VOLUNTEER is a boring word.

It conjures images of geeky do-gooders with nothing better to do than all the rubbish jobs while the cool guys have all the fun.

So let's use a different word because sport and sportsmen would be lost without this army of truly wonderful, not to mention vital, people.

The trouble is there isn't an obvious word which sums them up.

Unsung hero is often used but doesn't do it for me; too dramatic.

I prefer grafter because that's what they are and everyone respects a grafter.

We've all worked with grafters and respected them.

It's the same in sport. The grafters make the game possible to play. They coach, inspire, organise and run sport.

We've hundreds of them in Bolton. Last Friday was a celebration of them at the Bolton Sports Awards and we also have a great man in the running for a national award because of his graft.

John Charlson has been the secretary of Atherton Cricket Club for – wait for it – 60 years.

He's given selfless service to coaching, Lancashire, and the Bolton and District Cricket Association which I won't bore you with as I want to keep the cool brigade interested in this column as well as those who truly admire volunteers... oops, sorry... grafters.

John's in the shortlist of 11 for the Hardys Heartbeat of the Club award for which voting ends on Monday (see the last paragraph for how to vote).

He's not on his own in the area as someone who keeps sport alive.

Just taking cricket as an example, every one of our local clubs has these God-sent people who do things without any expectation or wish for reward other than to develop their club and the people who are part of it.

Darren Mullineux at Little Hulton, Tom Schofield at Tonge, Nick and Liz Chamberlain at Adlington, Simon Anderton at Little Lever, Dave Fairbrother at Horwich – they give time, effort, passion and graft to help and take nothing in return.

I make no apologies if I've missed out people at these clubs who are even greater grafters than those I've mentioned – the whole point of being an unsung hero is that people don't know who you are (otherwise you'd be a sung hero).

I also make no apologies for missing out all the scores of other grafters at our cricket clubs, or the hundreds at clubs in all sports around the town as there is not enough space in one day's whole Bolton News edition to name them all.

You can never have enough grafters at clubs so if you want to make a difference get down to one from any of dozens of sports in the town and offer your services. You'll be helping improve people's lives and give them opportunities through sport.

And who knows, maybe in the future your contribution will be recognised at the Bolton Sports Awards or a national competition as John Charlson's has.

But you won't be doing it for that, you'll be doing it for the graft not the glory.

n If you want to vote for John Charlson to become ‘Hardys Heartbeat of Club Cricket 2018, visit http://hardyswines.com/winthehardyspavilion/ click on his video and click the 'vote' button. Voting ends at 11.59pm on Monday.