Faithfull still not out after long innings

THE LONG HAUL: Volunteer cricket administrator Allan Faithfull.
THE LONG HAUL: Volunteer cricket administrator Allan Faithfull.

Today The Southland Times start our Legends of Sport series. This is where we acknowledge those people who, behind the scenes, without any financial reward, make sport in Southland tick. First up in our series is cricket administrator Allan Faithfull. As Logan Savory explains, he is certainly a Legend of Sport.

Since Allan Faithfull left school and joined the Invercargill Cricket Club in 1976 the sport of cricket has absorbed his life.

As a player, volunteer administrator and keen supporter of the game, Faithfull has poured many hours into helping make cricket prosper in the south.

In 2005 that dedication was honoured when he was awarded Life Membership of the Southland Cricket Association.

But even that life member's tag struggles to acknowledge the role Faithfull has played in keeping the sport of cricket alive in Southland during his 36-plus years of involvement.

Faithfull played for the Invercargill club from 1976 through to 1988 when that year the club merged with Old Boys to form the Invercargill-Old Boys Cricket Club.

Not surprisingly, Faithfull was one of the administrators, along with Keith Adams, Lindsay McLean and Neil Adam, entrusted with overseeing that important merger.

Faithfull continued to play for the joint Invercargill-Old Boys club until 1992 when he retired from playing the game.

His highlight as player was in 1991 when, after many years battling away in the club scene, he received an opportunity to play for Southland in their defence of the Hawke Cup.

Unlike many who call time on their playing days Faithfull did not want to cut his association with the sport at that point.

He was shoulder-tapped by Neil Tapper about the prospect of becoming an umpire and the former wicketkeeper, along with his Invercargill-Old Boys team-mate Keith Adams, decided they would take on the task of officiating.

Thirty years on from joining the umpiring ranks Faithfull is still involved and playing just as an important role as ever.

He finished as a fulltime umpire in 2005 but remains the chairman of the Southland Cricket Umpires and Scorers Association, a position he has held since 1994.

Faithfull has been a key figure in helping breathe life back into the umpires and scorers organisation after it was at one time on the brink of collapse.

Most senior games early this decade were officiated by the players themselves because only Faithfull and Adams were on the umpires' roster at that stage.

"From 2000 onwards I took a bit of self-responsibility, I suppose. I was just trying to keep the umpires going because as you know it wasn't looking that good and it wasn't getting any better," he recalled.

Faithfull concedes that towards the end of his umpiring days what kept him going was a determination to help the sport remain strong.

He certainly did not want to leave Southland cricket in a vulnerable state without any umpires at all.

However, since then the umpire numbers have improved to the stage where they now have eight umpires and Southland dominate the Otago-wide rankings.

Much of that can be put down to the mentoring role undertaken by Faithfull, who trains the umpires and devotes endless hours keeping them up to date.

His involvement does not end there though.

Faithfull can often been spotted pottering around Queens Park where he assists Kevin Cooper and Ben Morrison with the grounds.

One of his duties has been to swap the white sight screens at each end of the ground with black screens when needed.

The hours he spends at Southland Cricket's Queens Park headquarters are astonishing for a volunteer but it remains something he has been more than happy doing.

"The hours I put in are probably as many hours as my paid job, it's an incredible amount of work.

"I come home from work and it's basically organising umpiring until I go to bed.

"There's a huge amount of work but that's the same with any sports administration.

"It's a passion for the game. I basically haven't stopped with cricket since I started playing. It's something I enjoy doing.

"I certainly have considered at times getting out of it but at this stage I'm still enthusiastic about it."

Southland Cricket Association general manager Ian Mockford said having people like Faithfull doing what he did for the sport was a massive boost.

While Faithfull goes about his business without pay Mockford said he was considered very much part of the staff at the Southland association.

"He's pretty much there every day with umpiring stuff, but especially around the season.

"Any time you need someone there to assist with grounds and things like that Allan is always available.

"I have him on that he's a life member so that's what he has to do and he always has a laugh.

"People like him are invaluable."

The Southland Times