Local ump honoured
By STEVE SPINKS
IT'S a question I've always wanted to ask a cricket umpire.
Why do you always wear black trousers in the middle of summer?
For Casino's Neville Hayward, it's a pretty simple answer.
"Because it's the rules," the 58-year-old replied dryly.
Hayward was recently awarded the inaugural Association Medal by the NSW Umpires Association at a presentation night in Sydney.
The Association Medal is an award for the best NSW Country umpire.
It is judged on captains and association reports and on attendance to Country meetings.
For Hayward, it was a big surprise.
"They told me to come down because I'd won a award," Hayward said.
"But I didn't know about this award because it was new."
For Hayward, he hopes the Association Medal signals his rise into the representative ranks.
"Now that I've retired I've got more time," the former Casino Abattoir meat inspector said.
Hayward has been involved in local cricket since he was a child.
He was a tearaway fast bowler for the Oxford Club in the Casino competition and he recalls fondly taking a hat-trick in a final.
Hayward loves cricket so much he was still playing Interdistrict cricket as an opening bowler as a 40-year-old, which is usually when most fast bowlers have given the game away.
He admits he still gets a thrill watching young fast bowlers up close.
"I wouldn't umpire if I didn't like it," Hayward said.
"Being an old fast bowler I like watching what the young blokes are doing."
Hayward knows that umpires are sometimes not the most popular figures at a cricket match and he's copped his share of abuse.
But he reckons it's never been too bad and it usually stems from players not understanding the rules.
Hayward's award capped off a fine season for North Coast umpires.
Grafton's Darren Goodger won the George Borwick Memorial award, which is the equivalent of the Association Medal, but for metropolitan umpires.
Lismore's George Wendt also picked up an award for best umpire in Brisbane second grade.
Just goes to show that wearing black trousers on the North Coast in summer makes you hot stuff.