Stalwart groundsman bids adieu


Rugby

It won't seem the same at Memorial Park in Masterton come the 2013 rugby season.

Not there to ensure everything is in order will be Johnny Johnson, who has retired from the post of groundsman for the Wairarapa-Bush Rugby Union after giving nine years' service to the role.

To say the Carterton 81-year-old has taken the job seriously would be a gross understatement, a point made yesterday by WBRU executive assistant Debby Castles who describes him as a "great asset" to the Masterton-based union.

"He is up here every morning from Carterton at 6am to mark the grounds, clean up rubbish, clean toilets, pick up broken glass and generally look after the place," Castles said.

"He knows if people have been training on the main ground without our knowledge as he can see the likes of sprig marks there.

"He comes in for morning coffee and tells us 'the aliens have been flying over the park again last night, and they have dropped strapping tape all over the ground.'

"On game days he has all the changing rooms open and the blackboard written up as to where each team is allocated. He sets up the flags and posts and gets the dug-out ready for the reserve players.

"And once the park is ready for the teams, Johnny sits in front of the tunnel entry waiting for the teams to arrive. Then when the games are over he puts all the equipment away. He has probably done a nine- to 10-hour day by then.

"He knows every inch of Memorial Park - nothing gets past him!"

Johnny Johnson has appeared on the popular TV1 programme Good Sorts for his volunteer efforts.

- WAIRARAPA TIMES-AGE

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