The Andries Dlamini Oval
At the end of June 2018 we bid farewell to one of our longest serving staff members, Mr Andries Dlamini who retired after 40 years of service to the College. This year on Founders’ Day, 1 June 2019, the Main Oval at St Stithians was named after Andries Dlamini, who loyally and expertly prepared and marked the pitches and fields of St Stithians College from 1977 to 2018.
We thank Mr Andries Dlamini for his years of service to St Stithians and for passion that he brought to his work.
Every cricketer, rugby player, footballer and athlete owe much of their happy hours of play and competition to him and our ground staff, without whose dedication and care, there would be no fields.
Below is a copy of the speech made by Mr Ian Rickelton, Director of Sport at the Boys’ College at a Chapel service in 2018 to celebrate Andries and his contribution to the College.
Farewell to a Saints Stalwart, Mr Andries Dlamini
Today is a bitter sweet moment for me and I would think the same for many staff and perhaps for many of you. Today we say goodbye to a Saints stalwart – a man who has worked at the College since 1977.
Think about that for a moment – 1977 – it’s now 2018.
Mr Andries Dlamini leaves the College today after 4 decades of service – an outstanding achievement.
He was born in Paul Pietersburg in Kwa Zulu Natal on 10 March 1955.
He is one of 14 children – the oldest of 4 brothers (his brother Petros currently works in the events department at the College) and 10 sisters. He is the 3rdoldest sibling in the family.
He married SAMARIYA SOMBO in 1984 and together they raised 8 children.
An integral member of his extended family – his mother who was born in 1926 – awaits his return to the family home – she is alive and well.
Mr Dlamini started his time at Saints in 1977 where he worked as a young man in Mountstephens boarding house. He had a short stint away from Saints when he returned to the farm when his father sadly passed away but returned to the College in August 1983 where he started working as part of the grounds team.
He worked as a member of a team of 4 with the then groundsman – Mr Baytopp.
You will know that name well.
Mr Dlamini will tell you that there were no fences around Saints, that cows grazed everywhere and that the College consisted of the Boys’ College buildings, 2 boarding houses plus the kitchen and the Ridgway, Baytopp and Jamieson Fields and the Main Oval.
He remembers the time when all the areas around the College buildings and fields were either forest or veld – the College was completely surrounded by bush and trees.
Many of you sitting here today may not be aware of the impact that he has had on your lives and the 1000’s of students who have gone before you.
Mr Dlamini has, for over 30 years, marked every line on every field – he was out there this morning ensuring that the football fields on Jamieson are ready for today’s Boys’ Prep matches. He is that sort of person – he had to check just once more to confirm that all was in order.
He has cut, watered, marked and rolled each cricket pitch together with the grounds team for years. Anyone who knows cricket will tell you that our pitches are amongst the best in the business.
If you are into appreciating the skills of others then you would have admired – as I do – his ability to mark out an athletic track.
You would have seen him using a tape measure, lengths of rope and a line marking machine (painting lines 30 years ago was done virtually by hand) – that’s it - nothing else.
He knows where to start the process, where the bends begin and end and the tracks were always able to fit into the space available – and he knew if a track was 400m or a meter short because of space available – he would always let me know when this was the case.
Never once have I seen him with a written plan – either on paper or a phone or an ipad – in his hand.
The information is in his head and the “FEEL” – the ability, the skill – is in his hands – something which many of us overlook the importance of.
He is a perfectionist and he in passionate about the work that he does – the fact that he was out there this morning checking that the fields were ready confirms this again.
Mr Andries Dlamini – thank you for your years of service to the boys and the staff at the College.
Every cricketer, rugby player, footballer, athlete and the boys who used to play hockey on the grass fields, and 1000s of others, owe much of their happy hours of play and competition to you and the men and women who make up the grounds team – without yours, and their dedication and care, there would be no fields.
Andries turned a job into a passion – he always fretted about standards – his own standards and they were always higher than we expected.
Mr Dlamini – we wish you well as you return to the farm.
Speaking to him a day or 2 ago his eyes lit up when he spoke of the future – he is ready for and excited about the next phase of his life – perhaps a lesson for us all.