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The pitch at The Halcyon Wealth Longmead Stadium

Head Groundsman and Director Pete Elves operating a de-compactor to break up clay subsoil 03.02.20. Photo by Steve Churcher

Frustration felt by postponements

Yesterday’s (1st February vs Wealdstone) postponement was very disappointing and frustrating to all of us from both clubs but referees have to make decisions without fear or favour based on the situation as they see it and also taking into consideration comments from both club’s representatives. 

Should the club have made an earlier pitch inspection?  Hindsight is a wonderful thing but the fact is that by first thing yesterday morning conditions over the previous 24 hours had improved dramatically and combined with a good weather forecast of sunshine combined with a gentle breeze it was anticipated that conditions would further improve through the morning to allow the match to be played. In any event a decision to go ahead at 9:00am might still have been overruled by the match referee at 1:30pm leading to equal amounts of frustration. 

The match referee arrived just after 1:00pm and carried out an immediate and thorough inspection and identified certain areas where the ground was still extremely soft and on which the ball was failing to bounce.  Following consultations with representatives from both clubs he took the decision at 1:30pm to postpone the game, as despite the best efforts of Pete Elves and the ground staff, in his opinion the pitch in some areas did not meet the requirements for staging a National South fixture.

As you will all know this is the fifth occasion that we have had to postpone a game here at The Halcyon Wealth Longmead Stadium with the situation that since mid December only one home fixture has been played.  That situation is clearly unsustainable to the club and of course affects our ability to compete effectively in the league and devastates our financial position. 

We can of course all hope that the weather takes a turn for the better and that will obviously help but there is absolutely no guarantee of that and we have no control of that situation. So decisive action of our own has to be taken to improve conditions. 

This week thanks to the generosity of a parent of one of the players a camera survey is going to be undertaken under the surface of the pitch to understand whether there are any blockages within the drainage system or indeed whether any of the drains have actually collapsed.

In addition Jordan’s, pitch specialists who incidentally look after Dartford and Dulwich Hamlet will be hiring out to us a de-compactor which is a piece of machinery that it is hoped will break up the clay subsoil to improve the drainage.  The cost of the hire is being met by a benefactor to whom once again we are extremely grateful. 

It is to be hoped that these relatively quick fixes will help or even solve the issues and on the subject of quick fixes it may simply be the ditches in North Farm that need clearing and these are being attended to tomorrow (3rd February).

In the longer term we are continuing to look for more permanent solutions and it may well be we will have to move to a more substantive approach but these will cost money and that will provide something of a challenge for the club.

Our picture shows shows Head Groundsman and Director Pete Elves operating the De-Compactor as described above.  Photo by Steve Churcher. 

Published Sunday 2nd February 2020 (last updated Tuesday 4th February 2020)