Optimists Cricket Club News story

Pete Mitchell

13 Mar 2019

It is with great sadness that I have to inform you that Pete Mitchell has succumbed to Alzheimer’s Disease, which had caused his slow decline over the past few years. On behalf of the Optimists Cricket Club, I would like to extend my sincere condolences to Christine and their two children Adam and Sarah.

Long-time Optimist, Mike West, reminisces: “Pete was a long-standing member of the cricket club having arrived in Luxembourg in 1979. He was a very useful bowler being able to swing the ball and make it nip away thanks to an action – ‘modelled on’ he said – but actually a complete copy of his hero Fred Trueman. Happily, for those of us batting, he wasn’t in quite the same category when it came to speed. Pete was a useful late-middle order bat but unusually for most cricketers he confessed that fielding was his favourite part of the game. He delighted in patrolling the covers, had a safe pair of hands, and was looking to run out idle batsmen when the rest of us were content to quietly lob the ball back to the bowler. Pete was proud of his Yorkshire roots and was a firm believer in playing the game to win but with respect for your opponents. About thirty years ago, before the leagues had been started, OCC went up to Brussels to play RBCC. Pete was skipper and we unfortunately had a very weak batting side. In the dressing room before the game he got us together and said, “Look, we don’t have much batting so I’m thinking if I win the toss, I’ll put them and then we can at least make a game of it or hang on for a draw if we can. There’s no point in us coming all this way to lose quickly then go home again!” We all agreed it was the only thing to do given our batting strength, or lack of it. Five minutes later, Pete returned to the dressing room very red in the face and flustered. “We’re batting.” He said. We looked at him in bewilderment. “Bloody hell!” said Pete, “He said to me (meaning Desmond, the RBCC captain), … he said to me ‘We’ll bat first ‘cos you’ve got no batting.’ I said, ‘Well, we’ll toss first.’ ’Why bother?’ says Desmond. That really got my back up, so I said, ‘No, no, no! We’ll toss’. He didn’t even have a coin! So I made him go and get one, and then I won so I looked at him and said ‘We’ll bat!’” Did somebody say there was a seam of stubbornness in Yorkshire? I don’t remember what we scored but we were on the road back home by 5pm as predicted.

In the mid-90s Pete didn’t play so much as he had opened his own sports shop, first in Schuttrange, then in Moutfort. Although it is a hairdresser’s now, the shop in Moutfort still carries the name ‘PM’. He also used to load up his red van with cricket kit, in those pre-internet and online shopping days, and drive off around the clubs of Belgium, France and farther afield selling kit to cricketers who were very happy that he was offering such a service. Pete was also very involved in the Luxembourg darts leagues.”

From my perspective, I grew up playing cricket in Luxembourg with the OCC and Pete was always part of my memories as one of the senior cricketers in the club. As a young cricketer, I was a keen fielder and Pete was always a benchmark in this area. Something I could only aspire to. I also remember him, as Mike does, as a fierce competitor, but very principled about playing the game in the right spirit. A good away swing bowler, he always took the game to the opponents, something which resonated with me, even at an early age. Off the field, he would always be keen to socialise, sometimes bringing his high principles to the table, and then immediately cracking some joke, accompanied by his unmistakeable laughter. To me, he always seemed to encapsulate the spirit of cricket – play hard to win, while respecting the opponents, and don’t forget to have a laugh. The club is the poorer for his departure.

The funeral will be held tomorrow, Thursday 14th March at the chapel of Merl cemetery at 16h00. Christine has invited you to also join her at the Biscuiterie, Hotel Parc Belair, afterwards, where we will share food, drinks, photos, music and memories. The Biscuiterie is a garden room about 50m before the hotel, set back from the main road with limited parking, but parking at the hotel is available, and free.

For those of you intending to go, I would highly recommend that you wear the OCC club tie, if you own one.

William Heath