The past 12 months have been eventful in many ways not least the extreme winter weather conditions we experienced in December/January; nature may have done us afavour as many sports grounds received some much needed frost heave or naturalaeration, as it is sometimes known.


The condition of the cricket grounds in Cheshire continues to improve as is evidenced by the assessments carried out each week by our dedicated umpires. The harsh winter againmade recovery a little tricky but our groundsmen made light work of it & with a warm dry spring we were rolling out some really good pitches early season.


I would now like to review our activities over the last 12 months.


Training has once again been at the forefront of our work with a Part A course atWarrington CC in March and a Part B course at Toft CC in September. Both of these werewell attended and once again fully subsidised by the CCB. It was pleasing to see themajority of attendees being outside of the County league, perhaps indicating that this is where the hard work is really done!! Our thanks go to the host clubs for their efforts inaccommodating these courses at busy times of their season.


An open meeting was organised in the early part of the year at The Groves CC atEllesmere Port which was very poorly attended despite the presence of 2 very relevantspeakers. It is very disappointing to see the lack of interest in what are topics relevant tohow are sports grounds are maintained.


However on a more positive note a seminar “Groundsmanship for the smaller club” was held at Hawk Green CC & organised by the D&C league. Paul Agar & I held a very lively Q&A session attended by 20-25 people on a range of topics related to the maintenance of  cricket squares & outfields. We also held a similar evening event for members of theCheshire Alliance league at Appleton CC but this was only attended by less than 10people.


Once again this year we have tried to obtain some discounted deals on the supply of loam but it seems only Surrey Loam are willing to come on board. This is a work in progress stillbut we would urge all members to try & get the best deals from their suppliers. The way forward on this is to form user groups around the county & try to get a large bulk order for say 6 or 8 clubs & try to drive the cost down that way.


The collection of subs has been greatly eased as clubs now pay this through their clublevy to their leagues & these are forwarded in bulk to our treasurer but we do need members to keep us u-t-d with their contact details especially e-mail addresses. Under thisarrangement the club is now a member of the CAG & can take advantage of the benefits of membership.


We are hoping next spring to organise a one day seminar PQS; assess your own square.


This is aimed directly at those clubs which have had a PQS assessment in the last coupleof years. It is intended as a direct follow up to support the recommendations of the originalreports and allow those groundsmen to monitor the progress of their square against thegiven set of standards. having said that it will be open to all clubs who think they will benefit. It will be run by Martin Ford (Fine Turf manager ECB) & Len Smith (former Glamorgan CCC head groundsman). The CCB & ECB are very keen that this seminar is attended by ALL clubs who have benefitted from this ECB initiative.


The proposed trip to Old Trafford cricket ground was well received by our members butdue to access problems in the autumn this has been re-arranged for early spring tocoincide with the start of pre-season works on cricket grounds around the county


Finally we are well provided for in terms of machinery available for clubs to use but we feelthat another scarifier (probably a Sisis 600 or similar) would be beneficial. The auto seedergets very little use & can be sold for a small loss & together with our own funds we shouldbe able to purchase a decent second hand machine. In this way we are putting your subs to good use!! The aerators are being used already which is a very good indication that oureducation programme is slowly having an effect


To conclude I must thank my fellow committee members for their continued diligence & support. If any other member would like to make a contribution we would be pleased towelcome them on board!! Our thanks also go to the 4C's & CCB for their continued support both financially & administratively.


Merry Christmas & a Happy & Prosperous New Year to you all!!