John Kettley is a Weatherman
In the build up towards the autumn Internationals I agreed a contract with Sports and Stadia Services to provide a pitch cover if the weather became so inclement. I met and spoke with Nigel Felton who of course used to bat for Northampton cricket club and was a very good batsman indeed. The service is used by a number of leading rugby and football clubs.
I saw it as an insurance policy and peace of mind. I hope that I never have to use Nigel and his men but if we were to have a spell of either wet or cold weather I would be in a position to call in Stadia Services. The last thing anyone would want would be an international game to be in any doubt.
Part of the service provided was an up to date weather forecast. This was to be supplied by the one and only Mr John Kettley.
As arranged 5 days prior to the game an e-mail arrived with all the information on it for the rest of the week up to and including match day itself. So armed with this useful information you could start to plan your week ahead.
Now we all call the weather man at some time or another and you do wonder sometimes if they know what day it is never mind what the weather is going to do !
Well I have to report just how accurate John Kettley was.
On the Saturday morning of the Australia game we were shrouded in thick fog. I was in early and it was so bad you could not see across the pitch. The dew was so heavy we intended to drag a brush by hand across the grass just to remove the water off the leaf.
We held off though because it was so damp.
I waited until 9am and there was still thick fog inside the stadium. I decided to ring and speak to John directly. He said he was in Bedfordshire with his children and it was very misty where he was as well. I asked the question " Is this fog going to lift?"
"Oh yes it will lift alright, give the sun time to burn the damp off and you will kick off in nice autumn sunshine," he said.
Well I stood there unable to see my assistant, Ian Ayling across the pitch, I did begin to wonder!
We did brush the pitch and then as if by order the sun came out at about 12 noon. We kicked off in lovely bright sunshine.
Fluke I hear you say.
Well let me tell you. The very next Saturday after heavy over night rain I rang John again and asked if it would clear up at all?
" Well there are a few showers about and you should have a really heavy one at about 10-30ish and maybe, only maybe another just before lunch time but after that you should be okay" Said John.
Sure enough at 10-45am ( you can't get much nearer than that) it poured down. It was pouring for about an hour and then blew away. At lunchtime it did threaten to rain but it never did. Instead dark clouds rolled past the west stand.
On their arrival the England coaches asked me if there were to be any more rain between now (1pm) and the end of the game. I told them there was a chance of a shower at anytime. They asked me if I could get an update nearer kick off .
So at 1-45pm I rang and asked John again.
"Give me five minutes and I will ring you back" he said.
True to his word he rang me back " I don't think you will even see a shower now, there are some showers in Hampshire and Dorset but they will be no problem to you before the end of the game" He went on " If you are unlucky you may get a short sharp shower just after the game has ended but you will be really unlucky to see one before then".
I thanked John for his trouble and said he had been a great help.
The game kicked off in sunshine. Cloud did roll in early but not enough to give us any rain. The game finished without any further rain at all.
My staff and I were divotting the pitch afterwards when the skies opened and the rain lashed down ! Less than 5 minutes later it had stopped !!!
So the only people to get wet were the Ground staff !
I have to hand it to John, he is brilliant. To give such a forecast and it to be right with timings thrown in as well is just unbelievable. I only hope that when I ring him one day and he tells me to start building the Ark, he is completely wrong!