It is with great sadness that we report the passing of former Walsall Health captain Tim Oliver today at the age of 56.
Legend is a disposable word in this day and age, but Tim is a Walsall Health legend in the purest sense of the word.
Tim, who was also the leader of the Labour group on Walsall Council, will be remembered as a fiery, committed and supremely talented batsman and bowler whose trademark ‘square-jaw’ look at crucial stages during games served as an inspiration to his team mates and a warning sign to the opposition about what was likely to happen in the near future.
A multiple record holder for The Elf, Tim started playing for the club in the late 80s along with a number of colleagues from his other team Walsall Phoenix who joined the mid-week side.
He would soon take over as skipper the sunday side, taking over from Martin Liggins. After handing over the captaincy to Rich Fell, Tim continued playing right up until 2012, including an appearance at the club’s 25th anniversary game (see photo above) where he was in typically combative form.
He was a man whose snarling and intense manner on the cricket field regularly gave way to a beaming smile which never failed to be disarming, especially when accompanied by a friendly slap on the shoulder for newer players to the fold, which was always a reassuring and welcome gesture.
He was also famous for his quiet walks around the boundary, no doubt occupying himself with solving the latest political challenge he had to face.
Steve Fell, a team mate for over 20 years, said: “Tim was held in high regard with everybody who played with him – and with a good many of the opposition who appreciated his never-say-die and combative attitude.
“He could be a hot-blooded player but rarely with his own teammates, preferring to save his infamous ‘square-jaw’ moments for the opposition.
“The only time he would be annoyed with one of his own players would be if they gave him out – dropped catches and misfields were quickly forgiven.
“He had a sharp mind and I – as do many others – remember the deep and meaningful conversations to be had walking around the boundary.
“But above all Tim was a tremendous fighter and had no idea what was a lost cause.
“This was most obvious when he was involved in a horrific car accident some years ago which left him with multiple injuries.
“Many believed he would struggle to walk again, let alone play cricket. But his sheer determination saw him return to the field and, although he might have lost a yard of pace from his bowling and was a little slower in the field, he was still probably the best player in the team.
“He showed this fighting spirit to the very end when he was clearly very ill and many would have given up.”
Team mate Rick Jarrams said: “On the field Tim was a colossus, amazing with both bat and ball and a reluctant but successful captain for several years.
“Tim will always be a true WHCC legend and will be sadly missed by your team mates past and present and also by many of our friendly opponents over the years.”
At 56, Tim was taken from us far too soon. But he leaves memories and everybody involved at Walsall Health Cricket Club send their deepest sympathies to his family and friends.
Team mates, wherever they may be this evening, will no doubt raise a glass to Tim.