Hambledon ‘Living Legend’ wins 2023 Tony Baker Award

Topsy Turner pictured with the Tony Baker 'Unsung Hero' award, sitting on his roller
© 2023 Mike Vimpany

Hambledon cricket legend Robert ‘Topsy’ Turner has been awarded the Southern Premier League’s Tony Baker ‘Unsung Hero’ award in recognition of his staggering contribution to the historic village club.

A still youthful 82, Topsy has spent his entire cricket career at Hambledon, over 50 years of which were as an opening batsman and miserly off-spin bowler – with statistics that simply boggle the mind.

Without doubt Hambledon’s greatest all-rounder in the club’s long history, he was among the Hampshire League’s leading aggregate run scorers and wicket takers in the club’s title strewn climb through the pyramid which began in 1980.

Turner scored over 30,000 runs and captured 3,500 or so wickets in all Hambledon cricket before a knee injury brought his illustrious career to an end in 2006.

In the Seventies and Eighties, Turner achieved the double of 1,000 runs and 100 wickets in 12 out of 14 seasons, and in 11 years from 1972 had amassed 13,641 runs with the same trusty old GM bat, which must have been one of the most productive in the world!

His Hambledon clubmates once sent the bat off for repairs, only for it to be returned marked ‘unrepairable’. Topsy went on to get another 2,000 runs with it. For him, read ‘irreplaceable’.

He's been at the club for 68 years and since the 1980s has also served as groundsman, and can still be found first thing nearly every morning throughout the summer preparing pitches or the outfield, supported by wife Sue, who keeps the clubhouse tidy and well-presented.

In the off-season, Topsy will often be found with a paintbrush, sprucing up the changing rooms or pavilion.

“In short, the club would be lost without him,” reflected Hambledon secretary Seb Duggan.

“Many around the club probably do not appreciate how much hard work Topsy puts into the ground, and how much he will be missed when he finally retires from it.

“And nearly 70 years devoted to the same club is worthy of hero status in anyone's book and that's why he's an ideal recipient of the Tony Baker ‘Unsung Hero’ award.”

Robert ‘Topsy’ Turner is the second recipient of the Tony Baker award, which is presented annually, in memory of the late Tony Baker, the former Hampshire Chief Executive and Old Tauntonians all-rounder, who died in 2017 having dedicated his life to cricket and was massively involved in club and county cricket in Hampshire.

Burridge stalwart Gerry Candy, also an Octogenarian, was the inaugural award winner in 2022.

Many thanks to Mike Vimpany for allowing us to reproduce this article.