Sarah Addison’s appointment as an assistant groundsperson at Worcestershire CCC came as no surprise to everyone who knows her, as Will Collins reveals.
“Ever since my schooldays, I’ve known that groundscare would be the career for me – and I told everybody so,” says the 23-year-old. And as a keen sportswomen, with a particular bent towards cricket, she affirms that working at Worcester is “a dream come true”.
Her leaning towards the grounds care profession started during her schooldays when she spent as much time “helping out” with grounds maintenance tasks while awaiting the start of matches as she did playing at her local cricket club and playing Country cricket for Cheshire.
“Helping to sawdust the wickets and remove water from the covers, for example, really sowed the seed for my future,” she reflects. “But I also knew that I wanted to gain as much qualification as possible, so I went straight from school to Myerscough College, Preston, for a one-year First Diploma course. “I enjoyed that so much that I immediately signed up for the two-year National Diploma - then I went straight into the college’s university three-year Foundation Degree.”
She joined Worcestershire CCC in June with a FdSc in Sportsturf Management. A series of work placements at Southport Football Club (one day a week) and Worcestershire CCC (six months) for the First and National Diplomas, as well as at, for instance, the Royal Birkdale, for the Weetabix Women’s Championships, reinforced her desire for a career in grounds care. And during the Foundation Degree she helped out at her local cricket club – Southport’s New Victoria.
Admittedly, she says, the FdSc curriculum was understandably biased towards the theory and science of sports turf management – and Sarah complemented the course emphasis on golf and football with her own research into cricket pitch construction, management and maintenance.
“It was during my National Diploma work placement that Worcestershire CCC initially offered me a job, but I made it clear that I wanted to go for a FdSc and, fortunately, the job was still open when I graduated.” While her completion of the Foundation Degree now allows access to the final year of the Honours Degree programme, Sarah says any such further education is currently on hold while she gets to grips with the job at the historic New Road ground.
With an extensive catalogue of work experience, and formerly having also played a lot of men’s cricket, Sarah was, she says, “well prepared” for joining a team of groundsmen at Worcestershire. “I’ve heard all the banter and I’d like to think I can give as good as I get!”
With 18 wickets and a separate net area, the New Road ground has been the home of Worcestershire CCC since 1899. Close to the River Severn, the ground was badly affected by the floods of 2007, which last year prompted the installation of a new drainage system.
Today, two months into the job, Sarah says there have been no surprises, with July and September undoubtedly being the busiest months in terms of fixtures - four one-day games each month plus NatWest Pro40 evening tournaments. Also, like other grounds, Worcestershire CCC has had to improve its commerciality in order to remain competitive, and New Road is an increasingly popular venue for rock and pop concerts, for instance.
“I knew what to expect, having been here before on work placement,” she adds. “I’ve joined a great bunch of guys and we work as a team to get things done when they need doing. Being a keen cricketer has also helped me tremendously in ‘understanding’ the rewards of a high-class maintenance regime.
“The classroom-based theory is obviously essential, but nothing beats being able to get to deal at first hand with the practicalities of grounds care. As a cricket fan, I’m working at one of the best places I could wish for – and I’ve joined the local women’s cricket club, so I also get to continue to participate in the sport I love!”