By Elroy StephneyDESPITE not having any formal training in the art of preparing cricket pitches, Lloyd Wallace became Essequibo’s most enduring and successful curator spanning over a decade.Formerly from Hampton Court on the Essequibo Coast, he lived just a few yards from the famous Kayman Sankar cricket ground. The venue then provided the opportunity for him to expose his talent as an employee of the firm where he spent over 15 years.In an exclusive interview with Chronicle Sport, the strongly built yet affable Lloyd Wallace was happy to reminisce on his sojourn as one of the best in the Caribbean as he put it. “I was rated by former International Umpire Billy Doctrove from Dominica as being one of the best in the Region”..“In my time, I was privileged to have prepared quality pitches for Red Stripe, Shell Shield and Inter-county matches and received quite favourable commendations from the players,” he added.“The Kayman Sankar ground became my home because I loved my task and it was done through consistently hard work, sacrifice and dedication towards a sport that I loved dearly,” emphasised the 51-year-old veteran who is one of ten brothers, five of whom represented Essequibo at the Inter-county level, namely Trenton Peters, Orin Wallace, Aubrey Wallace, Derick Wallace and Clifford Wallace.In fact, Lloyd Wallace also represented Essequibo in softball at the inter-county stage and was among the finest behind the stumps locally. “I was nick-named Blades because I was so sharp behind the wicket,” he acknowledged with some degree of satisfaction.Back on the pitch, ‘Blades’ was a monumental figure at the ground where he would studiously and repetitively arrange his equipment to undergo a rigorous job that required intense concentration and attention.There was never a dull moment witnessing him in action and he was an expert at his trade that he mastered without tutoring.“I was never exposed to training. My instinct, on-the-job experience and constant exposure to mud, water, roller, paint and brush were all that I needed to understand my role as a groundsman,” he responded.He shared the following memory with a real sense of pride. “I remember preparing the pitch for the likes of Brian Lara, Curtly Ambrose, Joel Garner, Richie Richardson, Phil Simmons, Ian Bishop, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Clayton Lambert among others and I felt honoured to be doing so for my heroes,” he boasted.“I recalled Trinidad and Tobago defeating Guyana in a Red Stripe match in the late 1990s when the great Brian Lara was Man-of-the-Match, scoring 67 runs. I was also proud of the Essequibo Under-16 team winning against Demerara in the Neville Sarjoo tournament.”“These are memories that I will forever etch in my heart as I played a role in providing an environment in which all were satisfied and much to the delight of the fans as well.”Upon reflection, the popular ‘Blades’ would single out Rovendra Mandolall, Jermain Jones, Dinesh Joseph, Ray Reid and Delvin Austin among others whose talent he witnessed right at the ground as being promising cricketers while his brother Trenton Peters, Jaimini Singh, Orin Belfield and Mark Stephney were good during his time.He has since expressed gratitude to the Kayman Sankar Group of Companies for their tremendous support as well as Kayman and Beni Sankar who were pioneers of the game in Essequibo.Wallace who is married and has four children, now resides in La Belle Alliance. He has since become an entrepreneur and security officer, but was quick to reveal that he is willing to share his experience with the Essequibo Cricket Board (ECB) and local clubs, even as he noted that the standard of preparing pitches now is very poor since much more education and guidance is needed for the art to develop and succeed.While the Hampton Court ground no longer exists and the towering figure of ‘Blades’ does not perform duties, he will be remembered as Essequibo’s most celebrated curator.
In 20 years at Archbishop (New York) Stepinac High School, Mike O’Donnell had never had a player offered a scholarship before his senior season.That was until Donnie Simmons, a 17-year-old speedy defensive lineman, grew into his frame and started garnering early interest from colleges. Simmons received an offer from Akron and also attracted Ohio, but ended up committing to Syracuse before playing his way to all-league and all-state honors as a senior.“Donnie helped put us on the map more of being a football program and since then, more and more kids are going to play in college,” O’Donnell said. “Since then, we got kids to want to come to the school because of the level of football we’re playing. I think Donnie was a pioneer for us.”Of the kids who’ve benefited since Simmons graduated in 2010, one will play his first college game against Simmons and Syracuse when Rhode Island visits the Carrier Dome at 7 p.m. on Friday. Dwayne Scott, a freshman offensive lineman for the Rams, was a standout at Archbishop Stepinac and was inspired by Simmons and his state championship-winning team.And while it’s unlikely that Scott will see the field and find himself blocking Simmons — who is expected to be a Week 1 starter for the first time in his five-year career — he’ll be in the same building as the player who helped pave his football future.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“We always said it, ‘We want to be like that 2010 team,’” Scott said. “It’s hard to put into words how good they were. We knew it and guys like Donnie, he pushed us to put in work.”Simmons and Scott are completely opposite players. At 6 feet, 2 inches and 264 pounds, Simmons uses speed around the edge to mask his small frame for a defensive end. At 6 feet, 2 inches and 304 pounds, Scott uses strength first and is always polishing his athleticism. Simmons’ goal is to run around players. Scott’s goal is to hold them in front of him.But their high school selves shared the common goal of playing college football, and Simmons visited White Plains, New York during breaks and told Scott and his teammates what the experience at Syracuse was like. The training, the facilities, the competition — Scott and his teammates sat around the weight room and listened intently to Simmons’ stories.Then Simmons would work out with the team, and Scott saw what it took to be a D-I football player.“Any time you get to work with a college player and you’re in high school, it can only make you better,” Scott said. “When Donnie came back to work out those times, you saw what it took.”On Friday, Simmons’and Scott’s paths will converge before they go entirely separate ways.After redshirting as a freshman and then missing all of 2013 with a torn ACL, Simmons sees 2015 as his chance to finally prove what he can do. Scott, on the other hand, is joining an offensive line that returned four starters and seven players with college playing experience. It will be the beginning of the end for Simmons, and the beginning of it all for Scott.For both of them, it all took root with Simmons’ success.“I tried my best to lead the way, so others could implement that same mindset to achieve great things,” Simmons said. “Not just staying at one level, just going for that highest peak and the best of your ability.” Comments Published on September 1, 2015 at 10:59 pm Contact Jesse: email@example.com | @dougherty_jesse Facebook Twitter Google+
AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterShare to MoreAddThisFriends of Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary had a very busy month. The non-profit organization is gearing up for their fundraiser, ‘All Aboard.’ Click for more.AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterShare to MoreAddThis Tags: All Aboard, friends of thunder bay national marine sanctuaryContinue ReadingPrevious Oscoda Community Center Holds Family Wellness CelebrationNext 3 Illegal Immigrants Arrested In Alpena