Jamie is Sussex League's top groundsman

Jamie Ramsden is keen to acknowledge the help of others after winning the Sussex Cricket League Groundsman of the Year award.
Trevor Ramsden, Jamie Ramsden, Terry Daniels and Ray Hacker - grounds team of the year in the Sussex Cricket LeagueTrevor Ramsden, Jamie Ramsden, Terry Daniels and Ray Hacker - grounds team of the year in the Sussex Cricket League
Trevor Ramsden, Jamie Ramsden, Terry Daniels and Ray Hacker - grounds team of the year in the Sussex Cricket League

The Eastbourne CC groundsman claimed the accolade for the 2021 season, having consistently prepared The Saffrons to a very high standard throughout the summer.

Jamie received the prize, sponsored by Rigby Taylor, from former Yorkshire and England bowler Matthew Hoggard at the Sussex Cricket League dinner.

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He said: “It’s a good achievement and I’m really proud that I’ve won it. But by the same token there’s a huge amount of time and effort that goes in by the volunteers.

Jamie Ramsden with his trophyJamie Ramsden with his trophy
Jamie Ramsden with his trophy

“The weather has been so bad this year, but they’ve been out there in all weathers.

“The effort by the players, especially on a Saturday, has been really good as well. They always come out and help remove the (rain) water on Saturdays, and even come down on Friday nights to help put more sheets out.

“The first team captain, Jacob Smith, and second team captain, Jon Purdey, always get in contact and ask if you need extra help.”

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The award is determined by marks awarded by umpires for the quality of the outfield and pitch at the league’s leading 60 teams.

Eastbourne seconds were the clear winners with an overall score of 18.42 (outfield 18.89, pitch 17.94). Littlehampton were second with 17.83, Horsham third with 17.81.

Eastbourne firsts, whose home programme was significantly impacted by the weather during an exceptionally wet summer, were sixth with 17.38.

Jamie added: “I was surprised when I found out (about the award). It wasn’t ideal preparation this spring because we went from being very cold and dry to very wet. Nothing gelled properly this summer because of the weather conditions.”

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It’s the first time the award hasn’t gone to either Preston Nomads or Horsham since 2012, and Jamie is the first winner from a club in East Sussex since his old mentor, Mark Foster (Hastings Priory), took the prize in 2003.

Jamie worked under Mark at Horntye Park Sports Complex in Hastings as a teenage apprentice from 2006-2009, during which time he also won a prize for being the top student in horticultural sports turf at Plumpton College in 2006-07.

He was groundsman at Eastbourne CC from 2010-2019 and his hard work to improve the condition of the ground was rewarded with the return of Sussex Cricket for one-day matches in 2018 and 2019 following an absence of many years.

In the latter fixture, Jamie was awarded a rating of six out of six for the quality of the pitch by an ECB assessor - an achievement he still regards as his proudest moment.

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After subsequently taking up a post elsewhere for a brief period, the 31-year-old returned to The Saffrons this January and Eastbourne CC are glad to have him back.

Vice-chairman Roger Myall said: “The quality of the pitches is borne out by his award. He’s so enthusiastic, puts the extra effort in and we’re proud of what he’s done.”

Jamie’s involvement in preparing sports pitches dates right back to his school days. His dad, Trevor, was groundsman at the old Sidley Sports Club and Jamie had a Saturday job there from the age of 14, receiving ‘a can of drink and a roll from behind the bar as payment’.

He added: “I’ve always loved being outdoors. I suppose I was lucky in a sense because dad did the job and in the school holidays I was always down there trying to get involved. It’s a perfect job for me because I love sport and I love machinery.

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“The Saffrons is a multi-sport site and I get just as much joy out of seeing the football pitch sparkle as I do the cricket.

“You’re always thinking ‘it looks good this week, let’s see if we can get it better next week’.”

Away from the day job, Bexhill-based Jamie is also a long-serving player and committee member at Sidley Cricket Club.

He has been the driving force behind Sidley successfully reintroducing a junior section and works tirelessly to try to secure a new ground for the club in its local community.

Just last week he collected a Young People’s Award on behalf of the club at Rother Voluntary Action’s first-ever Volunteer Award ceremony.