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(Re-)Introducing Our New Club Ambassador!

We have some exciting news to share regarding a recent appointment to the role of Club Ambassador for our former player, a BA11 and Somerset legend, Colin Dredge, the 'Demon of Frome'! Colin has been and will continue to help out during half-time and full-time at Badgers Hill, hosting guests in the Directors' Suite on match days.

For our younger supporters or more recent visitors to Badgers Hill, please read on to find out more about one of Frome and Somerset's most gifted sportsmen!

As the usual suspects made their way onto the Frome Town Supporters’ Club bus, a mutter from one travelling fan to another caught my ear. ‘That’s Colin Dredge, isn’t it?’ was what I had heard and thought no more of it. A veritable infant after a mere eighteen months of watching the Robins, little did I know why that name was said with reverence and evoked such a hush. It didn’t trouble me a huge amount either, staring out of a drizzly window as the coach drifted north towards Malvern. 

It was only at the end of the warm-up when the chairman, Del Graham, pointed the way of a rangy figure under the lean-to and explained his noteworthiness. Oh! the Colin Dredge, not just one of the ground-hopping Frome faithful, eager to add another pin on the Southern League map, but one of the town’s most celebrated sporting figures. Introductions were quickly made and so began one of the more indelible conversations on an away afternoon.

It wasn’t a name with which I was familiar, but Dredgey was one of the original cult heroes of county cricket, the ‘Demon of Frome’ (his nickname coined by journalist Alan Gibson), equably holding his own amid the perceived egos and mythical imports who made up Somerset’s eclectic dressing room in the late 70s and 80s. It was and remains the county’s most successful spell, the flamboyance of Sirs Ian Botham and Viv Richards complemented perfectly by the brutal ferocity of Joel Garner, TMS’ wily off-spinner Vic Marks and the inscrutable Peter Roebuck under the captaincy of ‘the Brians’ Close and Rose. Dredge’s catapult action would feature in four of the five finals that Somerset would reach between 1979 and 1983, as his side won each of the limited-overs tournaments, the Gillette Cup (twice), John Player’s League and the Benson and Hedges Cup (twice), but never that elusive County Championship..

His achievements alongside his seven brothers for Frome’s First XI are no less folklorised among those BA11 residents in the know. As Colin and I chatted for ten or so minutes on the sideline as the Robins went through their warm-ups, he revealed that Somerset could have been deprived of his seam bowling. It had been a close-run thing, his decision to pick professional cricket. He had been offered a part-time professional contract after earning the admirations of and securing a trial with Bristol City in the mid-70s. However, cricket beckoned and, having signed  for the county in 1976, the first of twelve seasons spent down in Taunton, Colin recalled the days when players were contracted from April to September and had to make up their income for the winter months. It is a world away from the contracts that the county professionals receive now and the ubiquitous opportunities to spend the winter months seconded away in Twenty20 franchise leagues around the world.

When not working as a toolmaker for Rolls Royce, Dredgey’s winters were punctuated with equally renowned moments in the red kit of Frome Town. Denis Compton’s FA Cup win with Arsenal and Ian Botham’s blink-or-you’ll-miss-it Football League career in defence for Yeovil and Scunthorpe are common enough knowledge. While Beefy was doing his thing, Colin would first play for Frome Town’s Reserves as a teenager in the autumn of 1973, occasionally in same line-up as two of his brothers, Terry and John. As precocious and prolific a goalscorer as he was wicket-taker, he had scored 27 goals in Somerset Senior League side by late November (including all five in a 5-0 win at Dundry) before the other Robins would swoop in before a chance to step up to Frome’s first-team. 

The prospect of tranquil afternoons in the sun at Taunton prevailed over wet Saturdays at Ashton Gate. Dredgey would return to Frome Town’s ranks in September 1975, this time in the First XI. It did not take the town’s sporting prodigy long before he scored a hat-trick in a memorable 5-3 FA Cup replay win over Andover, one of his most acclaimed appearances alongside the three he scored in an 8-1 demolition of Bridgwater. He wrought the same hellish torment upon opponent defenders as he had upon opposition batsmen. His spells at Badgers Hill were memorable, though on-and-off. Due to cricketing commitments either side of the summer, Colin never played a full season for Frome Town and would have a hiatus between 1979 and 1981 before resuming for another four years. Not one to be held back by a busy schedule, he was top-scorer in two of those seasons, his best return of 18 goals coming in 1983-4. In total, the Demon played just over 200 first-team games, scoring 81 goals. For context, that is a strike rate and career length not dissimilar to present-day hero, Jon Davies!

Colin would eventually hang up both sets of boots in the late eighties, moving back to the town from Taunton after his benefit season and working for Network Rail in Westbury, the job from which he recently retired. The Dredge surname has featured heavily on the scorebooks of Frome CC over the last few decades, where he remains President. He explained to me how the county game in 2023 differs to the summers he would play - the players would drive themselves up from Taunton after a three-day game during the week and play in the John Player League in Scarborough on a Sunday before returning back that very same evening. Think of all of those miles covered, the length and breadth of the country multiple times over the course of the season week in and week out! And that is before one thinks of how far Frome is from Taunton, out in the sticks from a cricketing perspective. This is a reality he mentioned which has an impact on the young players from BA11 who are invited to play for Somerset’s age-groups and have to navigate all those miles and display staggering levels of commitment before they have even pulled on their whites.

Dredgey spoke warmly about how his season ticket for the County Ground still arrives in the post every year, how he likes to get down there as much as he can, and recalled a day recently when Joel Garner, the Big Bird himself, had rung him during a visit to Bath to organise a catch-up. Glorious occasions, like the many in which he took such a memorable part, have been in vogue at Badgers Hill in recent times and, as many know, Colin still enjoys watching the Robins, home and away, on a regular basis. Jenson Button may take headlines with his bridge, but not many in the town can claim to have had quite the sporting footprint on either side of Berkley Road, and further afield across the shires, as the Demon of Frome.

Article written by Zeb Baker-Smith, with research provided by Steve Jupp.


Don't forget to book your tickets for our upcoming league clash against Bashley

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