Leslie Harry Compton
September 12, 1912, Woodford, Essex
December 27, 1984, Hendon, Middlesex, (aged 72y 106d)
Right hand Bat
Right arm Medium
Les Compton, brother of the illustrious Denis, died on December 27, at the home of his son in Essex. He was 72. Like his gifted younger brother, Leslie Harry Compton was a first-class cricketer and footballer, playing for Middlesex between 1938 and 1956 and for Arsenal from just before the war until the early 1950s. A large man, he kept wicket, dominating by bulk and considerable reach rather than finesse, holding 468 catches and completing 131 stumpings, the majority off the slow bowling of Jim Sims, Jack Young, Walter Robins, Ian Bedford and brother Denis. He also had a few overs of medium-pace over the years, and took 12 wickets at 47.41.
Les Compton's lower-order batting often came in useful, never more than in August 1947 at Derby when Eddie Gothard took a hat-trick which placed Middlesex, the would-be champions, in some jeopardy. Compton thundered to his only first-class century in 87 minutes, adding 181 for the fifth wicket with Syd Brown. Middlesex went on to win this and the next two matches to take the Championship eventually by 20 points from Gloucestershire. In all, Les Compton scored 5814 runs at 16.75. In his benefit match at Lord's in 1954 he was grotesquely run out by his brother.
His play, first at centre-forward (once scoring 10 goals against Clapton Orient) and then full-back, then at centre-half - where, in modern parlance, he `ruled the box', and was known fondly to contemporaries as `Bighead'- at last won him two full England caps in 1950: against Wales and Yugoslavia. At 38 he became England's oldest soccer debutant, a record he still held at the time of his death. He already held FA Cup and League Championship honours, having played, with Denis, in Arsenal's triumphant team at Wembley in 1950 (Arsenal 2, Liverpool 0) and in the League-winning side of 1947-48, when Les and Denis created a fraternal record: playing in a County Championship-winning side in the summer and in the national champion football team in the following winter.
Les Compton was succeeded as Middlesex wicketkeeper by John Murray, but he later excelled at bowls. He ran a pub on Highgate Hill, but his health had deteriorated in recent years, and in 1982 he had to have his right foot amputated. A quiet, reserved, genial man, he was widely respected for his sportsmanship.
Wisden Almanack 1985
Batting & Fielding