HEART-WARMING tributes have been paid to the immensely popular cricket umpire John Trotter, who sadly last month passed away aged 85.

Trotter was renowned as a top-quality, no-nonsense umpire across a career spanning more than 30 years.

After qualifying in 1991, he stood in Western League and Dorset League games and in a multitude of disability, youth and women’s matches, always making himself available when required.

In his heyday, Trotter also took to the field as a fast swing bowler, turning out on Saturdays for Weymouth Cavaliers and in local evening league games for Dibbens and the Royal British Legion, for whom he also played on Sundays.

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Trotter, a keen darts player, died peacefully in his sleep while listening to Talksport. News of his passing deeply affected the Dorset cricketing community.

As a mark of respect, dozens of Dorset League matches on Saturday, June 17 were preceded by a poignant minute of silence.

And the outpouring of affection left his son, David, currently a coach and player at Premier League side Martinstown, “overwhelmed”.

He told Echosport: “I’m really overwhelmed, not just the support and messages I’ve received. To see clubs in Dorset doing a minute’s silence choked me up.

“I’m finding it very traumatic. Everyone’s been brilliant, the number of people that have contacted me has really blown me away.”

High among the tales of Trotter’s formative years as an umpire was his learning of the rules.

David said: “I remember sitting and he’d be reading me the Tom Smith Book of Umpiring.

“He’d be asking daft questions like: ‘What happens if I was pushing a pram across the pitch and the ball lands in it?’

“I used to have to test him. I’d fire questions at him as a child. He got more pleasure umpiring the youngsters at Millfield, Bryanston, Canford towards the end.

“He’s done many cup finals in Weymouth and Dorchester, his real focus was the youngsters.”

Dorset Echo: John Trotter, centre left, stands in a match at Redlands, WeymouthJohn Trotter, centre left, stands in a match at Redlands, Weymouth (Image: DORSET ECHO)

Trotter also umpired in matches for the newly-formed Budmouth Cricket Academy and Wessex Academy during the mid-noughties.

And there were more humorous stories stemming from one Wessex tour to Australia.

David added: “They went on tour to Perth and he actually loved it so much that he didn’t come back!

“He stayed over there for six months, he was such a character.

“He also got done for speeding in New Zealand a few times, which doesn’t surprise me! He was raving.”

David handed John’s close friend and fellow umpire Phil Titterington a selection of the late umpire’s mementos as a keepsake.

Titterington, himself one of the most respected officials in Dorset, gave his own tribute to his “best buddy”.

“True legends do not come along too often, but I’m thankful that not only did I come across one, but I had the privilege of calling him a friend,” he said.

“When I started umpiring in 2005, I was lucky enough to have John as my mentor, but he was more than that, a father figure.

“I was constantly asking him questions which he always took time to explain to this newbie.

“Whenever you were in John’s company, he always put you instantly at ease and the conversations were about you, never him.

“I shared many a happy hour with this legend, whether on a cricket field, at a cricket match or the pub on the way home after a long hard day officiating with my best buddy.

“He never failed to make me laugh with his endless tales of work, darts, DIY disasters and, of course, cricket.

“I don’t think John ever got to umpire at Lord’s but now he’s got the best seat in the ground. RIP John.”

John’s funeral service will be held at Weymouth Crematorium on Wednesday, July 19 (10.45am).

Plans are also in action for a day of celebration at Dorchester Cricket Club, along with the unveiling of a framed umpire’s jacket and hat worn by John.