Brian Firmin retires as Halstead Cricket Club Groundsman after 32 years
For the past 32 years, Brian Firmin has been preparing pitches at the club’s Star Stile ground, but in his 87th year has decided that 2018 was his last year as Groundsman.
Generations of Halstead cricketers owe a debt of gratitude to the long-serving former school teacher for helping to provide the excellent facilities on offer at Halstead CC since 1982.
Brian was a pupil at Earls Colne Grammar School before he began his teaching career in 1956, at Percy Jackson Grammar School in Doncaster. Whilst there he contracted tuberculosis and, seriously ill, was sent to Broomfield Hospital and hospitalised for thirteen months.
“I count myself lucky on two fronts: both in recovering from a serious illness; and for the opportunity, that came out of the blue, to teach nearer to home. In 1975 whilst I was recuperating at home in Earls Colne, I went along to the school sports day and the headmaster asked me if I would like to return to my old school as a teacher, which I did for the next sixteen years until the school closed in 1991.”
Retiring Chairman Mark Surridge said ‘fortunately, that was never Brian’s philosophy’. ‘He would never cancel a fixture if he thought there was the remotest possibility of playing the game, and if that sometimes resulted in teams travelling and sitting in the pavilion waiting for the rain to stop, then that was a price worth paying. More often than not, the grounds would dry out and some play would be possible.’
‘I never could play the game, so I knew the only way to get involved was as an Umpire. I had watched Halstead as a boy, then began umpiring for them in the school holidays, beginning in the summer of 1953’
He has affectionate memories of his time at both local schools. ‘The roller we still use at Star Stile and pull by tractor, is the same old roller we had at Earls Colne where we had shafts fitted and it was horse-drawn, and later even pulled it with the school minibus, so determined was I that the three strips I had prepared would be saturated and rolled out flat, and safe to play on.’
While at Earls Colne Brian taught another who is stepping away from Halstead CC this year, Trevor Cooper – the club’s all-time leading wicket-taker, former Club Captain, Chairman, and Treasurer -, then at Ramsey he taught Neale Dakin, Paul Harris, and Richard Hume, and helped shape their early cricketing careers advising them all to join Halstead.
Halstead are fortunate, that Brian has recruited a keen and enthusiastic under-study in Adam Morris, who for the past two seasons has been doing more and more of the heavy-duty work at the ground and is ready and willing to take over Groundsman duties.