Sir Ian Botham was the guest of honour at the official opening of the new clubhouse at Fordhouses Cricket Club. The Wolverhampton based club have had a turbulent recent history after losing their long-standing ground at Taunton Road to developers, before finally taking over the old Dowty Boulton Paul Sports and Social Club ground in 2006.
That move instigated an intense round of planning meetings, funding applications and tendering that have culminated in the successful redevelopment of the site.
Howard Clay, himself a cricket groundsman for his local club but, more importantly, an expert in managing capital projects, was seconded to the committee to add his experience. Here, he explains how the project came to fruition.
"In July 2011, the Chairman of Fordhouses Cricket Club, Kevin Threlfall, invited me to join the development committee that was trying to deliver a major project of refurbishing the club facilities as well as improving the external playing areas.
Kevin knew that I had many years experience in the cricket world, including being groundsman at my own club, as well as managing many similar capital projects, and he felt that I could add a level of experience they did not have on the committee.
The background to the project was that the club had previously been given notice by developers to leave their then existing ground and find a new home. A suitable one was found and a Sports Lottery bid was made which did 'tick all the boxes' for sport, community and education but was, sadly, unsuccessful.
The club then agreed a lease with Wolverhampton City Council to take over what is now their current site at Wobaston Road. The site was previously an industrial sports ground, and it was from this base that senior club officials eventually secured Section 106 monies arising from the development work taking place at their old ground. £343,000 was the budget and was given for the creation of new and/or enhanced outdoor cricket sports pitches, including upgrading all of the dressing rooms. The club has also used other funding to modernise the social club part of the premises.
My brief was as follows:
- improve the playing surface of the 1st team square
- upgrade the 3rd team square
- through a tender process, install new non-turf pitches to each square
- extend the existing net facility and improve the security
- recommend and purchase suitable grounds maintenance machinery and equipment
- install an electronic scoreboard
1st Team Square
The square was a typical old works type that had been well looked after over the years by a full-time groundsman, but had gradually deteriorated as budgets for social outlets for employees disappeared off company balance sheets. The square was then left unattended for a period of time. A poor attempt to improve the playing surface was made by Fordhouses CC when they first took over the site a few years ago.
This had the effect of causing undulations to occur, which was unacceptable for the level of cricket being played. The square had nine pitches and a further two that the groundsman was trying to develop.
I invited Steve Rouse, the ex-Warwickshire CCC groundsman, to look at the problem for his advice. After taking a series of levels and soil samples, the conclusion was to have the whole square koroed off. After receiving estimates for this work, the firm chosen was not only successful on price but also able to undertake the work within the time frame the club wanted the work completed by. Woodward Turf Care of Hinckley were the successful company.
The specification was to koro to a depth of 25mm, lightly cultivate, supply and spread Ongar loam and laser grade. Apply pre-seed fertiliser and sew grass seed DLF PM 36 at 40g per sq metre. Fortunately, this work was undertaken in one of the few brief dry periods at the end of the 2012 season, so that a reasonable grass growth was able to establish itself before the rain returned.
3rd Team Square
An old non-turf pitch was taken up and the club groundsman backfilled the void with Boughton Kaloam supplied by ALS, as well as increasing the size of the square by an extra pitch.
Non-Turf Pitches and Security
Club Turf, Sandbach, Cheshire were the chosen contractor who supplied and installed an 'International' non-turf match pitch which was added to the 1st team square. A 'Natural' non-turf pitch was then added to the 3rd team square. A further 'International' pitch was added to the existing net facility. An extension to all the run-up areas was made with their non-turf product and, finally, all of this facility was secured with a weld-mesh security gate and fence.
Grounds Maintenance Machinery
The machinery purchases were made in line with the context of essential, desirable and value for money.
For the pitch, a Dennis FT 610 cylinder mower 9-blade cassette and a verticutter cassette were purchased. Because part of the outfield was used by footballers in the winter, and shaded by trees, this meant there was compaction and extensive moss growth. As the site is quick draining, it was decided that this problem could be tackled at this stage by the purchase of a Greentech Aero-Quick slitter c/w 8" outfield turf tines and a rear roller. The club already had a tractor, which this could be mounted on.
Besides purchasing these items, tarpaulins, sightscreens, spreaders and a boundary rope were also purchased.
My last task was to install a scoreboard. Unfortunately, the local planning department wouldn't allow us to build a traditional type scoreboard as the land was designated greenbelt, so plan B was to have a bespoke board manufactured. We had to install this on the 1st floor level over the dressing rooms. It is a fifteen digits LED digit board, which is controlled by the scorer through a remote radio console. The firm used was Electronic Scoreboard Units Ltd.
I was very pleased to not only get all of these items purchased, installed and functioning for the start of the 2013 cricket season, but also that it all came in on budget."
Howard Clay DMS, FMS, MCMI, Assoc.CIOB. HMC Consulting
Tel: 0121 4773686