It flooded five times at our ground last year, for the third time in the last one hundred and twenty one years. Unfortunately the two other times were in 2007 and 2012, so it’s becoming, regrettably, a much more regular event. The environmental agency yesterday via the hugely informative Dave Throup, reported the highest pressure over the UK since 1957 – which I’ve recently learnt means, a period of dry, calm and quite cold weather. A deluge of water and now frost on the outfield amidst glorious sunshine. So there’s lots of things on (and off) the pitch to deal with at WCCC.
We are dealing with things very well at WCCC, perhaps better than we ever have. Whilst we get used to more flooding, it has galvanised the doers and leaders at our club. Three areas manage floods, Groundstaff led by Tim Packwood, Stadium led by Paul Phillips/Christian Hewitt and Catering with Scott Fuszard/Liam Bradford. When it happens, every one rolls their sleeves up and gets on with things. With over 70 years experience managing the process at WCCC, in the last three months they’ve collectively formulated clear flood policies, with clear expectations of who does what and when. All with the sole aim of mitigating our risks and to make sure, as we do, that we are open for business – always – come shine or plenty of rain. It’s fair to say all employees have been challenged and they’ve pleasingly risen to it. They’ve never been so co-ordinated, empowered to make decisions and use their experience to good effect.
We’ve flattened structures at WCCC, promoted from within, hired externally and given people more responsibility. That’s how we now do things at WCCC, and that’s how we cope with near term challenges and huge long term opportunities.
The challenge for the next 95 days is to make sure we are ready for first class cricket at WCCC. Our first red ball game is against Sussex on 25th April 2020. We are confident, in the absence of any more substantial flooding in March, that we will be ready and in as good as shape as we have ever been. Lots of internal debates ensue with experts as to what approach to take, reseeding, additional lighting. There’s some relief that the seeding of the wickets has shown resilience and is still evident despite the downfalls. Tim Packwood and his team are confident we will be ready for our first game, if we are not, we of course have a backup plan.
The opportunity for us is to improve our facilities and make us more sustainable is a large one. We hope to announce plans to expand shortly this year, improved disability access, a permanent shop, a museum to show case our immense heritage, classroom space and an expanded gym for our players, Academy and Pathway talent. All above the flood plain and all fully funded. We also have ambition to develop Phase 3 in 2021 and beyond- connecting the Graeme Hick Pavilion and the View. We have this and so much more to be excited about…the Sun always rises.