FEW have given more to the North Nowra-Cambewarra Cricket Club over the years than Alan Muggleton.
As a player, Muggleton dominated with bat and ball, both in the Shoalhaven District Cricket Association scene but also at higher levels, such as Southern Zone.
"I started playing cricket at 13 years of age and had two four-year stints away from the game," Muggleton said.
"It was during the latter of these that Noel Goodger (the founding member and first official life member of Norths) informed me when the club entered a first grade team, he thought I'd be an ideal candidate to skipper the side (which happened in 1994-95 after changing its name from North Nowra Tavern)."
While that is a massive achievement in itself, some would argue Muggleton's other contributions to the club, as a coach, board member and more important curator, have been just as significant.
"Sadly Noel passed away in 2005, however he passed his knowledge of wicket preparation on to me," he said.
"I looked at curators over the years I had played against and figured I could also do the same and give something back to cricket.
"In 2005, the turf wicket at the Bernie Regan Sports Complex was laid and I offered my services to be a curator.
"So strictly speaking, I have only been curating at Bernie Regan for 17 seasons and prior to that assisting Noel at Artie Smith number two when that was Norths' home wicket."
During his decades of curating work, the now 57-year-old has prepared hundreds of pitches - with numerous of those being ones he'll never forget.
"Oddly enough, last season's grand final was one of the most difficult to prepare, as persistent heavy rain in the preceding week meant no preparation till late Thursday evening," he said.
"The outfield was still heavy, so even getting the roller to the wicket was dicey and that happened on Friday.
"Now bear in mind, preparation normally starts to take place after the days play the previous week.
"I knew the wicket was hard but to my surprise, it played far better than even I had anticipated.
"At the end of the day, the main objective I had as a curator was to instil a feeling of confidence into the first and second grade players, who were batting on their home wicket.
"Over the years, the clubs with the better-prepared wickets were the most successful and that was what I was endeavouring to achieve at Norths."
But as Muggleton touched on, achieving that sometimes proved tough with the weather.
"In my opinion, there are several factors affecting the outcome of a wicket," said Muggleton, who thanked Shoalhaven Ex-Servicemens' Tony Webster and Bomaderry's Graeme and Ian Sawkins for sharing their invaluable curating knowledge over the years.
"The one variable I can't control is the weather and to that end, a constant monitoring of Weatherzone is required.
"The correct amount of water, grass not too long and roll at the right time.
"If any one of these are altered that will change how the wicket plays."
Despite this passion, the 2020-21 SDCA season was Muggleton's last as the club's curator, as he decided to declare from his post after close to 30 years.
"Three seasons ago, I said to Dean Tyson my aim was to be there when Norths won first grade for the first time," he said.
"Two seasons later, that happened again at Bernie Regan, so I feel my work is done and it is time to hand the reins over to someone else.
"I know Norths were in talks with a possible curator and although I have no advice for the incoming curator, I'm happy to pass on my knowledge if they believe it can me used to their advantage."
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