Ian's Ground Diary
April 13th 2014
Being Groundsman for the Lancashire League Champions is a serious business
Ready for another 6 months part time work back at ACC.
Since last September, the winter, although very wet, has not damaged the two junior football pitches on the Huncoat and Higham’s end.
Junior Football is OK on the outfield. I have lightly fertilized both pitches and reseeded bare areas.
A wet winter like we’ve had, will result in moss spreading [spores are spread by water.] Although as the growing season gets going grass growth will be more prominent than the present dominant moss. I can control the moss on the square, but without proper machinery and money to spend on chemicals and time, the outfield is often left to the next “generation”. The priority is to keep the outfield cut neatly and weekly to keep it smooth and weed free and work on from there.
In wet weather worm casts are a problem. In cold or dry weather worms burrow deep in the soil profile and therefore don’t cast . In wet weather they work closer to the surface and cast there. Recent regulations are restricting chemical control on “pests” etc.
The first job on the square after winter is to roll to settle the surface. After frost and winter rain the square will have been softened and lifted. A 5cwt roller is ideal. I use our outfield mower’s roller with the cutters disengaged. With it being a wet mild winter there has been some grass growth, so next I top off the square at 1/2in. After topping off the square a couple of times, whilst there is moisture in the square, is to do about 20 hours pre season rolling with the heavy roller to consolidate and compact the wickets before hopefully a dry summer arrives. Fat chance!! Pre season rolling is done opposite the line of play. All rolling done during the season is done in the line of play .
The machines were serviced by a friendly foreigner. However I again reiterate, we can’t keep patching up old machines. A budget should be put in place or a grant now.. or else “Leave now.. Pay later!”
Another friendly foreigner has loaned me a heavy duty scarifier to thoroughly scarify the square prior to the season’s start. Also I have been loaned a fertilizer spreader to feed the two football pitches and the square.
The “books” tell you to lightly scarify in Spring. My thoughts are .. “Do what you can .. When you can.... and when machinery is available, providing weather conditions are acceptable.”
Groundsmanship is not an exact science and I always say that grass is a “tough cookie”. Plus we are coming into the growing season where recovery occurs. New shoots are produced and the grass greens up naturally. After scarifying I fertilized the square for it to green up by the end of the month. Before the season starts I re measured and squared off the 20 wickets on the square and have remarked the boundary line with weed killer. The artificial wickets will need treatment and re-marking: a light rolling , a moss and weed control and a stiff brushing.
Rod, Willy , Colin ,Phil, Arthur, Ray and Alan have done plenty of work on the re-structuring of both sight screens , painting both metal and wood parts and erecting the new score-board (the old one was blown down in the winter gales).
Several important jobs were completed on the annual clean up day last Sunday. Jimmy organised the work to be done on the day. The main tasks being filling in the holes in the road down to the ground, erecting nets on the 2 artificial frames and putting the net on the movable frame (used on the artificial wicket on the end of the square). Some seating was checked, secured and cleaned.
Thanks to all who helped.
League cricket is a struggle against the odds, the weather, vandalism and money shortages etc.
One thing that ACC has taught me is “Carry on in adversity”. However life is full of pleasant surprises. A good summer, a trophy, also a few laughs are perhaps around the corner as they have been over the last few years.
We have gone from “Chumps to Champs”... “Bust and broke to Solvent” and from having a run down ground and surrounds with poor practice facilities we now have a much improved cricket ground and a healthy junior section. Thanks to all who have contributed.