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12th November 2009

A day with Durham CCC’s…Operations Team

As Facilities Manager, Hoppsy, who will work his 18th season for the Club in 2010, normally arrives at Riverside at about 7.30am on a domestic match day so he can check that everything is in working order before the spectators arrive .

“It’s my responsibility to make sure that everything is up and running to make sure the ground is ready and equipped for the day’s events –it pretty much covers everything, from making sure the lifts are working, to checking that seats in the ground aren’t damaged.  My day is completely tailored around dealing with problems that arise – occasionally I can be in the office doing paperwork without a disturbance, but that is rare! Most of the time a list of things crop up at the same time and we have to work through them as quickly as possible.

I spend the winter months taking stock of anything that might need to be done around the stadium, whether it’s painting, improvements to public areas or just general maintenance.  One of the major challenges we face is ensuring that the stadium gets older we keep its facilities to a first class level.   We’re always looking for new innovations that we can incorporate into the stadium that will offer improvement, the positions of cameras for the analysts, for example, or be more environmentally friendly or energy efficient, we recently trialled sensor lighting in the toilets of the media centre and that’s something we’re investigating taking further.

“In short, the Ops team provide solutions to allow the other departments to bring ideas or requests into fruition.  For example, if the Marketing team want to bring in entertainment for events we need to be able to ensure that we have space for it and  that it meets health and safety standards.

“For international matches I do the blueprint for the ground layout so we can ensure the outlets are positioned where they can access electricity.

“For me, each day is varied and normally gives me a new challenge! I’ve seen a lot of changes at the Club and I’m really excited about the further developments – the stadium will look fabulous once it’s completed.  To be involved in the success of the Club gives me a great deal of satisfaction.
Safety Manager, John Handy, is another long serving member of staff having worked at Riverside for 16 seasons, starting with a summer contract before permanently joining the team.

“My day to day job is to make sure that we meet standards in health and safety for a business environment and there is a lot of paperwork involved in that! Legislation changes all the time so we have to make sure that we’re on the ball.  During the close season I review our risk assessments and conduct display screen self assessments with each member of staff, giving me the chance to make sure that their working environment isn’t causing them any problems.  

“I run the Health and Safety Forums too and we have these meetings twice a year, with a representative from each department attending, in order to flag up any concerns from departments and to alert staff to any changes or courses that they may need to attend, for example, fire marshall training.  Obviously, issues can be brought up at any time with me individually but the forums allow us to have a more formal discussion.

“Once the fixtures are confirmed I start planning for the season, checking steward availability and scheduling further training they might need.  I have a group of about 40 stewards that work for me, all of which have achieved level two NVQ’s in Spectator Safety.  I also start putting together the duty rotas for things like the St John’s Ambulance presence at the ground.

“January time is when I’ll start looking at the plans for that year’s international fixtures, writing my Ops plan and attending meeting s with the Safety Advisory group which includes the police, emergency services, the council and the stewarding companies.  On a major match day I’m usually in the ground from 5.00am until around three hours after the close of play.  

“The total safety of every person in the ground is my responsibility so first of all I conduct basic safety checks and then brief the stewards on their role for the day.  I have more than 200 staff reporting to me at an international fixture, all of whom are there to provide maximum safety for people in attendance.  The police and I watch the crowd from our match control base throughout the deal in order to be proactive towards any instances that might occur.  

“A lot of work goes into major matches, we spend a week before doing all the setting up on site and it’s always really rewarding to see the work we’ve been planning all winter being actioned.”

Richard Dowson, our Operation Manager, who joined the Club in 2005, keeps everyone on the straight and narrow, organising our planning meetings for any events at Riverside.

“My job is to make sure that staff and departments are co-ordinated in what they do, therefore I need to know what everyone has planned and is doing on each day to ensure that we can cater to each department and the spectator requirements.  This is especially important at our major matches, as all the departments individual plans need to come together seamlessly to produce the same end result – a great event.  

“I’m the point of contact for ECB representatives, the Sky set up team and match referees for example, and obviously the two John’s keep me up to speed on anything that needs dealing with from their side.  If everything goes to plan and we have no surprises it can be a fairly smooth day but there are occasions when things do go wrong, which we can’t plan for and it can become a bit fraught.

“My proudest moments during my time at Riverside have both occurred in this last season, our One Day International went well and for that to come at the end of a difficult season, after a disappointing Test Match, for example, was fantastic.  I love the buzz of the big events and it’s important to take a step back and take in what we’ve achieved as a team in terms of hosting these events successfully.   There is always room for improvement, and that is a major aspect of my role in the winter, looking over the assessments we receive from the ECB, members, spectators and collating their feedback to give us action points for the following year.

“The day we won the Championship in front of the home crowd was fantastic, the way in which the title was won, the weather, and the operational planning from our side and from the marketing team just slipped into place and I think we gave the spectators and players a memorable afternoon.  

“This winter has been incredibly busy and after months of planning during the summer work began on the new outfield draining system the day after the ODI, so there hasn’t really been time to take a breath! This is undoubtedly my biggest current project, keeping on schedule is incredibly important.  I have fortnightly meetings with the two other project managers, one from the drainage company and one from the turf company, to make sure they are working to plan.  I’ll also see the site foreman twice a week to get updates on progress.  We set off well but the heavy rain we’ve had recently has caused some delay.

“The overall ground development planning also falls under my responsibilities and with our end goal being a completed stadium by 2013 we’re already trying to put together plans for the further development. 

“As a venue we’re already looking at the planning for our ODI in September next year.  We have several different planning group meeting, all of which I chair, so that I can, for example, pass on relevant material to the catering team from the marketing and box office meetings.  These meetings normally are held every two months and then we have all staff briefings nearer the event itself.

“A major part of my role is putting together the traffic and travel plans for our major matches.  In the last few years we’ve introduced shuttle buses and park and ride to try and reduce the amount of in-bound and out-bound traffic.  My number one challenge is to improve this year on year so I have regular meetings with the police, council and 
highways agency.  

“Other things on my to do list during the winter are re-newing our insurance, gas and electricity and reviewing certain aspects of our set up, for example, WiFi provision and what we can do to become a greener venue.  

“We’ve got a great team at Riverside and you can always be sure that we’re putting in every effort to make our supporters proud.”



Next week we visit the hub of Riverside, the Box Office, it’s worth reading just for the tale of the magpie!


A day with Durham CCC’s…Media Manager


A day with Durham CCC’s…Promotion Manager