The dedicated grounds team at Felixstowe Cricket Club are busy raising standards on the ground at Dellwood Avenue with the help of Dennis equipment, just a year after taking on the management of the pitch along with Felixstowe & Corinthians Youth Cricket Club (F&CY Cricket Club).
Home to two teams competing in the Marshall Hatchick Two Counties Cricket Championship (Feeder League to the East Anglian Premier League) on Saturdays, the club has a link with neighbours F&CY Cricket Club (U9 to U18). This allows them to play a mixture of youngsters and senior players in the F&CY Cricket Club’s Sunday teams, giving the younger players an introduction to senior cricket.
Felixstowe Cricket Club was founded in 1870, moving to the Dellwood Avenue ground in the 1950s and is now shared with Felixstowe & Walton United Football Club. In 2011 the cricket square came under the joint stewardship of Felixstowe Cricket Club and F&CY Cricket Club, who took over responsibility for the maintenance from Suffolk Coastal District Council. There are plans for a Felixstowe Sports Hub which could potentially see Dellwood Avenue as the centre for cricket in the town.
Suffolk Cricket Operations Manager Rob Jones, who also plays for the Felixstowe Cricket Club and is chairman of F&CY Cricket Club, explains: “The youth cricket club is Clubmark approved and is an ECB Focus club, so we were able to apply for Playscape funding to purchase quality grounds machinery equipment to maintain the pitches. Dennis dealers Tomlinsons of Stowmarket are sponsors of the Suffolk Grounds Association and can supply and advise on the best equipment for local pitches.”
The Dennis machines were specified by Ben Connell a club member, previously Head Groundsman for St Joseph’s College before being appointed to the prestigious role as Alan Ferguson’s successor at Ipswich Town Football Club.
Pitch maintenance is down to dedicated volunteers including John Bloomfield, Andy Hopkins, Pat Donnelly and Mike Osborne who have had the task of tackling a long term thatch problem on the pitch.
“We have worked hard on the pitch since taking it over last June, undertaking a programme of scarification, top dressing and overseeding,” comments John.
Key to the routine maintenance programme required to keep the surface in tip top condition is the Dennis FT610, which uses the company’s renowned cassette system to offer a range of implements with just one power unit.
In addition to the cutting cylinder, Felixstowe Cricket Club has a Verticutting reel and brush attachment for the 610mm (24in) working width machine.
“It’s essential to get down into the thatch and rip it out on a regular basis,” explains John. “The Verticutter cassette makes a really good job. I also like to use the brush to lift the sward before just dropping in the mowing cassette and cutting the strip.”
The 16 wicket square at Dellwood Avenue is cut every Friday to a height of 6mm to give optimum conditions for the weekend’s fixtures, and a Dennis Simplex mower with its generous 610mm (24in) cut width helps the groundsmen keep on top of their substantial workload.
“The Dennis mowers are really easy and comfortable to use – swapping between cassettes on the FT610 takes just minutes. They have also proved very durable; as we really do work them hard,” comments John.
“The quality of cut is also excellent, and they are certainly helping us restore Dellwood Avenue to a high standard – we have had some very flattering comments from visiting umpires and even from opponents.”