A new square at last
I started working at the Bridlington Sports and Social Club ground last year in 2002. By chance, Ian Powell, the Cricket Development Officer for East Yorkshire stopped in at the ground. We had a chat and I told him about the problems I had already encountered with the square. He offered some suggestions of what could be done about it.
After a closer inspection of the ground and noticing the uneven levels, he told me the club could apply for a grant from the ECB but we would first have to get Jon Buddington (ECB advisor) to test the ground and provide a written report, this would cost £250. Armed with this information, I attended the next meeting of the cricket section, presented my argument and they agreed to go ahead with the grant application (John Buddington's report was in my last article).
We removed the top 2" (50mm) of turf and found that the loam underneath was not too bad. The main problem seemed to be where a previous Groundsman had historically re-laid a number of wickets and these were found to be 2" higher than the rest.
After a long day we managed to get the levels right (the contractor was Alan Kettleborough) and we were also fortunate to have Ian Powell from the ECB on site to see where the problems lay at first hand.
The weather was kind to us and we managed to get the whole job completed in three days although it was back breaking. Here is a short diary of the events that happened in stripping off and laying the new surface.
The first job, once the machinery had arrived, was to skim off the vegetation and top 2" of loam. The contractor used a Koro Field Topmaker for this operation and by the end of the day we had a perfectly planed and level surface to work on.
However the Koro machine was very impressive, removing the top 2 inches with great ease apart from the wickets that were re-laid by a previous Groundsman about 5 years ago. These wickets took a little more time to plane off.
The Koro took about 122 tons of material off the square surface, which I used to lay along side the fence where hundreds of gallons of water a day pour through onto the field.
Our last job of the day was to laser level some 2" pipes along four of the wickets in readiness for the next day. These pipes would govern our final levels once the new loam was spread around. Alan ordered the first 25-ton load of loam to be delivered at 7.30am next morning.
I arrived at the ground bright and early at 7 am and prepared everything ready for the first load of loam, it arrived at 7.45 and I had it tipped at the side of the square ready for the start. The loam we used was County G.S.B. It has clay content of 28 to 32 per cent.
Once the wickets were screeded, we lifted the pipes out carefully, and filled and consolidated the channels that were left behind with loam.
The afternoon's work progressed in similar vein, tipping bucket loads of loam in the prepared hole, raking out to rough levels and consolidating as we went. Once we got to the top of the pipe, we screeded off and consolidated for final levels. We worked until about 6 pm, by which time we had nine of the wickets laid. Just after we finished the rain arrived for a couple of hours, it could not have been timed better.
Again an early start, at the ground for 7 am. The third load of loam arrived at 7.30, but I needed to give the ground a chance to dry, as the field was still damp from the overnight downpour. I had to use delaying tactics with the driver to keep him from going on so early, but it's amazing how a welcome cup of tea and a chat will distract a man.
The helpers worked well as a team and the work was completed quickly and efficiently finishing off the final wicket at teatime.
All the pipes were removed and the repairs made, the square was seeded and fertilised and it was time to put it to bed.
It will be nice to work on a decent square next season, as the one I was working on was basically awful. The loam that I put on last year did not bind well and the consequences of this gave me a host of problems this season.
It was obvious that the square had been neglected for a long time and there had been very little aeration for many years.
With all the levels done and the surface prepared, nine 25kg bags of seed were spread. We used a Cebeco County Super mix; this same seed has been used at the oval and is proven to be strong & hardwearing.
I waited for the grass to emerge before I fertilised the square, using two 25kg bags, applied using a pedestrian spreader.
As the sub surface of the square was so hard due to a lack of aeration by previous Groundsmen, the contractor Alan, will be back to drill the square with an Ecosol drill machine in the next month or so to help alleviate compaction and encourage root growth.
The only other job that was left from the square re-construction was the repairs to the football field where the Lorries had driven over to the middle. You can imagine the damage that was caused by laden 40 ton plus vehicles.
My advice to anyone who is having problems with their square is to contact a pitch advisor or someone from the ECB to help advise them on any grant funding that may be available. All I need to do now is find out where I can get a grant for some machines as we were under insured when we were broken into this year and the club have little money available for capital expenditure.
I ought to say that we were one of six clubs in the East Yorkshire area to receive the ECB grant funding to have this work done and we were the first of the six to have the work done because we changed our last home fixture to a neutral venue. It is money well worth spending and should ensure that we can produce better quality wickets and therefore better quality cricket for the years to come.
The cricket club will have to pay 10 % of the total cost, and the overall cost at present is about £13000.