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Memories of Max

12 Mar 2024

Former team-mate Stuart Earp recalls some special moments alongside his skipper Max Eason

Max Eason was a big man. Not just in stature (and to a short-arse like myself he appeared huge), but in life generally.
I had the privilege of playing under his leadership for 20 years in the 80s and 90s when Horspath was a name to be feared in the OCA League and Airey Cup.
He demanded the best from his players and led from the front with a cool head and inspirational captaincy.
But he was a hard man to please at the best of times.
I remember taking a pretty decent over-the-shoulder catch at Hanborough and expected a word of praise from our skipper. All I got was "You made hard work of that, Earpy."
Another fond memory was an Airey Cup final victory over Kennington at Combe.
I told Max I had a prior engagement in Bognor Regis that weekend and couldn't play, but he was having none of it.
"You're playing," he commanded, "and I'll drive you down to bloody Bognor the next day."
He was as good as his word. Max and I opened the batting and put on 80-odd in search of a modest target which set up a comfortable victory after Steve Shorter had blasted through the opposition.
Such was his commitment to HCC. His penance was having to spend a day on Bognor beach with Sandra!
Unlike me, he had buckets for hands, and I can scarcely recall him dropping a catch as he stood like a monument at first slip, with Hammy in the gully. So many opposition batsmen went into the scorebook ct Eason b Godfrey.
Generous to a fault, he often dropped himself down the batting order to give someone else a chance.
I only saw him angry once, in a game at Broughton & North Newington. He berated us at tea for lacking effort in the field, earning himself the nickname 'Mad Max' for the day. He always demanded the best from his players - and got it.
Many club members will have a smile as they recall his famous after-lunch speeches at Horspath Feast.
Feast Day was a very special occasion for Max and he generally made a stack of runs against the President's XI.
This was in the days when the Oxford Mail would regularly dispatch a reporter and photographer to cover the game for their later editions.
Legendary scribe Ron Grimshaw eventually ran out of alliterations for the big man's success - Majestic Max, Marvellous Max, Maestro Max were just some of the headlines.
The fact that he could make a hilarious speech after several pints, wine and port at lunch was a testament to his capacity for alcohol, which thankfully, he never lost.
It's good to see that sons Robbie, Will and Alex have carried on the family tradition.
If only Max could have taken his success on the field onto the dance floor.
In those days, the club held regular discos and parties in the village hall and our leader needed some coaxing (and many pints) to strut his stuff.
As I recall, it was only Dexy's Midnight Runners and 'Come On Eileen' that would stir him into his slow-motion routine. John Travolta he wasn't.
They were happy days and I have only fond memories of a great skipper, good friend and excellent company. He was simply Mr Horspath CC and we won't see the likes of him again.