3 2004 Cricket Groundsman of the Year awards

2004 Cricket Groundsman of the Year Awards

By David Saltman and Cricket World

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During 2004 Cricket World and Pitchcare invited private Clubs, Schools/Colleges and Local Authorities to send in their nominations for Groundsmen who perform far beyond the call of duty.

This is the second year of the Awards and the number of nominations sent in was nearly double the number received in the inaugural year.

The judges Laurence Gale and David Saltman were delighted with the quality of candidates. Every ground had its own uniqueness and stories of dedication and commitment were plentiful.

While the judges felt that it would be unfair to single out any one Groundsman for praise there were a number of points that were worthy of mention. Many of the sites visited, even in the depths of winter, were in pristine condition and tool/machine sheds immaculate. The depth of knowledge and experience on offer from the candidates was highly commendable.

It was more normal than not for the Groundsmen to have qualifications for cricket Groundsmanship, spraying qualifications and, of course, many years of devoted love spent on producing a top class-playing surface for their public.

Many of the Groundsmen had, voluntarily in some cases, helped build new wickets and/or entire squares and organised andmarchdiary2005Oakham-cricke.jpg

Where many facilities work to very tight budgets, it was not uncommon for the Groundsman to supplement the cost of needed items out of their own pocket.

The volunteers regularly give up 25 hours plus a week to the club free of charge.

Those employed remain equally dedicated to the production of fine wickets and outfield facilities.

The judging has been as hard as it could be, and all the nominees should be delighted with their efforts.

The main judging criteria are based around the Groundsman's knowledge, experience and skill level. While a visual inspection of the square and outfield are performed, this is not rated highly in the marking. Marks are also awarded for the amount of games played, the work undertaken, the cleanliness of the machinery and equipment sheds, the budgetary awareness that the Groundsman has and the personal knowledge of new machinery and products available to him.

It is hoped that even more Groundsmen will be put forward for the Awards in 2005, so that their hard work and dedication can also be rewarded.

The three category winners will all be enjoying a trip to Lords Cricket Ground, in April, for their presentations.

Groundsmanship can, at the best of times, be a thankless task. All too often, the vigilant work undertaken is berated by the players, particularly when things aren't going their own way.

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Groundsmanship tends to be an isolated but enjoyable affair, working in conjunction with nature. It can be time consuming to say the least, and therefore it isn't a profession that lends itself to regular meetings of like-minded individuals, where back slapping and general adorning praise can be heaped and shared.

Within the top class professional circuit, Groundsmen can look forward to annual awards in recognition for their services, a small payback for work rendered, but on the levels below the first class grounds, there has been scant recognition for all those punishing and diligent hours spent nursing the square.

In 2003 Cricket World and Pitchcare.com put in place an awards system aimed at recognising the hard work and levels achieved by amateurs and professionals alike.

The inaugural awards, categorised into three sections (education, private clubs and local authority) brought a final nine entries.

Certainly the Groundsmen met when doing the final judging were exuberant and enthusiastic, just genuine people who enjoy their vocation and role as the Groundsman, preparing excellent facilities for the enjoyment of all.

During the visits, the main question, asked of me, was on what criteria are the awards judged.

A good question, which requires some explanation. One of the greatest facets of the profession is that no two grounds are the same. Each playing surface has its own peculiarities and ,of course, the weather can be so variable, so much so that Groundsmen, working only a few miles apart, can be undertaking very different jobs to prepare their respective surfaces.

The Awards marking was based on a series of questions, which are outlined below. In this year's 2004 finals, competition has been fierce and the fact that the judges visited 20 plus sites, from Belfast to Jersey showed that more clubs are willing to forward their Groundsmen for recognition. Again this year, competition has been very good, grounds often separated in the final marks by only a point or two.

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Judging Criteria

1) How much usage does the playing surface receive during the season and is there joint sport on the outfield?

2) Is the job, full or part time occupation, how much time is spent (weekly) at the facility? What is the scope of duties, away from preparing the cricket ground?

3) How much funding is made available for materials, machinery and renovation works, and how does the Groundsman acquire this funding?

4) What range of machinery is available and how does the Groundsman's knowledge help to best utilise this equipment?

5) What relationship does the Groundsman enjoy with his employees?

6) What is the general condition of the site, workshops and sheds?

7) What experience, both work based and educational, has the Groundsman received?

8) What additional resources in terms of staff, materials and machinery is the Groundsman able to obtain?

9) What awareness has the Groundsman on the choice of products, machinery and materials that are available in the market place and what materials are used and stored on site?

10) Is the Groundsman up to date with H&S legislation, are they qualified for chemical application?

The Cricket Groundsman of the Year Awards will run again this year, 2005, and entries are being promoted now, via the websites at www.pitchcare.com and www.cricketworld.com. It is expected that the Awards will grow from strength to strength, year on year, further raising the profile of Cricket Groundsmen but also increasing the quality of the playing surface and therefore the sport at all levels.

Winners and Final Judging List for the 2004 Awards

Private Clubs

1st Chris Westbrook- Hursley Park CC

2nd Michael Carruthers- Bromley CC

3rd Dave Fouracre- Exmouth CC

Community Award - Ireland

William Radcliff and Noël McCraey - Saintfield CC Belfast Ireland

Commended:-

Graham Newell- Elmswell CC

Dineash Odedera- Bharat Sports CC

Nigel Salmon- Woodall Spa CC

Paul Emmanuel- Ripley CC

Neil Lambourne- Aston Rowant CC

Gerry Candy- Burridge CC

Gareth Jenkins- Abergavenny CC

Educational establishments

1st Keith Exton- Oakham School

2nd Mike Kettle- Repton School

3rd Matt Pullen- Whitgift School

Commended:- Owen de Gruchy- Victoria College

Local Authority

1st Ian le Marquand- FB Playing Fields States of Jersey LA

2nd Ian Vautier- Granville Sports Ground States of Jersey LA

3rd Wayne Lumbard- Shrewsbury and Atcham LA

Cricket Judging Remarks

Facility Remarks
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Chris Westbrook Hursely Park CC

Chris Westbrook has been Head Groundsman since 1974, a voluntary role, Very good technical knowledge, Intermediate diploma certificate IOG, current ECB advisor for Hampshire. He has implemented many developments at the club, training up club members (who have gone on to work in the turf grass industry). Overseen the building of additional cricket squares and enlarging the outfields, He has been very resourceful in building their own site screens and covers, installing their own outfield drainage, building and erecting all the storage shed and outbuildings and regularly work 30 hrs plus each week at the club. Well over 80 plus games

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Mike Carruthers Bromley CC

Mike as served the club with distinction for well over 33 years, manages cricket and tennis facilities at the ground. Outfield used for hockey and football. The ground was very tidy and well presented; Machinery was very well maintained the shed very organised and tidy. Tech knowledge was very good, made good use of resources. Well over 80 plus games

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Dave Fouracre Exmouth CC

Dave maintains a very large square (19 wickets), and large outfield. The facility is well presented. His knowledge of cricket and technical turf knowledge is very good, a very practical person. The club host many games including county games and touring matches. Well over 80 plus games.

Schools

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Keith Exton Oakham School

The turf facilities at this school are exceptional, 5 squares, 9 rugby, 5 football 4 hockey, 2 lacrosse and many other small sided games areas. The presentation of these facilities is excellent. Keith's technical and practical skills are very good. Has overseen many projects that have saved the school many thousands of pounds. The amount of work achieved with such a small staff is staggering. Looking after 48 acres of sports fields. The school caters for 1500 pupils. Keith is very proactive in managing budgets and resources.

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Mike Kettle Repton School

Mike was a former professional cricketer, but now manages all the cricket and sporting facilities at Repton school. The quality and presentation of the cricket facilities is very good, especially having limited resources.( money and staff). Mike oversees work on 5 cricket squares, 8 football and 2 rugby pitches. Providing facilities for 750 pupils

The school has gained a fine reputation for cricket with Derby County sides playing and wanting to use the facility.

Matt Pullen Whitgift School

Matt is responsible for maintaining the cricket facilities at Whitgift school, the main square is very well presented and provides well over 70 games per year. The school has very good equipment and is well managed.

Local Authority

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Ian le Marquand

Ian tends the FB Playing Fields on the States of Jersey. He is now solely looking after the football, hockey, cricket pitches as well as an outdoor athletic facility. There was once five full time staff, now Ian and a seasonal extra look after everything. He has exceptional knowledge and is extremely diligent considering he is working for Local Authority.
Ian Vautier Ian looks after the Granville playing fields again for States of Jersey LA. The cricket square is the premier square on the island and hosts many of the overseas tourist games, including 1st Class Teams from the mainland UK. Ian has good knowledge, experience and follows in the same ethos of all the States of Jersey LA employees, it is a pleasure to provide the quality standards for all recreational users.
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Wayne Lumbard

Shrewsbury & Atcham Council Wayne produces very high standards. The presentation of the square and outfield is excellent. Wayne makes good use of limited resources. His technical knowledge is excellent, The standards are well above most other LA's Wayne certainly provide best value for the council.

Saintfield CC Belfast Ireland (Special Community Award)

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William Radcliff and Noël Mc Craey - Saintfield CC

The club relayed 4 wickets themselves in 1997 and another 4 in 1998. In 1999 the club, like many other clubs, were finding it hard to make ends meet. Only two senior teams used the facility and any youngsters, were brought up and coached there, before moving on to other more established clubs.

The club made a decision to encourage more youngsters to play and approached the local school. After some negotiation the Head Master agreed for the club to do some after school cricket coaching. At the same time, the club made a bold move and appointed an overseas player. The school coaching has expanded each year, where more schools have

become involved in the scheme and the coaching has now been allowed into the sporting curriculum at some of them.

The club are now on their second or third overseas player and have around 90 colts playing at the club. They also ran a very succesful summer school last year, offering parents the opportunity to give their kids three hours of cricket fun each week for the eight week

summer holiday. All this for the princely sum of £10.

The club feel that this has helped them through a tenuous period and established the clubs' future survival in the area.

Commended
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Neil lambourne of Aston Rowant CC

Neil Lambourne of Aston Rowant CC took over from his father Peter as groundsman four years ago, covering a period of twenty nine years as groundsman between them. Neil and his father Peter who passes away a year ago, have captained the first eleven teams, with the Lambourne family representing the whole team at various times.

Aston Rowant CC were promoted to the Home Counties League in 2004 and won the best ground marks from the umpires and captains of the league. The Ground is also been used by Oxfordshireshire CCC.

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Paul Emmanuel Ripley CC

Paul Emmanuel is a very keen groundsman.He came over from Australia and played cricket for Ripley. He became interested in maintaining the square some 6 years ago fell in love with a local girl and has stayed ever since!

Paul went to Askham Bryan college and studied greenkeeping and now works full time at Harrogate Golf club. He spends all his spare time maintaining the facilities at Ripley CC. He has the knack of acquiring good equipment for the club and has in the six years improved the playing quality of the surface.

Thank You To The Sponsors of the 2004 Cricket Groundsman of the Year Awards

Cricket World and Pitchcare.com would like to thank all our sponsors for supporting these awards. These awards have been designed to raise the profile of the Groundsman and are also in recognition of their hard work and dedication on behalf of their clubs.

Company Web Address Telephone
John Deere www.johndeere.co.uk 01949 860491
Lloyds of Letchworth www.lloydsandco.com 01462 683031
Ransomes www.ransomesjacobsen.com +44 (0) 1473 270000

Sisis Equipment (Macclesfield)

www.sisis.com 01625 503030
Groundsman Industries www.groundsmansindustries.co.uk
Synergy Products www.synergyproducts.ltd.uk 01380 828337
C.H. Binder www.binderloams.co.uk 01277 890246
Goundrey's alan.ford@munrogoundey.co.uk 0870 242 1090
Flicx UK www.flicx.com 07900 883630
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