Haydock Park groundsman Maurice retires after 49 years

Simon Mulliganin People

For nearly 50 years he has been an unsung hero of Haydock Park racecourse making sure the course is fit for purpose for meetings.

Maurice Crooks, head groundsman who grew up a stone's throw away from the racecourse on Warrington Road in Ashton-in-Makerfield, has retired after giving 49 years' service to the racecourse.

Haydock stalwart Maurice featured in the Star in 2017 after he scooped the Lifetime Achievement Award in the RCA Groundstaff Awards.

Maurice and his team ensure the course is fit for racing and he also has the weighty responsibility for the safety and upkeep of the venue, which is one of the largest racecourses in the country.

Maurice began his career in 1971 as a fence builder and then became a tractor driver.

He worked his way up through the ranks, becoming assistant head groundsman in 1980 assuming the role of head groundsman in 1995

Reflecting on some of his fondest memories over the years, Maurice said: "At Haydock Park there are so many but Kauto Star's Betfair Chase wins were special - his third victory in 2011 was extraordinary, I've never heard a crowd roar at Haydock Park like it did that day

"At Aintree, I was lucky enough to work every Grand National since 1973.

"My favourite memory was seeing Red Rum's first victory but all of them are very special moments, including the two second places for Red Rum in 1975 and 1976

"Another favourite was when me and my wife Pam's favourite ever singer, Rick Astley asked us to perform on stage with him at Haydock Park in 2014!

Maurice added: "My wife, Pam and I have a place in Ireland so we plan to move over there when we're able.

"We were all packed up and ready to go until we went into lockdown!"

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