'You could set your watch by him' said Alison, when talking about Brian Jarrard who died suddenly at Tattenhall Recreation Club last Sunday evening.
Brian was a man of habit; on every weekday morning, at ten past eight, he would arrive at Alison's from Winsford, where he lived, and order porridge and a latte. He would take up his favourite seat by the window, have his breakfast and read a book or his tablet until the dew had lifted and it was time to start work at the Flacca. On occasions he would mind the shop if Alison or her staff had to nip out.
Brian didn't really live in Winsford; he just went there to sleep. His home was in Tattenhall where, for around forty years, he had been a loyal member of Tattenhall Cricket Club firstly as a player and then, as the years went by, as groundsman and a member of the Cricket Club Committee.
As a cricketer he was a slightly unorthodox left handed opening bat and he kept wicket. It is uncertain whether he ever scored a century for Tattenhall but Stuart Sadler, recent past captain of the First XI, remembers Brian saying that his top score at the Flacca was 88. Nevertheless a few weeks ago, when the First XI had unaccountably been dismissed for just 14 runs against Mobberley, Brian was heard to say that perhaps it was time he came out of retirement and donned his pads and gloves again.
In his working life, Brian had been a chemist at Albion Chemicals in Sandbach. Even when he was in full time employment he would come down to the Flacca and help Bill Cosbie and Nick Toosey by rolling the wicket or carrying out other tasks. Over the years, and after Bill and Nick retired, Brian did more and more until he was effectively full time volunteer groundsman. He wasn't entirely self-taught – he went on groundsman's courses and used to get advice from other experienced groundsmen at clubs like Chester Boughton Hall and Warrington. And from 2009 until 2016 he was Secretary of the Cheshire Association of Groundsmen and younger groundsmen were coming to ask him for advice.
The consequence of his dedication and hard work is a ground and a square which is one of the finest in the county. It is a ground which has played host to both one day and three day county games as well as special occasions like the visit of the Lashings World XI in 2014 when former England Test players, Phil de Freitas, John Emburey, Devon Malcolm and South African opening batsman, Herschelle Gibbs, played a Tattenhall XI and when a young Ben Gibbon made two outstanding catches on the square leg and long-on boundaries which won him the Lashings Man of the Match award. Brian always loved to see young Tattenhall cricketers come through the junior ranks and make the senior teams.
What Brian achieved over years of steady improvement of the square and the tracks has, according to long standing club member, Geoff Beddow, been 'nothing short of a miracle'. Other club members have paid their own tributes – 'he was totally reliable' – 'he always went above and beyond the call of duty'- 'he would always do a favour for you'. In October 2015 his commitment was recognised with the award of a cricketing OSCA (Outstanding Service to Cricket Award) presented to him at Lord's by Mike Gatting (pictured with Brian above), former England test captain and a Past President of the MCC.
So many members of the Tattenhall Recreation Club will have their own indelible memories of Brian – of him walking out from the clubhouse to inspect the square, of him working in the middle on the next tracks to be used, of him cutting the outfield on his green tractor, of him coming back to the clubhouse when his work was done or the weather was too inclement to continue and his reading a book or watching football on TV. He did have other interests: he would go to Gresty Road to watch Crewe Alexandra, he had been a choral singer, an occasional bridge player and he regularly went with other club members to Old Trafford,and with Nick Toosey to Lord's, to watch Test Matches.
But over the years he was most at home in Tattenhall and one of its most loyal servants. He will be greatly missed not just by members of Tattenhall Cricket Club but by the wider family of Sport Tattenhall, and Alison and Ron and their colleagues at Alison's and all those Tattenhallers who walk and admire the beautiful grounds at the Flacca which are Brian's legacy and a testament to his very many years of dedicated service.