Farewell Tom Pugh - 13 March 1937 to 1 February 2016

02 Feb 2016

A great loss to the Rackets community and a County cricketer who was short-listed for the part of James Bond

Tom with beloved Gooners cap

Tom Pugh, who has died aged 78, was one of the last of the amateur cricket captains and was controversially chosen to lead Gloucestershire in place of Tom Graveney, a professional who was one of the best batsmen in the country.

Tom, a suave Old Etonian, was short-listed to become the first James Bond when his career as a sportsman was coming to an end. Although Sean Connery was given the role, Pugh had other links to 007. He had played for the XI at Eton with Henry Blofeld, the commentator whose family name was plucked by Ian Fleming from the membership list at Boodles to become Bond’s arch villain. Tom also married, first, a model, Kitty Green, who appeared in Thunderball; she was dismayed when Terence Young, the director, moved her away from sitting next to Connery in one scene in case her beauty appealed to viewers more than that of Claudine Auger as Domino, a more prominent role.

Tom had enjoyed reading the Bond books and had come to the attention of the film-makers through having advertised cigarettes on television. But he was not a fan of the films and thought the likes of Roger Moore were far too old for the role. He settled instead for running his various enterprises, a flower business and karaoke evenings in Florida and in London, as well as playing Rackets, a game at which he excelled more than at cricket. Indeed, Tom was the model for David Wynne’s sculpture of a Rackets player, commissioned by Lord Aberdare, that stands in the Museum Foyer.

Charles Thomas Michael Pugh was born close to Lord’s Cricket Ground on March 13 1937. His father, Michael, was instumental in opening the second Rackets court at Queen's, and a lifelong supporter of promoting Rackets; his mother, Mary, was an ice hockey international. He was a decent schoolboy cricketer but was considered by some to hardly surpass Old Etonian standard when he was invited to captain Gloucestershire in 1960. He had spent two seasons in and out of their county side, having made one century in a partnership of 256 with Graveney against Derbyshire, which remains a record for their second wicket. In his 80 first-class matches he scored 2,469 runs at an average of 18.56, insufficient to prevent him being sacked at the end of the 1962 season.

Cricket's loss was Rackets gain! Tom was to win numerous Rackets doubles titles (see his UK achievements below), spending much of his time at The Queen’s Club. After selling his nightclub, he returned to selling flowers and importing karaoke machines.

Tom was such a good and determined competitor. He was probably our last link with Peter Latham; when Tom was young, his father, Michael arranged for Tom to have some Tennis coaching from Peter. However, Tom took Rackets more seriously always such good viewing to remember his tussles with Martin Smith, Charles Hue Williams, Howard Angus; prior to Howard taking on Willie Surtees for the World Title. His skill on the court hardly lessened, it seemed, when partnering a Nichols brother he would win the Combined Services recently, over 75. He won the title first with Peter Kershaw, who summoned Tom back whilst an Ordinary Seaman undertaking National Service.

Tom didn’t like unforced errors; he had a deep and knowledgeable analysis of both sports, always ready with thoughtful advice and or justified criticism.

Sadly Tom Pugh moved on to his ethereal cricket pitch and Rackets Court peacefully, at home. This was a merciful release and not before his receiving a full report last Thursday about the final of The Open Singles and the notable exploits of James Stout and Tom’s pupil Alex Titchener-Barrett. To Tom, that was nectar!

Both of Tom’s wives, Kitty Green and Misty Ramsawak, who was from Trinidad and Tobago, pre-deceased him. He is survived by his two sons, Thomas and Bobby, from his first marriage and a daughter, Annabel, from his second marriage.

The T&RA extends its highest respects to a formidable sportsman and character who has lit up many a playing arena with racquet, willow and microphone….usually with notable success and flare.

Tom Pugh, born March 13 1937, died February 1 2016

Tom Pugh's achievments in numbers

Public School Doubles for ETON (1)

  • Winner 1955 partnering Lord Chelsea

Amateur Singles

  • Runner-up 1967

  • Runner-up 1970

Amateur Doubles (4)

  • Winner 1966 partnering JR Thompson

  • Winner 1975, 1976, 1977 partnering WR Boone

Noel Bruce (Old Boy Doubles) for ETON (6)

  • Winner 1962, 1963, 1965 partnering JW Leonard

  • Winner 1964 partnering DM Norman

  • Winner 1984, 1986 partnering WR Boone

Combined Services Past & Present Singles (3)

  • Winner 1959, 1961, 1965

Combined Services Past & Present Doubles (16)

  • Winner 1958, 1959 partnering P Kershaw

  • Winner 1963, 1967, 1972 partnering TME Pugh

  • Winner 1976, 1982, 1983, 1984 partnering GWT Atkins

  • Winner 2002, 2003  partnering PC Nicholls

  • Winner 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011 partnering MW Nicholls

Tom as captain of Gloucestershire

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