Groundsmans 'occasional' blog

Groundsmans 'occasional' blog

By Paul Blackwell
18 November 2018
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very occasional

Of course, for many players the season finishes in September and then the next time the ground is viewed is in April. So what happens in the meantime. Well plenty, so we thought it was about time we told you about it.

Firstly the cricket squares, both of them, get a good cut and then we employ an external contractor to:

  • Scarify them to a depth of 10mm, which removes all the detritus that builds up over a season. Effectively is is a deep facial scrub with knives!
  • Overseed the squares with quality grass seed
  • Apply lots of loam - like 2 tonnes of the stuff - which is brushed and luted into the surface
  • Fertilise both squares prior to the Autumn

All this was done in late September at a cost to the club of over £5,000. As it was in 2017 as well. We aim to continuously invest to improve the cricket squares.

But also that is why we are protective over them. Having people mess about on them, or use them without respect, is something we all have to take ownership of. The majority of everyone's subs and some of the match fees goes on the cricket wickets.

The wickets are just part of the grounds and during the Autumn we still have to cut the outfields on a regular basis. Most Saturdays you will see Paul or Chris on the tractor cutting the grass. In fact right now, the top area of the field, near the 2nd pavilion, has never been as short. Our thinking is that the more we do now, the less we have to do in the Spring. Eventually the grass will stop growing in the Winter, but as you can see out of the window, warm sunshine and damp is a fertile growing environment.

The grounds team (Paul and Chris) have removed the covers off the frames and the slats off the sightscreens. Come April it will all need putting back on again, so please watch out for a Working Party Day. It's more than a 2 man job to get these back on!

During the off-season, the pitches are rented out to Croxley Green Youth Football team whose U7 - U9 teams play on three pitches on the outfield. It may seem sacrilege to some, but actually the little footballers help to aerate the ground and the football goal areas soon repair. We mark out the football pitches every week.

One of the big success stories of this Autumn has been the renewed assault on the Moles. Already we have caught 3 or 4 of the pests and if we can carry on this success we hope to have seriously curtailed their numbers before the breeding season. It would be great to have a mole free playing surface as this stops the stones reaching the surface and the uneven ground.

For the season just gone, our pitch averaged respectable marks of 6.6 for the main square with only the outfield falling below 7 (but still decent on 6.6). We will try to do better in 2019, but as always it's the opposition skippers who mark us and if we are winning then the marks tend to be poorer.

The real success story must be the top square, due to the work in 2017 by Tim, which was then encouraged further by Chris this season. It helped having a dry summer, however average marks around 6.33 (out of 10) were exceptional. Everyone who played up there noticed a marked improvement and it was great to see scores regularly around the 200 mark. This puts the square above the average for main squares of clubs like Southgate Compton, Hatch End and Datchworth. It did play well. Unfortunately the outfield rated an average just above 4.00 making it the worst in the League. I think we all recognise that, but with a bit of effort, the extinction of the moles, some early season rolling and raking, I think we can really improve this part of our club.

So, the work goes on. I have been a little incapacitated by my broken ankle. Which is a pity as I had set out some more serious grounds work to be completed in September and October, which I couldnt carry through. My aim is to get as decent an outfield as we can, to match the improving wickets we have been getting over the last 5 years. If we aspire, and I know we do, to reach the higher levels of our League, for all teams, then we have to keep working on the grounds.

So please, when you see a request for help, don't just think that someone else will make up the numbers and do the work. The cutting and rolling that Maz and Zaf and Brendan and Owen and Harvey and Joe did earlier this season was invaluable. And we will need help again. Everyone can play a part off the field to make this club as good as it can be.

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