Accrington Cricket Club

Accrington Groundsman Ian McCrae has toured all the Lancashire League Grounds during the 2008 season. Ian gives us the lowdown on his findings

Ian at Rammy
Ian and the Rammy roller

Church  Over the last few years the club have had an excellent team of ground workers who have kept the perimeter of the ground very tidy to compliment the well thought out sponsored wooden fence around the ground. Unfortunately the ground staff is diminishing due to age and illness. Still the sloping square and the outfield are well kept and a credit to all concerned. The newish lounge is also impressive. 

Bacup   Like Church, a sloping ground. high altitude and therefore cold. Before visiting it I got the impression that the ground came secondary to the clubhouse. However I found the ground to be very tidily kept. Two good clubmen looking after the perimeter and pavilion etc, a part-timer cutting the outfield and another part-timer looking after the square. The superb new pavilion opened two years ago through a trust which  realised £45000. The tearoom which, with the help of the bowling section, has been refurbished and repaired inside and out together with new seating, speaks well of the club. A wealthy backer helps as well. All clubs could do with one. Strange to see a bowling green on the outfield 

Burnley  A dedicated, full time throughout the year, groundsman, with knowledge and experience helps  to keep the playing surface in excellent condition. Neighbours,  Burnley football club must have benefited  the cricket club financially with the sale of land plus car parking. Impressed with the club's new five figure roller. I understand that a good price was received for the old 'Dibnah' roller. Ramsbottom please note, yours looks 1930's  


Colne,  Another sloping ground with a separate bowling green. A change to the clubhouse since I was last there especially to the facia. I  thought that the ground could be a bit run down, perhaps because of the club's temporary league position. Wrong. new excellent fold-up seating at £6 each with more in reserve, over fifty clean  advertisement hoardings around the ground, a good social side, as well as a well run tearoom which operates throughout winter at weekends  because junior football is played on the outfield bringing in extra revenue. Good roll on covers as well for the vastly experienced, loyal, ful ltime groundsman. 


East Lancs.   Little change over the years to the ground. The tennis section has gone, two bowling greens with it's own clubhouse remain. The cricket side has been helped over the years  by the squash section, Jack Walker and the Grammar School's purchase of land. In recent years, improved revenue from the social side has helped the club and, no doubt, the fulltime groundsman to maintain and improve the well maintained ground which produces good cricket wickets. 


Enfield.  The social side will always ensure that sufficient money is available for the ground. Nearly every week in the local paper there seems to be a photo of someone's do at Enfield c.c.  This sloping ground is now being maintained by the pro. A throwback to the turn of the century when most professionals  were groundsmen as well 


Haslingden.   A good example of success on and off the field over the last three decades has meant that the club has very good seating around the ground. Two relaid county standard wickets on the square, (on which Lancs seconds used to play) and an thriving, well used social section. This season's match versus Lashings World X1 showed their enterprise. Unfortunately the well appointed clubhouse is of a wooden  construction  leading to sky-high insurance premiums. Talk is of a new clubhouse and changing rooms. The likeable part-time groundsman has the slowest roller ever amongst his well equipped garage. Still he knows the best type of rolling is the slowest! 


Lowerhouse .  I visited on a non playing day and was warmly received by the groundsman, probably because I helped him sheet up. Talk about a busman's holiday!   I think there is a good camaraderie amongst groundsman because we all have  problems of a different sort and one common one is the weather!  I was also offered his help should I want to use any of his equipment. Although I think it unlikley this will occur again. It shows that any 'rivalry' is of the healthy type. Six fantastic new artificial nets with extented run-ups in superb strong looking frames took my breath away. Obviously obtained with the aid of a grant, which of course involves a lot of hard work.  Presumably with work like this, long term security of tenure of the ground by the club has been obtained. Somehow I felt my groundwork at Accy was more similar to Lowerhouse's groundsman's than any of the other grounds. 


Ramsbottom  Lovely ground, good seating numerically, but not in terms of comfort. Like Lowerhouse, several,(in fact seven), new artificial nets and frames are about to be installed.  The club have to contribute 25% to the cost and also had to change it's constitution. They are to be housed behind the scorebox. Very impressed by the victorian,[listed building ?], changing rooms and committee rooms, although I couldn't gain access to the committee room to look at the photos and memorabilia. The lounge looked impressive. If the club have benefited financially from the paper mill and it remains well painted, so be it . Additional revenue must come from Ramsbottom United F.C.. for their use of the cricket clubs land adjoining the ground. Good grass practice wickets at the football side of the ground  plus excellent sheets and roll on covers make this ground ,(another sloping one), a super league cricket ground which has accommodated Lancs seconds and may again, if as I understand, about another few thousand pounds are to be spent on their square. 


Rawtenstall  A  small ground , no, a narrow ground. part-time groundsman with land rover, (handy for transporting sheets which can cover most of the square), has good equipment. The ugly mill opposite the pavilion has now been refurbished as flats and looks o.k. Unfortunately the fantastic terracing is now in decline which brings health and safety into play. Sale of land for building  must help the club finance the new clubhouse. Hard work short term, bringing long term benefits.  Hope, like Accy, their present financial problems are resolved.


 Rishton Excellent concreted concourse around the ground. Excellent outside caterers who operate at the club throughout the winter at weekends.  Funnily enough I've never seen the 'Viv Richards' roll on covers come out of their garages . Village club supported by villagers  but ever alert for a top pro and a better pavillion


 Todmorden..   Picturesque ground despite floods and fire damage to the clubhouse and pavilion. Tod's ground ranks with the best. Lancs or is it Yorks seconds play here. I couldn't believe that seven, count them seven, part-time workers work on the ground. The workers had sky blue tee-shirts with the logo 'Todmorden ground staff', I know I  counted them at the Worsley Cup Final. 


Nelson  Another full time groundsman for the summer at least with good equipment. A new scorebox courtesy of a benefactor, (without wanting to sound callous - dead or alive).  A new pavilion and lounge as good as anyones , courtesy of the M65  and a bowling green to boot. Huge roll on covers that you couldn't get through Accy's gates. Obvious potential. 


Accrington. Where do I start?  Having worked here in the seventies , eighties and this century. On the positive side, the ground has good pleasant settings i.e. the Coppice side, the Huncoat side and even the Higham's side, however on our perimeter areas major work needs to be done. In previous years , a landscape gardener mowed and strimmed the perimeter grass areas  monthly at £50 a time.... good value in my eyes. He died. Last year we then managed to get the council to cut the perimeter a couple of times. This year a community worker, using our small hand mower and strimmer up till July did a good job. He has now finished his hours and so for in two months nothings been done.


The bankings on the Coppice side, the bankings and grass areas by the main car park are overgrown. The Highams end is a mess, in need of a strim and tidy up as is the Huncoat end. The wall is fine, the growth around the concrete is awful. let alone the fact that the boundary edge which was edged off from the tea room side to the Coppice banking in the spring is now overgrown.  


In fact, save what Bert's done with his hand shears and watering-can plus weedkiller , no work has been done on the perimeter. We have no active workers at A.C.C  on the outfield and square,  whereas in the past Peter and Arthur did for many years excellent work. Through no fault of their own, they cannot now physically do any work, save rolling or mower maintenance, (for which I would find it difficult to continue).


To continue, our seating is the worst in the league. hopefully Lancs C.C. will help us out. Our existing seating from Lancs C.C. is tired, in fact very tired and needs removing. The shelter at the Highams end needs a face lift. We have few advertisement hoardings compared with other clubs, about fourteen, should be treble that. Our ground equipment, covers/sheeting are well behind other clubs.


The tea room  and ladies section do a great job for the club, the refurbished lounge is inviting, if underused. The committee room and changing rooms need redecorating and re-carpeting. All in all, a lot to redress the clubs decline on and off the field in the last ten years or so. I wonder if we have the personnel. I hope so. Accy C.C. has been in decline for several years, fact. Let's hope that the present unbelievable transformation of possibly becoming Champs instead of Chumps materialises.

League cricket is a struggle, hard work is a must. Nothing comes easy. Even hard work doesn't guarantee success. Things come in cycles, perhaps it's our time to progress. Time will tell. Perhaps Accy never will have a better time to progress than now.

Whilst considering our positive transformation I'm also aware of a lack of interest, awareness and physical support in ensuring that Sunday's home game, (one of the clubs most important games) is played.

You cannot just turn up at 12 noon on the day of the matchand expect to play in adverse weather conditions.

 Throughout the week sheeting needs to be put on and taken off.Sheeting up requires bodies! Close monitoring is needed if the square is to be used for junior matches.

I'll guarantee that Rawtenstall will have their square sheeted up all week for Sat's crucial game with no junior cricket played during this week. At the time of writing , Accy's square is waterlogged. I do understand that from the bottom of the league to potential double winners is a remarkable transformation and success on the field has understandably exceeded the  progress on the ground. New players  have  helped the club  on the field.......more willing workers available would improve the ground.



The Club