Cambridge University college groundsman Melvyn Langford retires after 50 years.

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Melvyn Langford

He won't miss the helicopters landing on his perfectly-manicured grounds - or the student who dared defy his orders not to play on a flooded pitch.

But Melvyn Langford, the head groundsman at Downing College, was sorry to say goodbye to his trade after half a century helping tens of thousands of Cambridge students and locals enjoy sport.

One of the last of the old guard of groundsmen trained at Cambridge University's Fenner's Cricket Ground, Melvyn is retiring after 15 years there and 35 at Downing.

The 65-year-old, who was given a retirement party by the college on his birthday yesterday, said: "At the moment it hasn't sunk in, I think in the next few weeks it will.

"I'll have to get used to not getting up early and having free weekends because I have always had to work on weekends.

"I should find things to do. I love my fishing and shooting - and I've already been given plenty of housework."

Asked why he had never wanted to do anything else, the former Coleridge schoolboy said: "I love the job, getting the pitches ready, seeing people enjoy them and being out in the fresh air."

He said he liked having the students around, although it was sometimes an uneasy relationship.

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