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Harold Dennis Bird was born in a terraced house in Church Lane, Barnsley, Yorkshire, in 1933. He has always been known as 'Dickie' since his schooldays, although his parents and two sisters always called him Dennis. His father was a miner at the Monk Bretton Colliery. After failing his eleven plus
I met umpire Dickie Bird at Collectormania in Milton Keynes in May 2008. He was really friendly, and my Dad & I spent ages chatting to him. He signed my Royal Doulton character jug, my copy of his autobiography and two photographs.
Dickie Bird signing my photograph
Dickie left school when he was 15, and pursuing his ambition to become a cricketer, joined Barnsley Cricket Club where he played alon
plus, Dickie went to Raley Secondary Modern school in Barnsley where he became captain of both the football & cricket teams, and
and held the ambition to play for England at both sports.
alongside Geoff Boycott and the TV personality Michael Parkinson with whom he became a lifelong friend. Dickie was a good enough batsman to sign for Yorkshire, making his debut in 1956 against Scotland. He played mostly for the second team although he made his highest score (181 not out against Glamorgan in 1959) for the first team.
Going out to bat for Yorkshire
On his way to 181 not out
As a Leicestershire player
Training at Barnsley FC
Dickie Bird captained his school
Over the next 25 years, Dickie Bird umpired in 503 First-Class matches, 491 List-A matches (inc. John Player League, Benson & Hedges Cup and Gillette Cup games), 66 Test matches and 69 One-Day internationals. He also umpired in four World Cup finals.
Dickie Bird says 'That's Out!'
Dickie Bird in 1971
Dickie Bird has signed this photograph to me
Dickie signed this photo for me when I met him at Milton Keynes
I wonder what he is saying to Ian Botham!
Click here for Dickie Bird's statistics as both player and umpire.
Merv Hughes & Dickie Bird
Dickie Bird umpires his last test match in 1996
A guard of honour by the players and a standing ovation from the crowd as England played India in 1996 marked his final Test, at Lord's. Bird, always an emotional man, was reduced to tears. His final first-class game was at Headingley, between Yorkshire and Warwickshire in 1998.
Dickie Bird was highly respected by all the players, who found him charming, diplo-mat
matic and very approachable. He had his eccentricities, and a nervous, fidgety disposition, but he was always calm and entirely impartial in his decision-making. He was known to be reluctant to give lbw decisions, arguing that "the Laws state I have to be certain".
Dickie with his famous 'Out' signal
Away from cricket, he became friends with other cricket-loving personalities including former Prime Minister John Major, the billionaire John
He moved to Leicestershire in 1960 and scored over 1000 runs in his first season. Bird retired as a player in 1965, spent several
several years coaching and then took up umpiring, officiating in his first match in 1970. The first test match he umpired was England aga
v. New Zealand at Headingley in 1973.
Dickie Bird with his three World Cup
Dickie enjoys his Yorkshire tea!
John Paul Getty and the thriller writer Stephen King.
Dickie Bird was awarded the OBE in the Queen's 1986 Birthday Honours List, and the MBE in 2004. He says his proudest moment ever was having lunch with the Queen at Buckingham Palace in 1990. He says, "That day were
were so special. There was only the Queen, Prince Edward, myself and a retired headmistress there.We had a marvellous lunch and then the headmistress had to go and so did Prince Edward because he had other appointments; so I sat there with the Queen all afternoon in the lounge drinking coffee.We talked about everything and let the world go by. It were marvellous. I left at 10 to five!"
Dickie Bird MBE
In 1992, Dickie Bird was the subject of the TV programme This Is Your Life, with guests that included the legendary West Indian player Gary Sobers.
Dickie Bird's autobiography was published in 1997, and became the biggest selling sports book of all time! The follow-up White Cap and Bails (1999) was also a best seller. Dickie's other books include From the Pavilion End (1999) and Dickie Bird's Britain (2002).
Michael Aspel & Dickie Bird on
This is Your Life
Books by Dickie Bird
Dickie has signed my copy of his autobiography
In 2004, he set up The Dickie Bird Foundation,
with the aim of helping disadvantaged young people in Britain, to participate in sport.
Dickie Bird has received honorary degrees from The University of Huddersfield, the University of Leeds and Sheffield Hallam University. He was given the Freedom of the City of Barnsley in 2000.
Dickie Bird unveils his statue in Barnsley
Dickie with his statue model
Michael Parkinson & Dickie Bird get
honorary degrees from Huddersfield University
In 2009, a 6-foot high statue of Dickie Bird (sculpted by Graham Ibbeson at a cost of £70,000) was erec
erected in his honour, close to where he was born in Barnsley, and Dickie was present at the unveiling ceremony.
In 2010 Dickie Bird was one of six celebrities (all over 70 years old) who took part in the BBC's The Young Ones, an experiment to see if living for a week as if it was still 1975
Derek Jameson & Dickie Bird in
The Young Ones
1975, they could overcome some of the problems of ageing.
Dickie in The Young Ones
Dickie Bird, a superb raconteur, is now much in demand as an after-dinner speaker. He lives in Staincross, near Barnsley
Barnsley, in a stone cottage where the great preacher John Wesley once stayed in 1761.
"He will go down in history as the greatest Test umpire ever." (Ray Illingworth)
"Dickie was fair, honest and consistent. Simply the best." (Michael Holding)
"A lovable man, a joy to meet, but he stands no nonsense from anyone." (Brian Johnston)
"The best umpire I have ever seen. There will never be another to touch him." (Viv Richards)
"He is a friend, and a great official." (Dennis Lillee)
"Dickie is respected throughout the world for being both fair and firm." (Geoff Boycott)
"He is a real lovable man, never shy of making the tough decisions." (Sir Garfield Sobers)
"He is a great bloke and completely bonkers!" (Ian Botham)
Dickie Bird has signed on the base of my
Royal Doulton character jug
My 'Dickie Bird' character jug
Dickie holding my character jug