Ilkeston Rutland ground improvements delay

Oakwell Drive
By Colston Crawford
March 23 2003

Ilkeston Rutland are facing up to the fact that they cannot use their home ground in Oakwell Drive at least until the middle of May. That is when work on the cricket ground end of Erewash Borough Council's 4.5m Sport Erewash development on the Rutland Recreation Ground is scheduled for completion.

Until then, the club will not have access to either the pitch, outfield or the pavilion, which has had its stepped terracing removed as part of the refurbishment work. The club say they were also astonished to see that the old white scorebox on the opposite side of the ground to the pavilion had been demolished.

Other parts of Sport Erewash project are running over schedule after delays caused by excessive winter rain, with Ilkeston's annual Lions Carnival one event that has already had to be cancelled.

The cricket club are upset that at least three home Derbyshire Premier League fixtures are under threat. "It's proving to be a very difficult situation," said Ilkeston Rutland captain Martin Brandrick. "At the end of the last cricket season, the ground was fenced off and we can't get near it. We are going to have to find somewhere else to play at least three games and it will damage us financially, as we will lose all the bar takings for at least a month.

We've been told we won't be allowed on the ground until May 16 at the earliest. But there is no guarantee that it will be ready by then. This doesn't just affect us. Derbyshire themselves use the ground for some of their sides, as do local schools in the Ilkeston area."

Ilkeston Recreation Ground
Ilkeston Recreation Ground before the alterations were made during the winter of 2002/3

Brandrick maintains that, in initial discussions with the council, the cricket club was led to believe that its activities would not be affected. But Geoff Cooke, the council leisure services head, who is project director for the Sport Erewash development, insists that the cricket club has always been aware that May 16 was the scheduled completion date for work on the ground.

"I hope when it's finished the cricket club will see that it will have been worth the wait," said Cooke. "I'll turn somersaults to make sure they end up with better facilities and the work on the top end of the ground will be finished on schedule."

He maintains that work on the pavilion was long overdue. "It's been there since about 1925 and has had virtually nothing done to it," he said. "Now it's getting a complete refurbishment, with new toilets, new showers and new changing rooms."

The scoreboard, a landmark at the ground, appears to have been sacrificed so that building work at the ground complies with a covenant set when the Duke of Rutland originally handed over the land in the 1920s. This states that buildings cannot cover more than one-twentieth of the overall site and the council's view was that a more useful building than the scoreboard could be provided.

"But it was also out of date and a target for vandals. It was being broken into almost every week," said Cooke. He says that an electronic scoreboard will now be provided for use in the pavilion itself.

The council has offered its Gallows playing fields as an alternative venue for cricket, while the work continues early in the season. But the club's problem is that the facilities at that ground do not meet Derbyshire Premier League standards and they are now looking into the possibility of a temporary ground share arrangement with another local club.

Colston Crawford reports for the Derby Evening Telegraph where this article first appeared. For more local cricket from Derbyshire's premier local newspaper, click here.

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