Umpiring legend Dickie Bird tells of regret at never having family on 90th birthday

Cricket legend Dickie Bird has spoken of his regret at never having married or had children as he celebrates his 90th birthday.

The former umpire was treated to a reception at Headingley cricket ground – the home of Yorkshire County Cricket Club – as he marked the occasion on Wednesday.

Bird was surrounded by celebrities from the worlds of sport and broadcasting, including Sir Sir Michael Parkinson and Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, for a meal.

But speaking ahead of the event, he told ITV News he had made sacrifices because of his commitment to the game.

"I regret that I didn't marry and have a family. That is my one regret," he said.

"I think I'd have made a good father and if the lad had played cricket, played for Yorkshire, it would have made my life.

"I gave everything of my life to cricket."

Bird had a relatively brief playing career.

Born Harold Dennis Bird in Barnsley, Bird enjoyed a modest playing career for Yorkshire and Leicestershire before hanging up his pads in 1965 at 32.

Eight years later he umpired his first international match on his way to becoming internationally recognised as one of the best in the business.

Recalling that day, he said: "I was here before the grounds staff. It only seems like yesterday."

In total, Bird umpired 66 international test matches and 69 one-day games, standing in the middle for his last fixture in 1996. He retired from the county game two years later.

Officiating in an era when those in the middle couldn't rely on technology, Bird said he would have relished the opportunity to take advantage of the help offered to modern day umpires.

"I would, because you've nothing to do," he said. "They don't look for no balls or running on the wicket... yeah I'd love it."

Bird was presented with a cricket-themed cake for his birthday, which he showed off to cheering fans sat in the Kirkstall Lane End where the players' balcony bears his name.

Dickie Bird was presented with a cricket-themed cake for his 90th birthday. Credit: ITV News

"I enjoy coming to watch and I'll always come here as long as I can," he said.

Sir Michael, who made the journey north despite a recent spell in hospital, said Bird was "the soul of cricket and an extraordinary human being".

"I'm proud to be his friend," he said.

Baroness Grey-Thompson said: "He's an incredible man, kind and thoughtful. He typifies everything that we want from sport."

Fellow Yorkshire cricketer Geoff Cope said: "Dickie is one of those people who seems to have been here forever."

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