to be because of illness.

Harry was a great supporter of Portland United FC and after a trip to Gorleston in the FA Amateur Cup he became very ill - an illness which lasted a long time and completely altered his cricketing life - indeed his whole future. While convalescing not only did he become well known at Molyneux, the home of Wolverhampton Wanderers FC, but later could be seen doing light work on our ground, or scoring for the cricket team. Soon he returned to his work with the Stone Firms and in 1933 became Captain and Chairman. This was the last season in a playing capacity, but his work for the Red Triangle Cricket Club continued for a period of some 40 years. In many years association with our Club he has been a player, Captain, Chairman and President - a wonderful record.