|Full name||Michael Vyvyan Spurway|
24 January 1909|
Heathfield, Somerset, England
|Died||7 July 2007
Corfe, Taunton, Somerset, England
|Domestic team information|
Source: CricketArchive, 22 December 2015
Michael Vyvyan Spurway (24 January 1909 – 7 July 2007) was a British civil servant in the Colonial Service and later a businessman. He also played county cricket for Somerset, and served as a pilot in the RAF in the Second World War.
Spurway and his twin sister were born in Heathfield near Taunton in Somerset, the youngest of six children. His father, Edward Spurway, the local rector, died on 8 February 1914, and three elder brothers were killed in the First World War: two of these brothers, George Vyvan Spurway (1893-1918) and Richard Popham Spurway (1890-1915), attended Sherborne School and their names are recorded in the School's Book of Remembrance. His mother was left in difficult circumstances, bringing up her two youngest children; Spurway's surviving brother Francis Spurway was an adult by this time.
He was educated at St Edward's School in Oxford, and read history at Christ Church, Oxford. He enjoyed sports, playing cricket for his college, and winning a half Blue playing hockey for Oxford University. He also flew with the University Air Squadron.
Spurway played cricket for the Somerset Stragglers while at university. He won a place in the Somerset county team as a wicketkeeper-batsman in three games of first-class cricket in July 1929, but yielded his place in the team to his brother, Francis, who had played irregularly for Somerset between 1920 and 1929: both were substitutes for Somerset's regular wicketkeeper, Wally Luckes, who was ill for much of the season. Michael Spurway played against Leicestershire at Taunton, and against Sussex and Derbyshire at Bath. Free-hitting, he was known as "Slogger Spurway".
He moved to Cyprus in 1939, where he also played cricket.
He was transferred to the Middle East in 1942, shipped out on a freighter carrying disassembled Spitfires. The aircraft were reassembled at Takoradi on the Gold Coast (modern Ghana), and Spurway volunteered to fly one to Egypt, spending a week flying over the Sahara Desert, Chad and Sudan.
He became the commander of the Middle East Photographic Interpretation Unit in Cairo, and then moved to Italy to join the Advanced Headquarters of the Desert Air Force, where he commanded the Photographic Intelligence Cell. He was involved in the resettlement of refugees in Austria. By the end of the War, he held the rank of Wing Commander, and had been mentioned in dispatches and received the OBE.
He was captain of the Desert Air Force cricket team when it toured England in 1945.
He returned to Cyprus after leaving the RAF, returning to the civil service and becoming chairman of the Nicosia Race Club. He returned to London in 1950, serving in the Colonial Office, administering the Marshall Plan. He was posted to Malaya in 1952, and became head of the Malayan Borneo Defence Secretariat. He won a trophy playing tennis in Malaya. He was then posted to Singapore staying in the Raffles Hotel. He played cricket for Singapore against Malaya.
He became an executive director at United Breweries in 1963, and took many other directorships in the drinks industry. He also served as deputy chairman and chief executive of the steel foundry and engineering group, Lake & Elliot.
He retired to the West Country in 1976. He enjoyed country sports. On one occasion, he shot 250 pheasants at one stand with one gun; another time, he caught a salmon weighing 32 lb. He had also hunted big game in Africa, and enjoyed fast cars, driving an Aston Martin.
He married twice. He first married Margaret Plowden-Wardlaw in 1937. After the death of his first wife, he remarried, to Jenna. He was survived by his son, and stepson.
Following the death of Frank Shipston on 6 July 2005, Spurway was thought to be the oldest surviving county cricketer, and, at the time of his death, the last person alive to have played county cricket in the 1920s.