Second Time Lucky
Well what a wonderful twelve months it has been! It was at this time last year that we attempted to put in some additional drainage around our outfield. We had started the work only to find that the continual rain put paid to any further work until the spring. In fact when I say the spring, the playing season was already well under way before the ground works were completed just prior to the Test match.
With the wettest winter on record and the outfield permanently waterlogged, my hands were tied, so I had anticipated the usual derogatory comments from members, the local press and even the less than complimentary remarks from some of the players. For the most part ignorance is to blame, but it means having to be thick skinned to cope with the abuse.
At the start of this season we lost the first county match against Glamorgan, the four day game against Surrey was also washed out as was the one day match against Hampshire. The weather was so bad and the outfield so wet that I had called off this match a day in advance, something I have never done before. There were suggestions from some quarters that Old Trafford was in danger of losing the Test match. However the wicket was well prepared and also covered when necessary and I was also indebted to Keith Kent at the other 'Old Trafford' when he delivered some rain covers over to us to help dry out the outfield in front of F Stand.
My team set to work on turfing the remaining bare areas in the outfield. We could only use small rolls and worked off scaffold boards because the ground was still to wet to use machines.
Whilst I myself never had any doubts of the Test going ahead, I can tell you that the Test wicket played beyond expectation and I sat in the stand grinning like a Cheshire cat, happy that the dissenters had quietly shut up.
Over the years I have been well supported by the club and following the Test match the rest of the season went pretty well. We also hosted Robbie Williams in concert here with over 160,000 people in attendance over the three days, but that's another story.
We are also digging out and replacing one wicket a season with fresh Surrey loam and I will explain the procedures and reasons for doing this in my next article.