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A New Chapter Six Months In- Brian Sandalls

by TurfCareBlog

A New Chapter Six Months in- Brian Sandalls is a honest account of my first six month into my new role and the anxiety and challenges that l have faced, but also how l am trying to use these new challenges to grow.

Change of Ground

As many of you know l was previously at another club for fifteen years, all part of the Sussex Cricket family but that came to an end in November 2020.I was sad to leave but in the end the job probably was too easy. I was working from within my comfort zone and after winning groundsman of the year on quite a few occasions a move however uncomfortable was probably for the best.

So where was my next move, it was a move that saw me stay with Sussex Cricket and more importantly to me the team of ground staff there, as well as staying with a very supportive club.

Sussex Academy Ground was my new home, l took on two squares a hybrid net area and the site is also used for stoolball and then football in the winter. Machinery was decent though a bit of buying and selling was needed.This brought in a few bits of equipment l thought could really make things work for me and the site.

A bit of buying and selling which ended up with us being in the black budget wise which was a plus. I ‘m sure l will blow this on some other areas though, before l think l getting too smug.

cricket pitch
One of those, will it, wont it days

Early Season

We had a few meetings over the winter with the powers that be and they wanted five grass net wickets for training in late March, we don’t have the resources of a county ground and this is a wet site. We truly were going to aim for this date, but in the back of our minds we thought this was pretty unlikely, how wrong we were.

There seems to be a pattern forming, it tends to rain all Winter and then early/mid-March someone above turns up the heat to the tropical setting, it did and we managed to get the wickets out and that was our first cricket usage under my guidance.

Growing Pains

New site, new people, new unknowns to people like me this is a challenge l am not embarrassed to say l have suffered with anxiety. There is a lot to take in lots of growing pains old habits of behaviours l hope will eventually be leaving me behind.

In all this though those growing pains l hope will help me to grow as a person, my level of awareness of my strengths and weaknesses is at a high and for this to happen in season can only be a good thing.

Habits in any form, take a lot of work to change but like the healthy habit of cleaning your teeth, if you keep it up it sticks, if you start to forget a new pattern starts to form.

A lot of restless nights, but turned out well- Familial feeling for a Groundsman

Perfectionism Blessing or a Curse for a Groundsman!

In all this like most Groundsman l am a perfectionist and what an unhealthy habit this one is, its drive you, you strive towards something but is it ever achievable and if so, how long can we keep it up. As hard as it is we need to be happy with our best and for those who are just like me, that is really a challenge.

Why is it a challenge though, because we know as much it is a weakness, it’s also a strength it keeps us pushing/striving but it’s a hard master and some BALANCE does need to be found.

Harry Kane pre-Euro 2020 interview, what makes you a top player “I am never satisfied” and also Scottish captain Andy Robertson said the same thing.

Sound familiar fellow strivers and drivers!

Strive for continues improvement, instead of perfection – Kim Collins

Into the Season

On the subject of anxiety, when you’re expecting a young academy filled second eleven and the full Sussex and Surrey T20 teams turned up. It started off as a normal second eleven day, until cars appeared not to be parking in the car park but opted for parking on the outfield on our adjoining ground.

By the start of the match, we had 20/30 cars, but not one in the car park and for a very good reason half the balls ended up being hit over the pavilion and into the main car park area.

Again, wasn’t ready for this new challenge, but luckily l did not know they were coming so had no major reason to be anxious. Was the wicket good? yes it was, no worries there and another lesson, it doesn’t matter who turns up.

Just be consistent in pitch prep and maintaining that standard is key as hard as it is. This will keep me in good stead and stop me becoming complacent, but also have to keep an eye on the perfectionist in me.

Sussex vs Surrey

Moving Forward

The next couple of months, July and August are real challenges for me and also for other groundsmen, long hours, barely time to get water in to produce a high turnover of pitches. Teams turning up, that are not on our fixture list, but is on the fixture’s secretaries.

Players and coaches not always being as supportive as we would like, but also us being tired and taking things the wrong way, which only happens when you’re that tired.

Something l have started to do is to try and not too look to far ahead, l like to set myself targets to get to, like my week off, ordering my renovations materials, the start of the tree’s dropping their leaves and finally renovations. Am l wishing away my summer, l hope not but maybe in some small way.

The reason l do this is to try and maintain a perspective, long hours, high pressures (often from self) bad weather can mean a loss in perspective and a break down in relationships, which sometimes occur during the heat of the battle (July/August).

Will l fail, will l get over tired or lose my rag over something silly, maybe but moving forward l hope by increasing my awareness and perspective, l will grow as much as person as l do as a groundsman.

Life is about perspective and how you look at something. Ultimately, you have to zoom out – Whitney Wolfe Herd


Why am l writing this, for one I know l am not alone in my thinking and for me writing is good for my soul and maybe yours, despite being reluctant to share. l can’t really ask others to express themselves in blogs but unwilling to do so myself. Being a Groundsman/Greenkeeper is a challenging profession and going forward with pests, climate issues bringing stress this is only going to increase. However l hope in some small way as a community we can stick together and grow as a community of Groundsmen both personally and professionally.


To do anything great requires time, patience and perseverance- quote taken from this blog earlier this week- https://turfcareblog.com/get-to-know-the-greenkeepercathal-browne/

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dave harrison June 24, 2021 - 5:15 pm

Well done Brian. I was similar in a different work setting.. A strong sense of perspective is needed but sometimes hard to administer.Keep up the good work.

TurfCareBlog June 24, 2021 - 7:57 pm

Thanks dave

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