A driving force of Sussex Cricket takes a back seat

Dick Holste MBE
Dick Holste MBE

THINK of English cricket stars over the last quarter of a century and names such as Ian Botham, Andrew Flintoff and Michael Atherton inevitably come to mind.

But there have also been many stars behind the cricket scene, men who have saved, shaped and revolutionised clubs.

One of the leading lights of the latter category is undoubtedly Dick Holste who has just stepped down from the Sussex County Cricket Club committee (now the Sussex board of directors) after 18 years. In recognition of his services he has been made a vice-president.

Holste first joined the committee back in 1997 as part of a somewhat acrimonious coup led by Tony Pigott. Robin Marlar and Jim May were the others involved with Holste taking over the duties of treasurer.

It was a revolution that sparked a major change in the county’s fortunes after the previous committee had resigned en bloc.

“The first thing we did was to sign Chris Adams who promised us that he would win us the County Championship in five years.

He did it in six’, smiled Holste, as he recalled the never-to-be-forgotten moment in 2003 when Murray Goodwin pulled Leicestershire fast-medium bowler Phillip DeFreitas to the mid-wicket boundary for the runs that were to clinch Sussex their first county title in 164 years.

“It was a wonderful moment, the most amazing of my life. With the agreement of the umpires the players did a lap of honour around the ground immediately the winning runs were scored. Afterwards I went onto the balcony to congratulate the players.”

Two more county triumphs followed as Holste maintained his reputation as the man with the Midas Touch becoming treasurer to seven county beneficiaries starting with Paul Parker in 1987. The others were Ian Gould, Tony Pigott, Colin Wells, Alan Wells, Peter Moores (now the England coach) and Chris Adams, all benefiting immensely from Holste’s experience as a senior bank manager.

He believes Goodwin and the former Pakistani spin ace Mustaq to be the greatest players to have worn the Sussex shirt in his time.

Holste first became involved in cricket as a teenager, playing as a junior for Loughton, Essex and later captaining Royal Ascot (1981-95) in the Berkshire League.

But while his abilities as an opening batsman were considerable, his administrative skills were immense and his arrival in Eastbourne was to signal the revival of Willingdon Cricket Club.

With the invaluable assistance of Mervyn Yates and Peter Goad, Willingdon CC became stronger by the year. From struggling to field two teams, the Dons now comfortably turn out three and the club’s annual dinner, regularly attended by England hockey international and gifted after-dinner speaker Roger Dakin, is one of the area’s top sporting social events of the year. Every summer, all the club’s players are the guests of the Holste household for an annual barbecue.

Holste has captained Willingdon first and second elevens and has been chairman since 1987. With his playing days now over, he is now on the panel of umpires for the East Sussex League.

There are few more loyal England supporters than Dick Holste whose travels in support of his country’s Test cricketers have taken him to the West Indies (three times), Sri Lanka (three), Australia (three), South Africa (three) and New Zealand and India (once).

In a week’s time he will be off to the West Indies to cheer on England once again.

Away from the cricket field Holste’s great loves are golf and football and he is a keen supporter of Eastbourne Borough. Until last year he was a director of Willingdon Golf Club and is currently in his 20th year as the club’s treasurer.

With his huge involvement in sport, one would hardly expect Dick Holste to have time for other activities. But nothing could be further than the truth. He was a governor of the Susssex Downs College for 25 years and chairman for seven, retiring in August, 2013.

He has also been a governor of Bishop Bell C of E School and Eastbourne Academy and remains vice-chairman of Bishop Bell. His services to further education were rewarded with the MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours and a chat ‘asting several minutes with The Queen at Buckingham Palace in October 2013.

In 2010, he received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Sussex Business Awards evening.

Now in his early seventies, Dick Holste is taking a little more of a back seat. But after a lifetime of service to sport and education, there are no regrets.

“I have enjoyed every minute.” he grinned. “The trouble is, I have never been able to join anything without getting involved.”

Now he is looking forward to a summer of success as he watches Sussex with fewer responsibilities than in the past.

Hopefully they will reward him with more memorable moments, but none are likely to equal that first ever title triumph back in September, 2003.