Bob Ratcliffe Obituary

Bob Ratcliffe (CR 1988-2015), who joined the College as cricket professional and sports hall manager, died on 28th August 2023 at the age of 71, after a lengthy illness.

Robert Malcolm Ratcliffe was born on 29th October 1951 and grew up in the east Lancashire mill town of Accrington. His schooldays revolved around sport and he had the distinction of representing England Schoolboys in two disciplines: football as a goalkeeper and cricket as an opening batsman. Blackpool FC offered him a professional contract but he decided to go to Old Trafford and join Lancashire CCC in 1969.

Bob, who quickly developed into a genuine all-rounder played 181 games for Lancashire with best figures of 7-58 against Hampshire at Bournemouth in 1978 and an undefeated championship hundred against Warwickshire at Old Trafford in 1979. He was a member of the Gillette Cup winning team of 1975 and his bowling figures of 12 overs, 5 maidens, 25 runs, 3 wickets in the final played a huge part in Lancashire’s victory.

Injuries prevented a longer first class career and he left Lancashire in 1980 to play minor counties cricket with Cumberland and as a professional in Perthshire and in the Ribblesdale League. During this period, he coached at a variety of schools in the north of England and Scotland and was working at QEGS Blackburn when he applied to Marlborough.

Around this time, The Cricketer had an article about the plethora of coaches that Lancashire had produced and was effusive about Bob’s qualities: “the jewel in the crown is Bob Ratcliffe, who has a unique ability to be on the same wavelength as those fortunate to receive his coaching”. The article was spot on.

Universally known as Ratters, he arrived in Wiltshire in April 1988, became a well-known figure in the town within weeks, and served the College, which he loved and was immensely proud of, with distinction as cricket professional, sports hall manager, hockey coach, particularly the 3rd XI girls’ team, and tutor in B1 and Turner before his formal retirement in 2011 and final retirement in 2015. He was a wonderful coach, with a quiet word and suggestion, and a genuine connection with everyone he dealt with. He liked people and they liked him. He probably came into contact with around 4,500 Marlburians and was the coach to about a thousand during his time; I am sure they would agree that they were fortunate to receive his sporting wisdom.

Whilst his contribution to sport, and cricket in particular was immense, there was far more to this man than that. As well as being a loving husband to Sue, proud father to Lee and Helen and a doting grandfather, Bob was a true and loyal friend to many. He had a heart of gold, a real generosity of spirit and would go out of his way to help anyone he could. It would be wrong to say he would give the tracksuit off his back …but he would give almost anything else. His reputation for socialising preceded him and many have suffered the after-effects of being ‘cottaged’, the word introduced into the Marlborough vocabulary to describe a late night visit to Bridewell Cottage, Bob and Sue’s home for twenty-three years.

We have lost a great man, whose light will remain with us, and a dear friend who lived and loved life to the full. Our hearts go out to Sue, who he married in September 1973, Lee (C1 1990-95) and Helen (MM 1994-99).

 Bob Pick (CR 1980-2012)