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Football: How Sticker got their game on despite the rain

By Cornish Guardian  |  Posted: February 12, 2014

  • PITCH PERFECT: This is the playing surface at Sticker AFC's Burngullow Park after a week of heavy rain, and before last Saturday's game against Dobwalls. Pictures by John Wood.

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AS the South West felt the force of yet more storms, unsurprisingly many sporting fixtures were hit at the weekend.

Yet again many football games fell to the elements, with only two Carlsberg South West Peninsula League games going ahead – both in the premier division – and only two of the four Cornwall Charity Cup quarter-final ties surviving.

One of those took place at Burngullow Park, home of Sticker AFC.

I'm only a short drive away from the division one west club and when the heavens opened on Saturday morning I didn't think their game against Dobwalls stood a chance.

But arriving at the club an hour before kick-off a club committee member was happy to report to me on the entrance gate that it was game on.

How was this even possible? There were even games in the Football League postponed due to waterlogged pitches.

After noting down the team line-ups I was keen to speak to one of the ground staff to find out the secret behind Burngullow Park's apparent resistance to pretty much any element.

One of those involved in maintaining the pitch at Sticker is Kevin Dowrick.

Along with many other dedicated committee members, including Clive Julian, it was largely thanks to their hard work during the week that the pitch was passed fit by referee George Pattison.

But where ground staff elsewhere tried and failed at the weekend, what is the secret to Burngullow's apparent indestructibility?

Dowrick said: "I don't know if there's any secret but it's always drained very well. It's a natural ground.

"We do look after it well. There are a lot of people who put hours and hours of work in. In the close season we will put sand on it, usually once a year.

"Generally speaking we work on the pitch to the financial limits of the club.

"We feed the grass at the right time of the year too and thankfully we are helped in that it does drain naturally very well.

"The slope (across the pitch) will help, but rather than being a man made pitch it is a natural ground."

The likes of Dowrick and Julian don't get the recognition they deserve, given the time they spend during the week preparing the pitch for a Saturday afternoon.

And as players and supporters come and go after a few hours, Sticker's ground staff work hard around the clock in repairing and making sure the pitch is in good condition for the next game.

Player-manager Andy Avery said: "These boys who come down here, in their own time, are what makes this club.

"Without all their hard work we wouldn't have had a pitch to play on today.

"Some of the lads laugh and joke when they see people out there sorting the pitch out when it's raining and so windy, like it is today.

"They all need to remember that it's thanks to them that we have such a great pitch to play on."

Indeed, many hours have already been put in this week in ensuring the pitch is ready for Saturday's division one west game against Bude Town.

Dowrick, who joined the club ten years ago, when his son Chris (now a teacher in Oxford) played for the club, said: "We are here most days doing various things. There are two of us, sometimes three, working on the pitch on a regular basis, cutting the grass or putting divots back in, weeding and feeding too, and marking the lines."

What does speak volumes is the fact that nobody at the club I spoke to on Saturday could remember when a game was last postponed here.

You do wonder what it would take for a game not to go ahead at Burngullow.

Dowrick added: "It would either be snow, when you couldn't see the white lines or ice, where it would be dangerous. We've probably only lost two or three games in the last three or four games. It is a very rare occurrence.

"The fork is a very useful tool, and lots of spare time."

Disappointingly, all their hard work was to count for little on Saturday as Sticker went down to a 3-1 defeat, ending their hopes of retaining the Cornwall Charity Cup.

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