It's always difficult to summarise a player so soon after they have left us. I think you can reflect on a player with rose tinted glasses and get misty eyed about ambient summers past, but Pete Allen was simply the best amateur wicket keeper I ever played with and in the top two I'd either played with, or against.
When I first came to Bury CC almost 35 years ago, he was the first person to welcome me at winter nets, but it wasn't until the summer that I realised the standards he set. In the modern age, he was an old fashioned glove man. He just did his job behind the sticks with the minimum of fuss and like all talented players, made the hard stuff look routine.
His batting was no great shakes but he held his place on the purity of his glove work. If there was any discussion about someone else who might keep and score more runs, the bowlers would chip in with the value of that low one-handed catch or a leg side stumping that was worth more than a tidy 20 with the bat. It was always a seismic shock when a chance slipped from his grasp and his work up to the stumps off the quicks caught out many an opening bat taking liberties with their footwork at the crease.
As most keepers, he was the constant voice to drive the team and could pass comment with the best of them, but this was not abuse just a sly poke or dig at a failing in someone's technique or a caustic remark, just to keep the batsmen on their toes. The difference was it was never personal and he still could say 'good shot' to the batter if he unfurled something that was easy on the eye and maintained that ethos of the game. I can recall that he always made a point of having a beer with the opposition after the game, something that appears to have drifted from the game, but opposition became friends rather than someone you just played against twice a year.
His passing the day of his 60th birthday leaves a void that will be as hard to fill as his gloves were when he decided his knees had enough and he needed to try somewhere else. As all good wicketkeepers, he was the heartbeat of the fielding side and now that heart is finally still he can sit back and watch from above, when the sun is always warm on your back and the beer is always cold.
RIP Pete Allen
Paul Morris (Bury CC)