Dessert Warrior

A PJ yesterday

As the skies brighten and the light lengthens, thoughts come to the new season and what promises to be a sensational one at GCC. However, whilst we dream of uprooting stumps and glorious cover drives one man’s work has already begun. PJ ‘Ol Boy’ Irvine has been seeding, loaming, rain dancing and charming life into the Gardiner square for many years as the club groundsman. Upswinger has taken some of his time to find out more about the man, the job and the history.

PJ is found spraying what appears to be powder to the square: “This ere is my magic mixture” he explains, “Been putting this down ere since 1974 ol boy!” He informs me that each groundsman has his own magic mixture and PJ’s has been handed down to him; ¼ conker shavings, ¼ powdered heron droppings and ½ butterscotch angel delight powder. This brings life to the square and the surrounding conker trees and ensures the herons visit regularly, both beautiful features of the Gardiner Rec. When asked about the angel delight he explains that in 1894 his great great grandfather, TJ Ol Boy Irvine, experimented with the equivalent of Dream Topping and it produced great results. He added that in those days tea was taken actually on the square as the weight of people acted as a kind of roller. However, one day Arthur ‘Chippy’ Haines, local carpenter and straight drive specialist caused a problem; It seems he wasn’t partial to hot beverages and just had milk in a ‘juggard’ which was an old fashioned two pint tankard. Chippy spilt his milk on the track which reacted with the Dream Topping causing a kind of moussey surface on a length. From then on tea was taken in the pavilion and it also started the universal expression for a track being a ‘bit of a pudding’.

PJ delighted with more tales as he toiled away at his trade. He produced a small briefcase next with individually housed and named seeds for each bowling member of the club. “I scatter these on a length ol boy, so that the bowlers delivery is attracted to their seed and they maintain that length see. Sometimes I has a laugh and might put Tom Hedge’s shorter or Ferry’s at more half volley / full bunger and only I knows why they bowl it there, but I mean no harm. But Graham Lunt and Pete Slade, always at that perfect length.”

PJ puts a great amount of time and effort into the ground and GCC are very happy and lucky to have him. So next time you see him watching from the boundary on his bike, give him a cheery wave and thank him for all his hard work, he selflessness asks for nothing else. And if you’re bowling and can’t get your length right look for a little knowing grin on his face, because it might just be there….


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