LEGENDARY cricket umpire Dickie Bird was a big hit with a bus-load of tourists who stopped to admire his statue - he gave them a guided tour of his beloved Barnsley!
The 78-year-old former Test umpire was driving past when he saw a crowd looking at his life-size bronze at the rear of St Mary’s Garden.
So he pulled over, so they could meet the real thing.
And after chatting and posing for photos he gave them a personal tour of his home town. He even took them shopping in Barnsley market.
“I couldn’t resist,” beamed Dickie, after unveiling a plaque near the statue to honour sponsors who gave almost £80,000 to pay for it as part of an Arts In Action project.
Dickie, who umpired 66 Test matches and three World Cup finals before retiring in 1996, said: “I didn’t know until I stopped that the bus-load of cricket fans were from Liverpool.
“They recognised me straightaway and they went berserk. They went mad.
“From what I could gather they had only made a stop-off in Barnsley to look at the statue. But I’m so proud of my town that I couldn’t let them go without seeing more, so I took them on a guided tour.
“They did all their shopping around the market and they ended up spending all day here. They had a wonderful time.
“I’m Barnsley through and through. I was born and bred here on this spot, where the statue is.
“People from all over the world have been to look at it – from India, Sri Lanka and Australia. They sometimes come in groups. That’s marvellous.”
Fun lovers have hung bras, knickers and even pizzas on the statue’s raised ‘That’s out’ right index finger. But one addition Dickie loved was a fan’s sign bragging, ‘We won the Ashes’.
“It wasn’t me,” he laughed. “I didn’t put it there. But that was excellent.”
There has been talk of replicas of the statue in Melbourne and a site in India, where Dickie is still regarded with great affection by cricket stars and fans alike.
Dickie said of the sponsors who funded his statue: “I’m so very, very grateful to them. It’s a great honour to have a statue in my honour – and while I’m still alive.
“It’s marvellous for all these sponsors to give so much, because that statue is almost £80,000. It’s a lot of money.”
Mel Dyke, who helped campaign for the statue, said: “It’s the end of a three-year project. Dickie’s statue, by sculptor Graham Ibbeson, was the first three-dimensional piece for Arts In Action.
“This day was all about thanking the sponsors, for the support we had for it.”
Sponsors, named on the plaque are Lady Clegg, John Edwards, Martin Brook, Andy Bottrill, Martin Blake, Phil Coppard, Sidney Charles Grey, Mary and Benny Robinson, Pravin and Anil Shah, University Campus Barnsley and Barnsley College, with support from Barnsley Council and Yorkshire Forward.