Accrington Cricket Club

Accrington Groundsman Ian McCrae gives an update on the 2008 season

Saturday and Sunday 31st May/1st June   

Matchdays at The Club

Ian on the roller
Ian rolls the wicket on the morning of the match against Enfield
©Nigel Stockley
Work on the day of a first team matchas an example let's look at last weekend's two home matches, Saturday 31st May v Enfield in the Worsley Cup and Sunday 1st June v Rishton in the league.

On Saturday morning I arrive at the ground early at 8am. Immediately I remove the sheet covering today's wicket, (or pitch as Brian Rutter correctly prefers it described). Why immediately?. Well the ground sweats underneath the sheet and , as the wicket has some moisture in it, the sooner it is exposed to the element, hopefully sun and wind the better. With no overnight rain I quickly removed the new white sheet. It only covers one wicket but is about 30 yards in length. I then cut the wicket and rolled it for about an hour. Little moisture showed on the roller although firm there was some moisture on the top surface. The wicket, which I always mark out on a Friday, is a sort of "put them in wicket". Perhaps the wicket will be a bit juicy at first, but with a few hours sun on it will play easier. I write this not as an expert but, of course after the match!.

I always work on first team matchdays. Peter was soon down checking the umpires room, sorting out the boards and in chalk announcing today's visitors, Enfield, Worsley Cup all pay £4 , o.a.p and children £2. Peter then went to pick Lionel, our scorer up. Alick cleaned out the dressing rooms then put the flags on the boundary line followed by placing the discs on the already spotted 25 yard fielding restriction circle. Haggis and Rod came down and measured the rope by the tearoom side thereby reducing the width of the boundary.

Please note that it's taken ACC one hundred years to realise that the boundaries were in the wrong place!

Christine was busily preparing for a hectic day in the tearoom. With the weather set fair it's been an ideal matchday morning during the match I've just got to make sure that Peter or Arthur will use the big motorised roller between innings or that Dave , Rod or Alven will use the hand roller while I sweep and remark the wicket. After the match I may or may not sweep the wicket, this is dependant on result, mood or weather.

Contrast Sunday, after the highs of a one run win over our local rivals, Enfield, in another classic match in lovely weather in front of a £900 plus gate, outstanding tea room sales, (using Sunday's stock), and taking £400 plus together with the bar doing a bomb, here's the opposite.

Alick and the circles
Alick puts down the circles
©Nigel Stockley

I arrive down at the ground at 9am. Christine is already preparing the food and ready to dash off and restock at the cash and carry. She informed me that five horses had been on the ground on their way to Highams Playingfields. I'll keep an eye on them deep hooved gallopers. I took the sheet off today's wicket, cut it and rolled it. I also swept and cut yesterday's wicket. All in all a good start. Bert came down and started collecting yesterday's rubbish, (a job and a half). Jill and Marion came down to join forces with  Christine  and no doubt later Iris and Christine G. will be down working hard. Birty was down sorting out the bar, (he didn't see a ball yesterday!)

By 10.30am the rain came. I sheeted up the wicket and pegged it down. Haggis came to meticulously measure the shorten the tearoom boundary again and then after discussing it with  Alick they reduced and remeasured the boundary again. All done in the rain and it took another hour!  Bert was now soaked, but the ground a lot tidier. The ladies, who contribute so much financially to keep the club going, had now made untold sandwiches,cakes etc for players sponsors, umpires committee members and potential spectators together with cleaning up the tearoom from yesterday. Another job done in vain?

By 12pm the players, committee etc arrive, sheltering, nattering, eating and enjoying endless mugs of tea. I remove the water from the sheet twice with the waterhog. Otherwise the water would flood the sheet, overspill it and the water would creep under and onto the wicket. By 1.30pm, with the rain still falling and hardly a spectator in sight, and with the 1.15pm start passed, it looks like a long wait especially knowing Dibber.

I'm ready for my dinner and decide I'm off and will leave any potential play to the well intentioned, mopper uppers, squeegeeing water whereever, spreading seed and soil, (now  mud), from the resown relevelled used wicket ends, then throwing vast amounts of sawdust over the bare ends. With the back up of forks to lift the turf and large sponges soaking up all and sundry I'm glad to be out of sight, but not out of mind, as after arriving home in Blackburn by 2pm the rain stops. So I continually keep checking the excellent web sites for ACC. and the Lancashire League for the latest news, (now that local radio doesn't cover local cricket).

The worst scenario is the game starts in wet conditions , with no gate money, full expences to umpires , gateman etc, then the rain returns after damage to the wicket and usually unprotected square, followed by a rearranged match. All in all a bummer for groundsman, tea ladies, players , spectators and committee, serious rain usually puts all uncertainty out of the question, ordinary rain keeps options open. Fortunately the rain returned before  a slippery start was made and the game was sensibly called off as was every other one within the region.

To sum up - the best laid plans are dictated to by the weather. however Sunday's frustrations don't dominate Saturday's satisfaction.


The Club