Burst banks at Bradford and & Bingley
by Paul Markham
Just over 12 months ago Bradford and & Bingley's sports complex was under water following the worst flooding in the Aire Valley for some 30 years.
It was a frustrating time for the Bradford League's only full-time professional groundsman, but Paul Markham came through this difficult spell and has enjoyed a much less eventful winter this time.
Paul looks after one of the biggest cricket pitches in the league as well as three rugby union pitches on either side of the River Aire, which burst its banks following excessive rain in the autumn of 2000.
Paul said: "Last winter all three rugby pitches and the cricket pitch were under water and the rugby pitches were out of action for three months and they had to be fumigated by the local authority before they could be used.
"I was worried about silt remaining on the cricket pitch after the water receded and I was ready to seek advice from the Worcestershire groundsman whose pitch is regularly under water during the winter.
"Fortunately our pitch recovered in time for the new season and our 'nightmare' did not materialise.
"In the event, the pitch played well during the season and there was a true bounce, which is what you want from a cricket pitch.
"The square was in good order apart from two strips where some of the grass seeds had got washed away.
"So, we did some re-seeding using germination sheets just before the new season began.
"Another problem was that water got into the working parts of all our machinery which meant new engines were needed and extensive repairs required.
"In addition, we had a 30-year-old tractor that was coming to the end of its working life. Fortunately, we got a new tractor to replace it.
"It was a John Deere model, size 4300, manual gear drive, an ex-demonstration model which had done only 44 hours work.
"We bought it for £11,500 which, in the circumstances, was a good buy.
"As well as the damage to the pitches, the floods devastated the clubhouse with damage running into six figures.
"Photographs and cabinets had to be removed, decorations and carpets were ruined and the clubhouse was closed from the end of October 2000 to the beginning of April 2001, which, of course, meant a severe loss of trading with functions being transferred to other venues.
"The clubhouse looks well and it is busy again following a major refurbishment, but it was a horrific time for us all."
"The square stood up well to a busy cricket season with first and second team matches in the Bradford League, a range of junior matches from under-11s to under-17s, a Yorkshire second team one day match against Durham and a two-day Yorkshire under-17s match at the end of July.