Welcome to part two of this interview.
In part one, which was published on Christmas Eve, we found out how former Club Captains Roy Kerslake, Mike Burns, Ian Blackwell and Marcus Trescothick plus former player and coach Peter Robinson and Club legend Andy Caddick coped with the lack of cricket in the close-season.
In the second part we asked them how they used to pass the time in the winter months:
Peter Robinson: “I used to work on the goods shed for British Rail, unloading the wagons at 5:30 in the morning. Ken Palmer used to valet cars whilst his brother did a bit of panel beating. Brian Langford was a car salesman. Roy Virgin worked at County Hall and we all had to find jobs because you were left on your own really.”
Roy Kerslake: “I actually had a job and they effectively gave me the summer off to play for Somerset. It was good PR for them to have a Somerset cricketer on their staff. I used to get in to the office early in the morning with my secretary, deal with the previous days post, dictate again and then they used to bring it down to the ground for me to sign during the tea interval because the office was just up the road in Hammett Street. I’m not sure any firm would entertain that today! I made a contact there whilst I was playing cricket and I ended up staying there until I retired. It gelled quite well in those days because the pace of work was nowhere near as frantic as it is today, so it was possible to combine the two without letting your clients or teammates down. Looking long term, work had to come first and in the end I had to make a choice between the firm and cricket. In the end it had to be the firm because at that stage there was very little money in cricket. I wasn’t sure how good I was going to be and when the firm said they couldn’t give me any more time off, I didn’t really have a choice.”
Marcus Trescothick: “I’ve done various bits around the ground during the winter. One year I had a go on the diggers when we were demolishing the area that is now the Somerset Stand. In the reasonably early days Jason Kerr and I did quite a bit of maintenance work to help earn a bit of extra money to keep us going. I remember that we painted all the walls down by the old scoreboard and the Colin Atkinson Pavilion but it turned out that the ground staff had given us the wrong paint. When it rained we discovered that the paint we’d been given wasn’t waterproof so it ended up all over the carpark! There was also another winter when I spent three or four weeks helping the ground staff re-lay certain parts of the outfield. It was nice to be able to be an extra pair of hands. I think it gives you an extra passion for what you do. We care for what the Club is all about. It’s not just about playing cricket. To be able to say that you’ve done this or helped build that gives you an extra bit of feeling about the place. I quite enjoy that sort of thing. Peter Anderson was the Chief Executive at the time and he got all the youngsters doing bits and pieces if they needed something to do over the course of the winter.”
Andy Caddick: “When I first came over and was qualifying I had to spend a certain amount of time in the UK, so in my first few winters at Somerset I was painting fences, redecorating the Old Pavilion, refurbishing the Colin Atkinson Pavilion when it was the old committee room plus all sorts of handyman stuff around the ground. Due to the fact that I was qualifying and there wasn’t much to do in the winter, Peter Anderson employed me as a maintenance man on the ground staff. There was a lot of painting and mending things and coming from a building background it was something I found quite easy to do. I was lucky. I came from a building background and was able to carry that on when I first came to the UK. I think it’s really important to have a skill and for me cricket was a bonus.”
Mike Burns: “Having a wife and child meant that I couldn’t really go away for the winter and that meant that I was able to offer my skill and talents to the people in the Commercial Office! It was great fun and we had a laugh. It was nice to mingle with the Members and at that stage I needed some money coming in over the winter. You got to know some of the supporters a bit better and got to talk to them and hopefully that meant that they wouldn’t give you quite so much of a hard time if you had a bad trot during the summer! There was a good bunch in the office and I think Blackie stole my idea because after I finished in there he went in for a winter. I don’t think there would have been room for the two of us. I think I did that for three years. The first winter that I came down I worked on the construction of the Ian Botham Stand and did a bit of labouring. I went to Peter Anderson and asked him if there was any chance of some work in the winter and he mentioned that the Club were building a new stand so I thought “why not?” I’m happy to turn my hand to most things and I used to work in a ship yard, so that type of work wasn’t something new. I think that I did my back in during that first winter after about three weeks and ended up on sick pay! I think it was good to meet new people and try different things so that you weren’t just stuck in cricket the whole time. You needed to see how the real world works.”
Ian Blackwell: “As Mike says, I did have one winter where I worked in the Club Office helping with Membership renewals, answering ‘phones and generally getting in the way. I think it was probably the bane of the staff’s life having me working in there for six months but it helped to pass the time! It was certainly a different experience and it was a bit of a shock to the system waking up at 7 in the morning to be in the office for 8! It made me appreciate what goes on behind the scenes. I think the Members were quite surprised to see me in the office. As a player you do your bit on the pitch and you take the day to day running of the Club for granted really. Working with the Commercial and Catering departments makes you realise that it really is like a family. I did that for one winter and for a few years from 2002 I was on tour with England so those winters took care of themselves. Those were interesting times and it was great to represent your country.”
The third and final part of this interview will be published on December 30th.