Founded in 1867, Long Marston Cricket Club is today a thriving member of the Cherwell Cricket League, based around Oxfordshire. Kevin Winfield took over from his eighty-four year-old father as Ground Manager four years ago and the club is in his blood.
There has been a personal family involvement in the club for over a hundred years. Long Marston also has teams in the Chess Valley Sunday league and is an affiliate of the Hertfordshire Cricket Board.
Marlins, the club's home on the outskirts of Tring in Hertfordshire, was bought as allotments in the late 'fifties and developed as a cricket ground to reach minor counties cricket standard, playing two then three day matches from the 'nineties onwards and from 2010 the Unicorns have also used the facility to host ECB Second XI Trophy matches.
Today Long Marston field Saturday First and Second XI's in Cherwell League divisions 2 and 6 respectively, a Third XI was added in 2009 now playing in division 9. Kevin, a member of the Herts Groundsmans' Association, describes the voluntary management and care of the grounds as a 'labour of love'.
Central to the success of any cricket ground is the playing surface and Long Marston is well marked by league umpires, holding a place in the top four to five in the Cherwell league, and is noted for its pace and bounce.
Until recently, playing the important role in the maintenance of the surface was a 36" cylinder mower bought second-hand back in the 'seventies and which last year was showing its age.
A visit to Saltex 2013 brought the decision to invest in a new 36" cylinder mower. Looking for the same quality of cut and finish, and considering that with voluntary labour the club doesn't have the luxury of cutting two or three times a week, Kevin levelled the choice down to just four options.
Consulting with the club's Executive on the finance the decision was to go with an Allett Regal 36" cylinder mower with trailing seat, sourced through local dealers Farol near Thame. Farol's Peter Helps insisted on giving a demonstration, which they managed between showers in January, and the club took delivery with Allett's Sales Director, Leigh Bowers in attendance.
In Kevin's words: "we began with a pre-seasonal cut of the outfield and the square starting at 25mm which we will reduce to 21mm, eventually ending at around a minimum of 15mm.
We're absolutely delighted with the Allett, it's a lovely machine, great to operate and the reverse gear is important, allowing us to empty in the tight space available.
Our team of five or six volunteers will be fighting over it on Fridays when we prepare the ground." You can see the additional appeal with Long Marston's situation on the fringe of the village, enjoying a grandstand view of the Chilterns in the background, while laying a premium cut and stripes with the Allett Regal. And Kevin's dad still pops down to keep an eye on things.
Allett Mowers 01889 271503 www.allett.co.uk