GOATACRE Cricket Club chairman John Wilkins has won the national Voneus Village Cup Club Legend award.

The award celebrates individuals who show dedication and passion to the sport and their communities, and Goatacre's chairman - who has been involved at his club for almost 50 years - has been an inegral part both on and off the pitch in his time while helping to create a family atmosphere.

John, who began his involvement with Goatacre CC at the age of 13 in 1973, has made more than 160 appearances in the Voneus Village Cup since his debut in the competition in 1976.

He has also had the pleasure of lifting the trophy twice: taking to the wicket himself during Goatacre’s two previous Village Cup championship final successes in 1988 and 1990.

Now overseeing the growth of the club in the role of chairman, John also does his part to take care of the club’s two fields along with the field of local competitor Marshfields CC, ensuring games held at the grounds are under top conditions and in a Covid-safe manner.

John said: “I try and stick under the radar; I try to steer clear of the limelight. I prefer to just do what I do quietly and encourage others, but it is a great honour.

“I’ve been chairman for five or six years now – possibly a year or two too long! It needs someone new to come in with new ideas so I’m trying to encourage others to get involved.

“I also look after our two grounds – [Village Cup legend] Kevin Iles gave us a field to use as a second ground – and also Marshfields. We play in the same league as them.

“I was fortunate enough to have a business which I got out of about 10 years ago. The plan was to work on cricket grounds in the summer and have the winters off for holidays, although that’s gone by the wayside for the moment.

“I’ve got the time to do things and the experience of working in health and safety, so that helped with Covid. We’re very organised and the players have been good with the distancing and sanitising.”

During John’s time at the club, the side has expanded heavily, going from a single side in the early 1970s to four Saturday squads and more than 100 junior players, with John’s championing of the club’s family atmosphere a significant part of the growth.

His passion behind the club’s atmosphere has even seeped down to his own family, with his children Jonathan and Ed current members of the team which competed in this season’s Voneus Village Cup run, where Goatacre fell to Calmore Sports CC on wickets remaining in the final 16.

John himself also continues to take to the crease, currently playing for Wiltshire County Seniors CC.

John added: “The fourth team are as important as the first team – everyone matters.

“Cricket is just a hobby, don’t take it too seriously. It’s great to be a good side but don’t get carried away. A couple of Saturdays ago for example, the thirds were at home and there was a mix of all four sides who stayed late into the evening because they all get on together. It’s one club and that’s important.”

“We had five sons of fathers who played in the 1990 final playing this year. I’ve got two sons who play and they’re desperate to do the same thing, they were at the final as little kids. And Brad Dawson is [English test cricketer] Liam Dawson’s brother. It would be great if Brad can get there because his brother has played at Lord’s a lot.”

Goatacre CC’s first-team scorer and umpires and scorers officer Keith Fuller, who nominated John for the Voneus Village Cup Club Legend award, said: “He devotes so much time to the club, getting pitches and facilities ready, mostly on his own, and preparing pitches during the winter. He deserves recognition but would be the first not to want the fuss.

”He takes on every role that comes along, most recently making cricket Covid-safe at the ground.

“He looks after two pitches at the club and yet another at Marshfield CC. He chairs, recruits and encourages all around him to progress, whether player, official or supporter.”