English cricket February 10, 2017

Barmy Army trumpeter loses - then finds - trumpet

Billy Cooper, the Barmy Army trumpeter, succeeded in recovering his instrument after leaving it on a train

Billy Cooper entertains a crowd including Geoff Boycott during the Wellington Test of 2013 © Getty Images

Billy Cooper, the Barmy Army trumpeter, has had his trumpet returned* after leaving it on a train.

Cooper, a professional musician who has played with the London Philharmonic Orchestra and on the Divine Comedy's most recent single among many other credits, was traveling on the 22.30 Southeastern line train from Charing Cross to Tunbridge Wells on Thursday night having played in "Matilda" in the West End. Moments after leaving the train at Orpington, he realised he had left his silver Vincent Bach trumpet in a black protect gig bag on an overhead luggage rack. Initially, it seemed it had not been found or handed in to lost property.

"I usually leave it at the theatre," Cooper told ESPNcricinfo. "But I had a recording session in the morning, so I wanted to take it home with me. It wasn't until I reached home, about half an hour after getting off the train, that I realised what I had done. Someone, somewhere must know where it is and if they could return it I would be eternally grateful."

But an off-duty police officer had spotted the unattended bag. When nobody claimed it, she went through its pockets, found a pay-slip from the Royal Shakespeare Company (for whom Cooper has been working) and contacted them. By Friday night, Cooper was a hugely relieved man.

This wasn't the first time he had forgotten his trumpet. His relationship with the Barmy Army stems back to the 2004 Caribbean tour when he left it in a taxi in Barbados only to hear someone attempting to play it a couple of weeks later at the Test in Antigua. Proving it was his by playing The Great Escape on it, the Barmy Army sang along and subsequently asked him to attend more games with them.

He was less fortunate in Sri Lanka 2012. Celebrating an England win, he was playing in the sea in the early hours of the morning when a large wave ripped a prototype trumpet he was trialling from his hands. It was not recovered.

While Cooper is not welcome at all grounds (Lord's and Trent Bridge, for example, remain immune to his charms) he is generally highly popular with both players (he appeared on stage alongside the 2005 Ashes winners in Trafalgar Square) and spectators for his skill and good-natured wit. The value of the trumpet is understood to be around £3000 and it is marked with serial numbers which should render selling it on problematic.

* 19.30 GMT - This story was updated after Cooper's trumpet was returned

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • InsideHedge on February 17, 2017, 21:40 GMT

    @M_Jones: I was there on the 5th day too. Luckily, I had a freebie for the Marston Suite and could confine myself to the suite protected by thick glass. Lovely nosh they had in there, very enjoyable! I do remember the racket, a friend of mine wasn't interested in the suite and preferred to be in the corner of the old Rea Bank (Hollies Stand) with the Barmy, Copper and all. Good ending to the match tho.

  • AshesErnie on February 14, 2017, 7:57 GMT

    Highly popular indeed. Lovely bloke and great trumpeter who picks his tunes with subtle wit. On tour he is the glue that holds England fans and players together, sadly missed in recent times..... rumoured family commitments?

  • M_Jones on February 12, 2017, 18:09 GMT

    Highly popular with some spectators, perhaps, but by no means all. I was at the fifth day of England vs Pakistan at Edgbaston last summer, and the only thing which distracted from an otherwise enjoyable day was the racket created by this bloke and his Barmy Army mates ("singing" would not be an accurate description of the noise they make), unfortunately still audible even though I was on the opposite side of the ground. I think I might watch my next Test at Trent Bridge, where they have the sense to ban musical instruments.

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