The Diaries of Dangerous Dave The Groundsman, is a blog by Dave Appleby the in’s and out’s of two weeks of his pre season preparation. Committee meetings, pre season rolling, balancing home life and much more!!
Write a blog Brian said…it will be fun he said… (well…SECRETLY…I’ve always wanted to be a journalist)
A little background work before I start: –
I have been involved (since playing at under 13 level) at a small village club playing in the South Notts Cricket league, voluntarily taking over from the previous groundsman who retired at 83. The team mate who was assisting me first season then left to play at a higher level a season later. So, all on me then now and my family who all help me big time. Oh, and did I mention I’m Saturday League captain (in my 20th season). That explains the grey hairs.
My Brother – my 3/4/5 square corner locater, machinery mechanic and general go-to man.
My daughter Lily, 11, who loves mowing her own wicket. Favourite mower Allett 20 Shaver (she calls Alice)
My step daughter Lexi .13, my groundsheet installer, wheelbarrower of grass, chief fetcher.
My mum. Weed puller and much needed refreshment supplier. Nothing better than one of her cuppas after hours down the ground.
Occasional help from the club – Tango and Phil (secretary and treasurer)
And best mention my partner Toni who really hates cricket and tries to tolerate me living down the ground most nights from April to September.
Saturday 27th March– Meet Jonno who has kindly fetched a mobile cage from a local club, that can be constructed Prep Day. Throw it in the tractor shed for today, rotary cut the grass (2 x wheelbarrows full) and drag mat the opposite way. Few worm casts and looks a bit sorry for itself (yellow) but a mini heatwave forecast Tuesday/Wednesday.
Sunday 28th March – Online committee meeting was not very productive. Guy who lost in the vote for Chairman at the AGM seemed to spend most the night arguing against the Chairman on every item of the agenda.
Tuesday 30th March – Help another local club try to locate a fixture on twitter and then somehow manage in a moment of stupidity, end up being that opposition, and worse it’s at our ground (our first home game wasn’t scheduled until May 15th!) Me and my big mouth. At least with lockdown, availability at our club is amazingly high!! Snow is forecast next week though.
Evening – Nottinghamshire grounds association pre-season webinar. Always great to spend an hour chatting about tips and advice at much bigger and more organised clubs. Spend rest of night randomly looking at groundscare machinery I can’t afford; the club won’t let me spend money on or have room in the shed for anyway.
Thursday 1st April – Day off work. Bomag 120 Roller on hire for the day. Football club had it first giving me chance to get the square down to its normal HOC of 12mm using cylinder mower for first time. It needs a feed and has got a few weeds to sort, but it’s not in bad condition for April.
Rawhide time, diagonal, sideways then finishing on the way we play. Jeez its cold today, l get a call from Plant Hire saying he can’t collect roller today. Have to cram in tractor shed like a game of sardines, shifting mowers left and right. Evening relaxing night watching Lily’s first training back at rugby, 10,000 steps easily achieved for the day.
Friday 2nd April – Club Ground Prep Day. 10am – 4. The 3/4/5 string fairy has been early and left me front and back lines all officially squared up, happy days. Roller not been collected yet so sneak a few more passes on the early tracks. Got the Sisis Lawnman out and rake /brush next Sunday’s track. Make up a Pre-Germination box of seed and loam mix ready for bowlers footholes.
Guys get the covers out and fold them up a little nicer than they have been left through the winter. A few mouseholes right on a length!!! Get old Ransomes gang mowers out the back of the shed, take photos and put up for sale on various machinery sites as council finally agree to sale (they own 50% and if we can get 400 quid it’s our council rent for the season paid for)
Saturday 3rd April – Rest day as footballers are having a friendly so won’t be able to get near the ground. See a Bowdry Mark 2 on Facebook Marketplace. Enquire location but decide against.
Sunday 4th April – Lily again at rugby in the morning. Plan what jobs l will get done.
Rake, brush, mark stump holes out on each track.
First use of Allett mower since servicing, cuts a treat. Always been a trouble taking it from 12 mm only the square mower height down to pitch height of 6mm. The club won’t let me buy a mower just to fill that gap although doesn’t stop me looking for that bargain on all the Facebook sites, Ebay, Auto trader etc. Lawnman to rake and finally brush. Sun comes out just as I leave the ground, typical.
Monday 5th April. Another hour raking and brushing the two opposite end wickets (tracks 1 and 11 on pitch plan if you are interested). Apart from a black moss patch on one they look ok for April, bloody cold today. Lily is with me so she is chopping with her mower (Alice, she calls her) and I’ve got Webb (or Wendy !!) for cutting the square.
Tuesday 6th April. Must be Cricket season as got every different weather possible today. Rake and brush and clean up with Alice. Pulled a few weeds on adjacent tracks. And even gave it a little water as starting to crack with these crazy winds. But driving home it’s blizzard central.
Friday 9th April. First outdoor training down the ground, well for some. A decent turn out considering the cold weather. I mow the square in wicket block stripes. Actually get a few compliments about the square from teammates, collapse in shock. New cricket bag arrived, time to dig out whites!!!
Saturday 10th April.
Final brush, rake and Alice clean up. Not quite the straw like colour Nat West Pitch Doctor says a wicket should look like but fairly happy for first wicket. Got three weeks before next home game so hope to get some fertiliser on. Snow shower forecast for tomorrow. Ian Dade from a bigger local club pops over to say hi. Always good to exchange ideas and discuss highs and lows of being a groundsman.
Never enjoy the actual marking out side of groundsmanship. Wish someone would learn that side….
Sunday 11th April. Pre-season friendly. So, a lot earlier than actually planned a wicket but doesn’t actually look too bad considering the low temperatures. 35 overs, end up fielding first and for some reason I end up in the covers. I’m 46 you know. Drop the usual early season catch ( they really hurt in April when not done any fielding ….) Bowl ok and kick at some weeds in between overs.
Get a sneaky 40 not out chasing 210 down last over. Quick brush after the game to clear up the debris. Will flood it Tuesday. A few kept low but really happy with how it played, got a month before next home game might stop aching by then.
THAT’S ALL FOLKS!!! A fortnight in the life of a lowly village groundsman with limited budget and indifferent machinery. Hope an insight into my world was worth reading.
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Hi, really enjoyed Dave’s piece. Very true and down to earth. Said it like it is. Very little equipment and help but gives up all his spare time free of charge.
Would love to have a regular contribution.
One of the brotherhood.
cheer Phil . when Brian asked me to write a blog I laughed saying no one would find our lowly standard of any interest so appreciate that. That’s the good thing about this groundsman group we all advise and help each other… even the more professional guys ..
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