Club awakening at West Bridgford
By Dave Saltman
The facility at West Bridgford in Nottingham caters for rugby and cricket. The ground is owned by the Old Scholars Association, but these days it is run by the Sports Club committee consisting of members from both the Rugby and Cricket sections.
The club used to employ the local authority to cut the outfield and rugby pitches, but prices started to spiral, so the decision was made to do the job 'in house'.
The club plays host to five senior rugby teams and a youth structure from under 19's down to under 8's. What's worse is the floodlights centre around the 1st team pitch so all the training in the winter is focused on the pitch as well.
Just in case you thought that this wasn't enough; to raise money, the club hold three bank holiday car boot sales a year to raise extra funds.
One of the other problems is vandalism, the kids from the local estate tend to wander down in the evenings and mess about. The club have just invested in some new nets, but these are already being pulled apart. David said ' We would have liked to extend our investment to higher quality artificial playing surfaces and netting but the ongoing problem of vandalism to the net facilities has been a major drain on club finances'
Over the years there has been little investment in the playing surfaces, the ground is heavily compacted and grass struggles to survive. There is no irrigation, with the exception of a watering point by the square, so in the summer the ground becomes rock hard.
The only real survivors are the weeds, which are heavily infested on the pitches. The club decided that they had to spray the weeds in the areas that make up the cricket outfield, and there has been some improvement since this operation, however the cost became prohibitive to do the rest of the field so it wasn't done.
The club recognise that there needs to be more investment to improve the playing surfaces, and much of this is due to the fact that the junior players have tended to migrate to other clubs with better quality pitches as they get older.
The investment will be two fold, firstly in the equipment available for David to use to maintain the facility and secondly with the budgeting for spring and autumn renovations. The cricket section tends to spend some money on their end of season renovations of the square. There is Surrey Loam on order and the square will be scarified and seeded before dressing in the autumn.
The rugby pitches have received much less attention. Now that the ground has gone hard, it is rutted and provides a less than acceptable surface for the cricket outfield. David said 'the committee now realise that improvements need to be made. We are looking to implement a plan of action for the next few years. This will include regular aeration, annual over sowing, fertilising and top dressing. Once this work starts we should see almost immediate improvements to the playing surfaces. I hope that once the improvements are there for everyone to see, pitch investment will continue to be top of the agenda.'
The club have an application in to the lottery and apart from some new changing rooms, plan to install an irrigation system, using a holding tank, pumping station and travelling sprinklers.
With West Bridgford taking steps in the right direction, there is renewed hope that the improvement in surfaces will encourage the kids to stay on with the club into adulthood.