Swindon AdvertiserSPORTS AWARDS: Awesome foursome up for Unsung Hero (From Swindon Advertiser)

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SPORTS AWARDS: Awesome foursome up for Unsung Hero

Swindon Advertiser: Pat 'Ma' Lewis in action, right Pat 'Ma' Lewis in action, right

FOR MANY amateur cricketers, the best part of the sport comes at around 5pm on matchday. And that’s where Pat Lewis.

The Nationwide House Cricket Club tea lady, known affectionately by players, officials, wives and girlfriends of the Pipers Way outfit as ‘Ma’, is renowned and revered for her teatime spreads across the West of England Premier League.

Every summer Lewis goes into overdrive on a Saturday, cooking up sandwiches and sausage rolls, Indian treats and tasty sweets for 22 would-be athletes and a couple of umpires to enjoy at the midway point of their respective games.

Lewis politely declines the offer of assistance from members of the club on a regular basis and her dedication to the club has not gone unnoticed, particularly by first-team captain Joe Perkins.

He told the Advertiser: “Pat has been with us since the beginning, since the club’s formation, so around 13 years. She’s a real part of the club and I can’t speak highly enough of her.

“We try to help her every season but she won’t take any other help from wives or girlfriends because it’s her tea, it’s her way.

“She’s up every Saturday morning at 6am to do the teas, so she can lay on a spread at 4pm. She does it all herself, she won’t take any help from others.

“We’re very proud of her and what she gives to us and we like to think that we have the best teas in Wiltshire. I know that they have been talked about in other cricket meetings in the area. It would be fitting is at the WEPL end of season dinner they had an award for the best tea. Pat would win hands down.

“It’s fairly well known in the area that Pat insists on everyone walking round the table clockwise - including the umpires. If you don’t walk round the table clockwise, you won’t do it again.”

  • AFTER 21 years, Mr Swindon Town Ladies deserves as much recognition as possible for the hard work and dedication he has put into the club.

That’s the view of chairman Martin Wheeler, who was delighted to find out Roger Reeves had been nominated for the Adver’s Unsung Hero of the Year award.

Wheeler has worked alongside Reeves in promoting women’s and girls’ football in the town for more than two decades and is better placed than most to comment on exactly what his friend does and has done for the club.

Reeves has held just about every role under the sun at Swindon Town Ladies down the years, including managing the side for a stretch, but his unflinching support of the club has led Wheeler to suggest he will be a popular nominee.

“He’s really been the leading light for the club,” said the chairman. 

“His title doesn’t do him justice. You name it, he does it. He has been Mr Swindon Town Ladies for as long as the club has been going.

“We’ve been around for 20-odd years and I’ve been chairman for that time, but Roger has done just about every other job there is. He’s a credit to the club and a big part of who we are.

“He’s chairman of the South West Combination, which is the league we play in, and he’s our fixtures secretary. He sorts out the referees for the league, he’s managed the team, he organises everything.“

In a previous interview with the Adver, Lewis revealed how she started off as a tea lady as a favour, which soon turned into a love affair.

“The boys were dissatisfied with what they were getting at other clubs and they asked me if I’d considered doing it,” she said.

“I said I’d give it a try and I’ve been doing it ever since. I do look forward to doing it and these are my family now. Instead of having two sons, I’ve now got about 32 sons. I love it.”

  • MAL Criddle has spent the best part of 35 years promoting Wroughton Football Club.

Having arrived in the are in the 1970s, Criddle played for Wroughton before taking on the running of the club in the 1990s. He went on to treasurer and chairman, combining the roles with his day job as headteacher at Hreod School, and on the occasion a second-team manager was needed, he was happy to step in.

Another Wroughton stalwart, Kev Cook, explained how important Criddle has been to the club.

“Mal became secretary and made sure that the club was running smoothly, most of the time keeping on top of the admin, fixtures, players’ fines, making the tea, washing the kit, putting the goals up and taking them down on matchdays, sweeping the changing rooms and marking the pitch,” he said.

“Without Mal doing all of this, the club would have never survived.

“If ever you could describe a one-man band then Mal was and still is. Mal could often be found on a Saturday morning, at the Weir Field, marking the pitch for home games. In fact still now on matchdays, you may wonder ‘where is Mal?’ and you look out onto the pitch and there he is picking up dogs’ mess with his shovel.

“In Mal’s capacity as treasurer, he was always trying to attain some sponsorship to keep the club afloat. I can recall on a couple of occasions, the bank accounts were empty after paying out pitch fees for the season. Then all of a sudden, at the start of the next season there was money in the accounts. I do not recall us gaining any sponsorship. The funds could have only come from one place, the treasurer's pocket.”

Having survived serious illness in 2011, Criddle is back involved at Wroughton - sitting on committee meetings, consulting on club matters and excelling in his latest role as tea boy.

“Mal has made the kitchen his domain and if you enter, you are entering his territory,” said Cook.

“Long may it continue.”

  • TO THE scores of young boxers who have learnt discipline and application at Walcot Amateur Boxing Club, Harry Scott will mean a great deal.

The veteran head coach has been part of the club for fully 40 years, some 25 of which have been spent in his current role - where he acts as shopkeeper, private counsel, motivational speaker, physical trainer and janitor all rolled into one.

Scott has helped create a hotbed of amateur boxing in the region, training Jamie Cox to a Commonwealth Games gold medal way back in 2002 and bringing home 19 national titles to Walcot over the past 10 years.

It’s a phenomenal achievement and Walcot coach Dave Veysey told the Advertiser that without Scott’s relentless dedication, the club simply would not function in the same way, perhaps it wouldn’t even function.

“Harry has been opening the gym six days a week for as long as anyone can remember. He’s the heart and soul of the club and without him it wouldn’t run as it does,” said Veysey.

“He’s there at six in the evening every day during the week and on Saturday mornings and he really is there every day.

“That allows other coaches like myself to work around him, doing three or four days a week.

“In the past 10 years Walcot boxers have won 19 national titles and Harry has been no small part of that. He is a huge part of the club.

“He’s pretty much given most of his life to Walcot and coaching young people the skills of boxing. He’s the heartbeat of the club, the club couldn’t survive without him.”

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