A Never Ending Love Affair – Member Profile, Jean Ambers

Monday 19th May 2014

A love affair with all things cricket was instilled into Jean Ambers from an early age. She was just seven when her parents took her to watch the game at her village club in Stinchcombe in Gloucestershire, where Wally Hammond and WG Grace had learned their trade.

Jean has been an avid cricket fan ever since and a regular Kent supporter for many years and is a familiar figure at The Spitfire Ground, St Lawrence. She particularly enjoys the county championship and watches games from a seat in the front row of the Lower Woolley.

Kent are certainly Jean’s local team as she lives a stones throw from the ground in New Dover Road and she is usually in the Les Ames stand bar minutes after the gates open having a coffee with her other cricket friends for what she calls “their committee meeting” to discuss Kent cricket in particular and the game in general.

Jean was a follower of West Country cricket and as a child enjoyed watching Tom Graveney with her parents. She moved to Canterbury in 1983. Her late husband Jack was not a cricket fan but that did not deter her from following the sport and it became an even more important part of her life when she was widowed in 1994.

“It became an important refuge for me as I was able to meet up with other supporters and find new friends”, said Jean. “There were a dozen or so of us who would get together and although the numbers have dwindled we still meet up at games for a chat and friendship”.

Jean made sure her son Jason became interested in the game and used to take him to Maidstone to watch games. He is still a fan although family commitments do not allow him to attend matches as much as would like. Jason lives at Tunbridge Wells, which allows Jean a convenient B and B for Cricket Week, which she eagerly looks forward to.

Although the four day game is her favourite form of cricket she also enjoys the one day competitions and accepts that they are commercially the financial lifeline for most Counties. She is impressed with the floodlights at the ground and had embraces the changes made. “The scenery is not that important. It is the cricket that matters”.

Jean loved watching the exploits of many of the former players including Carl Hooper, Neil Taylor, Mark Benson, and Trevor Ward as well as closely following the careers of all the Cowdrey’s and she has a special affection for Nigel Llong, now one of the worlds top umpires.

Mark Davies and Darren Stevens are currently Jean’s favourite players and like all Kent supporters is delighted and relieved that Darren is playing for Kent again this season.

Jean has high hopes that the team will achieve success this season and particularly looks forward to Canterbury Week, and all the history that surrounds it, with the Military Band the highlight.

John Shepherd is another firm favourite of Jean’s. “As well as being a great player, John was a marvellous Club President”, she said. “He would always make himself available to go round the ground and talk to supporters of all ages”.

When she is not watching cricket, Jean is involved with the Womens Institute and is a former County chairman. She also organises coffee mornings for the League of Friends to raise money for Canterbury Hospital.

Jean is a keen Bridge player, mostly in the winter, but cricket, and especially Kent still remains the focal point of her busy life and continues to be the love affair that started in those childhood days.

Interview by Peter Burrowes