Accrington Cricket Club

Accrington Groundsman Ian McCrae gives an update on the 2007 season

Ian on the mower
Our intrepid Groundsman Ian mowing the outfield in the rain
©Nigel Stockley

Monday 17th September
A few final thoughts on a wet summer. No need to go over "old ground" and discuss the effects the weather has had on the ground, the players, the spectators, the revenue etc. I will just state a few stats and a comparison with last year.

2006 - 76 matches planned - 59 played. Total runs 1st team games 3673 for 172 wickets. Average match 306 runs for 14 wickets - average runs per wicket per game 21.

2007 - 84 matches planned - 57 played. Total runs 1st team games 2644 for 158 wickets average match 264 runs for 16 wickets - average runs per wicket per game 17.

Last year 130 hours were spent rolling the square. This year 90 hours. Incidently the roller , a stothert and pitt,(a popular make), has just completed its fifth season without any problems. It's been a good buy as has the 36 inch ransomes mastiff outfield mower. It's a brute of a machine, heavy to handle but has done a great job this summer and I am confident will do over the next few summers. Two good signings.

Again I would like to thank Peter and Arthur for their help on the ground. I keep saying "keep taking the tablets lads" and mean it. However it's obvious the club would benefit from "young blood" to help with, what is, a young man's work. Bert has again quietly without fuss or recognition put in hours of work around the ground every week. Top men. Marion and Jill have cleaned out the tearoom every Monday morning ready for the weekend workers. A work on area is the perimeter of the ground. No work has been done  to the perimeter i.e mowing and strimming the bankings and the grass areas around the car park this season, save the one occasion  the council did it and have promised to do again before the end of the mowing season. Additionally very little weedkilling has been done around the concrete and seating areas. And whilst talking about the perimeter, each year about 20 seats become unfit for use. So say in the last five years 100 seats have been lost. Maybe we will pick up some cheap from when Old Trafford is redeveloped. A phone call to them may be fruitful. Some of the seats are resecured but the seating problem must be addressed in anticipation of a top team,(i.e. accy), performing in hot, dry weather before spectators aplenty. No chance, fat chance, every chance, life's full of unexpected, pleasant surprises. Let's hope next seasons pro is committed, encourages and coaches and contributes to the club with professional pride and attitude, unlike the last couple of pros.

I understand that that shortly the rugby club will be emptying their building of their equipment. The building will be very useful for the club. The tennis courts will, in the next couple of years or so, need serious money for resurfacing and repainting.

On the ground, I've scarified the square and took off 25 box loads I have reseeded the worn wicket ends and this week I am going to aerate the square thoroughly to help alleviate all the rolling. Unfortunately I can only loan a slitter, the tines go in about four inches, but will soon close in wet weather. I would prefer to punch plenty of holes to allow the roots to grow, reduce the thatch and help the topdressing, (kettering loam), to get into the surface. Anyway beggars can't be choosers. Nowhere near enough spiking is done on the square off season. The topdressing 90 bags arrive next Tuesday with the autumn fertiliser. It's sure to rain!. Then except for about a month of weekly mowing that's it. Save for moving and dismantling the frames and nets, moving the sightsceens, storing the large sheet away and moving the wooden benches in. I wonder if the "scorebox" will be dismantled and stored inside or left outside? Also the machinery needs to be taken in for service. Oh and the waterhog needs repairing and recovering. What a summer not to have it working!

A final word must involve money. A summer of finances to mull over rather than averages. It was expected, prophesised and, of course, surfaced for one and all to see earlier this summer. It was good to see the support given to the club and additionally having big names, (David and Graham Lloyd), getting involved. Not forgetting our thanks to our benefactor Mr X. The main saving has to be the pro. a local based player, with no airfare, no accommodation, no car is the obvious answer. Hopefully this major saving plus inroads in other areas to increase revenue will safeguard the future of the club. Unless a sale of land is possible I can't see how the Acc can make "big" money from any other areas. Blow me this league cricket is not all it's cracked up to be!

PS. whilst typing this update I received a phone call from Rod to say that at last weeks committee meeting they decided to give me a nice wage increase next summer. I appreciate the club's gesture showing appreciation and thanks. Ian Wilson also thanked me personally for my work before the last game of the season. I get very little interference from the committee, which I appreciate, in return Acc will continue to get my commitment and diligent, thoughtful hard work....... big ed! ........but true!

Ian's Busmans Holiday
Ian and Margaret McCrae spent four days in Taunton at the end of August.
Read Ian's diary from this busman's holiday.

Ground Update

Last Sunday, Nigel asked me if I fancied doing a ground update on this rain affected season. No problemo. I suggest that this update is not read until after the 9pm 'water'shed!' Seriously though, let's ascertain the facts. The weather was 'fine' until Tuesday, 12th June. Since then it's been appalling. A dry game in a wet land. So, from a ground point of view, what's the crack? Firstly the watertable, which is high in winter and low in summer, has been and is now, in the middle of summer, high. A high watertable means that the ground is saturated up to that level and therefore, as is now, short, sharp showers soon top the surface leaving the ground waterlogged with water lying on the surface.

From a ground point of view it is more difficult for the groundsman. In times like these usually the groundsman receive understanding and even compliments! (probably borne out of obvious mutual sympathy). Anyway let's support this reasoning with facts and not as an excuse.  Consider the following; any wicket played on in wet weather is usually 'goosed' for the season. Why? many divet marks from the ball take the top of the wicket and the wicket ends get hammered by the bowlers. If the match is called off, then it usually has to be replayed and that means that your work has been wasted and will have to be done again.

featherbed track
One of Ian's featherbed tracks
©Nigel Stockley

Usually this time of year the hot, warm weather scorches the outfield, turns it brownish instead of green, and needs less mowing. Not this year. Today Wed, 18th July, I took off 32 boxloads of cuttings, (36 inch machine), more than twice in a normal summer this time of year. Addtionally, as everyone knows, a wet cut is never as good as a dry one. 

Whilst a wet summer makes it easier to grow grass from seed, if excessive rainfall is experienced, like this summer, the seed is often washed away from where it is placed, is often covered with sawdust and then swept away or is squeegeed away from site by enthusiastic would be players.

On the square at ACC we have worms. They let their presence known in April and late August/ early September by producing casts. I can cope with that. In between times they disappear deep down in the ground because of the drier conditions. Not this summer. Their unsightly wet casts have appeared for the last month. Another negative. However time has been saved rolling this summer. Last year at this time 100 hours rolling on the square had been done. This year only 60 hours.

On the plus side, a wet summer helps you apply chemical fertilisers to the square/ outfield because they are soon washed in. On the negative side, i.e. this summer the fertiliser is not only washed in, but, washed out or leached out because of the excessive rainfall so that the benefits of fertilising, usually lasting 6 weeks last say half that time.

Because of the wet weather this summer I decided, on a dry day, to mix some weedkiller when marking the boundary out. This means that the line is visable even if the rain washes the lime out. cCever eh!

Finally let me quote an old Australian pro who played in the Lancashire League concerning our weather. "How do you cope with this weather mate, six months of bad weather and then you have winter!" enough said.

Saturday February 3rd
I've been down to the ground three times in the last fortnight. Amazingly the gales didn't do any damage to the scoreboard, sightscreens etc. The sign has still not been re-erected on the pavilion.

With the outfield mower, (on a higher cut i.e.3/4 inch), I cut the square, then about ten runs around the square where the grass was longish and finally about eight runs around the outside of the outfield. At the Highams end the grass was 3inch high. I got stuck three times despite several dry days. I'm glad I did it. The following day I reset the mower to 1/2 inch and re-cut the square. It looks well, a good colour with no disease. I then remarked the square and spot marked the boundary. Arthur said he would cut the rest of the square in the next few weeks, so I re-attached the seat on the mower for him.

The lawnmower specialists phoned to say the guard had been put on the new mower and it was available. I asked them if they could store it till they deliver in say the beginning of April, when the three month warranty will start.

I noticed that there is some work underway in the dressing rooms, (decorating by, i think, community service workers).  Rod told me that they are also going to tidy the garage out under Arthur's supervision.

Rod also told me that a schoolboy, who is going to Myerscough Agricultural College in September, would like some work experience during the six weeks holiday. I've no objection but told Rod that I would like a natter with the lad before we make any definate arrangements.

Axle is still working on the "rugby pitch". It looks o.k. I asked him not to mark it out anymore for fear that the lines will be present when cricket starts.

The Club