Tuesday, 19 November 2019

Turf luck as cricket club groundsman wins award

Turf luck as cricket club groundsman wins award

THE head groundsman at Wargrave Cricket Club has won a national award.

Martin Woods, who has been working at the recreation ground for 28 years, received the Cricket World and Turf Matters Groundcare Award for 2019.

He was one of 11 winners to be invited to a prize-giving ceremony at Lord’s.

There were more than 100 nominations and the winners were selected in categories for clubs, schools and organisations.

Mr Woods, 57, who lives in Recreation Road and has been a member of the cricket club since he was 13, has recently overseen the creation of a second square on Kings Field.

He said: “We have an awful lot of games here for such a small square, which is why the second square is being put in.

“As a job, there is so much to do but I just enjoy it. This is not a nine-to-five job and it is very weather- dependent. Over the summer I probably put in 60 hours or more every week. It is impossible to compare it to the average job.

“It is nice to win something because you feel like you are doing your job well. It is something to be cherished.”

The awards were introduced to recognise the dedication and hard work of individuals who do outstanding work to prepare and maintain cricket squares and outfields across the country.

Mr Woods was nominated by his friend and fellow club member James Moss.

He then received a visit from Alastair Symondson, who is the head of media at Cricket World, who inspected the club’s facilities.

The awards ceremony was held in the Tavern Stand at Lord’s and was attended by Chris Wood, the England and Wales Cricket Board’s pitch advisor, as well as representatives from both Cricket World and Turf Matters.

Mr Woods attended with his eldest son Alex, 27, who has followed in his father’s footsteps and has been a member of the ground staff at Worcestershire County Cricket Club for the last 18 months.

The pair had dinner with the other winners and were due to watch Middlesex play Derbyshire in a County Championship match but it rained for most of the day.

Guests were given a tour of the ground, including the historic Long Room, and they met Karl McDermott, who is the head groundsman at Lord’s.

Mr Woods previously lived in Ruscombe and worked as a fitter for the Reading Carpet Company.

He decided to move to Wargrave with his wife Michelle, who is head of catering at the Robert Piggott Junior School, when the parish council was looking for a new groundsman. He said: “I started doing ground staff duties in 1981. When I first started, the facilities were not brilliant. It took a few years to get it up to a better standard. It needed a bit more love and care.

“You have to know your square — all of them are different. People think they are the same, but they’re not. They all have their own characteristics.

“You have to know when to water them, when to roll them and how much grass to take off. You can’t switch off and see it as a nine to five job.

“I do enjoy getting respect from all the youngsters.”

Both of Mr Woods’s sons played for Wargrave as juniors and his youngest son, Euan, 21, is now a member of the Henley first team.

He has represented England at under-19 level and scored 184 for Berkshire when they beat Dorset at the recreation ground during a three-day match in September.

Mr Woods said Euan still hoped to be picked up by a county side, having been part of the set-ups at Surrey, Hampshire and Middlesex.

He said: “He started playing when he was only six in an under-11s match and we could see he was a little bit different to the other lads.

“He went to his first Berkshire trial when he was in the under-nines and he was immediately selected.

“He has always performed on and off the field and that is the case for both of my boys. They are brilliant.

“We have tried to bring them up in the right way and I think cricket has helped that. It is a very social game and you have to work as a team and listen to other people.”

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