I need brandy says Bird after OBE honour

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Legendary cricket umpire Dickie Bird was left bowled over by the experience of receiving an OBE from the Prince of Wales.

He joked about needing a strong tipple after the Buckingham Palace ceremony, declaring: “I don’t normally drink, but I could do with a brandy.”

The popular Yorkshireman described the award as a “great honour” and said it was something he would cherish.

Bird, 79, from Barnsley, was recognised for his sporting career and also his charity work, establishing his Dickie Bird Foundation to help underprivileged youngsters.

Speaking after the ceremony, he said: “This makes me look back to my playing and my umpiring days and also my charity. We give grants to help youngsters with their sports. They’ve got to be under 18 and my aim is to get them off street corners, get them away from television and give them a start in life.”

He was fondly regarded as one of the game’s great characters as well as one of its finest umpires.

He enjoyed a 23-year career as an international umpire before stepping down in 1996. He also played first-class cricket for Yorkshire and Leicestershire in his younger days.

But he criticised the use of replays and technology to help umpires make crucial decisions in matches.

He said: “I do miss umpiring, but it’s completely changed now. Umpiring is done by a machine. In my era we made the decisions on the field.

“If umpires made a mistake in those days people talked about it in the pubs, in the clubs, the Press, the television, the radio – it was part of the game. Now it’s changed so much. I certainly miss it, but you cannot stop time.”

Prince Charles presented the honour just a few months after the men met in the former umpire’s home town, Barnsley, chatting beneath a statue of the ex-official, unveiled in 2009.

Bird said: “The Prince said to me it was a well deserved honour, and it was so nice to see that I’ve got it and I said ‘thank you very much for coming to Barnsley’.”