Rolling the pitch

Published: 8 February 2013

GRUMPLINGS from BEHIND a PICKET FENCE by H.A.R. Rumph a Groundsman (maybe)

“As little as I can, for as long as I can”.  After umpteen years of working on cricket grounds, this can be my stock answer to those who say, “Well, what do you do during the winter? You’ll be having an easy time?” Well, one has to keep up the persona of the Grumpy Groundsman, doesn’t one?

It is an oddity, is it not, that within cricket clubhouses across the country there’s a plethora of armchair groundsmen just waiting to pounce at any opportunity to give their opinion usually based on their experiences of growing grass in their back gardens or flowers in window boxes. Do you believe that the same people, given that they had once carved the Sunday roast, would advise a surgeon as to how to remove an appendix? RUMPH!

Some club members see nothing changing from week to week across the ground, ergo, we must have fallen asleep under the roller. Of course, all of us grounds people know how much work goes on behind the scenes to prepare for the following season.

It makes no difference at what level the cricket is being played or whether the person looking after the ground is full-time, part-time or voluntary; our season begins as soon as the cricket season ends.

Not for us a few weeks of R&R. No, “ooh let’s go for a wee break somewhere hot”! Somewhere hot to grounds people means lugging tons of loam to the square as part of the renovation programme. The strange thing is that at this ultra important time volunteers from the “body of the Kirk” get swallowed up by the woodwork. I’m sure there’s a Doctor Who script in there or perhaps Sherlock Holmes, having survived the Reichenbach Falls, could investigate the phenomenon.


It’s quite different during the season as cricket pitches appear just like magic! Of course, we NEVER let the secret out, relying on Smoke and Mirrors. It’s the Black Arts you see, just like crop circles.  Where are you Mel Gibson? What about you, Field of Dreams, Kevin Costner? Sniff, sniff. Stop it! Shouldn’t let my guard down!

We, the Grumps, should be members of the Magic Circle, but we’re not because we spend too much time shouting at people. Cricketers, little children, it doesn’t matter! Hence the formation of G.O.G.G.A. The Grumpy Old Groundsman’s and Greenkeepers Association.

The Association’s aim is to alter the attitude of its members. Shouting from the picket fence is no longer the desired method by which to attract the attention of the person who is causing you displeasure.

When a cricketer, for example, decides to venture down to a match pitch with a ball in their hand, the GOGGA educated approach is to quietly comment “You’ll not be down here to bounce that. Are we?”

Subtle with a hint of satire, but nowhere near as satisfying as having a good shouting match! Oh how I miss that. RUMPH!

Membership of GOGGA is completely free, but one must, initially, demonstrate belligerence. Application forms are contained within the Book of Unwritten Rules which, strangely, isn’t available in any bookshop or library. However, whilst in a well-known High Street bookshop, I enquired after the aforementioned tome only to be asked “Who is the author”! …… Bless!

Have to dash now as I need my afternoon, under the roller, nap.

Until the next time – Mr. H.A.R. Rumph. 


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