Les Surman – Head Groundsman

The Keeper of the Turf
A Sermon in Stone might, with due apology to Shakespeare, be an apt description of the Head Groundsman refusing to allow play to begin on one of his excellent wickets until he reckons it’s dry enough. For Les Surman, who ever since the sad death of Dick Marshall, has been in charge of our playing fields and equipment, defends them with uncompromising determination against wilful damage or misuse.

A lost ball—cricket, hockey, football or rugger—rouses him. He mourns the loss of the ball, but he also thirsts for the blood of whoever was responsible for losing it.
groundsmen-standard triumph
Mr Surman (Centre), with his two assistants, Reg Pratt (Left) and Cecil Underhill (Right)
In all weathers at all times of the year, he can be seen with his two assistants, Reg Pratt and Cecil Underhill, labouring lovingly on the 15 acres under his care. Sometimes you can see them on hot summer days riding somnolently round and round on the tractor, mowing the outfields for the next Saturday’s game. Perhaps from the inside of a stuffy machine shop you have envied them. Stop to think though, that in the last fall of snow and sleet, they were also at work tending the bowling green and marking out the football pitches. And when the grounds are ready and the teams have arrived the groundstaff’s work still goes on.
A nail pressing through a football boot, a bat suddenly split—”see the groundsman, he’ll fix you up”, and he does. Besides all that, he brews your tea and cleans up after you. So think of the groundsman when you’ve finished your game, whatever it may be, because they make it possible for you to enjoy it.
ARCHIVE: March, 1958

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