Borough Park is undergoing its biggest summer maintenance programme for many a year as club volunteers tackle the many jobs that, all too often, have been neglected.
Whilst adhering to Government guidance over social distancing, dedicated individuals have given the ground some tender loving care in readiness for the return of non-league football, whenever that may be.
It is in stark contrast to this time last year when the general view was that Reds had, potentially, played their last match at Borough Park. That was ahead of a temporary move to Workington Town’s Derwent Park ground whilst a new stadium was constructed on the site which has been Reds’ home since 1937.
A few rugby league matches and training sessions were held at Borough Park and it simply wasn’t feasible to ‘close’ the pitch for annual maintenance and recovery.
The whole landscape changed at the end of June when the new stadium project was abandoned and we were left with a pitch in a bad state of repair and a facility that was anything but spectator friendly.
Fast forward twelve months, and the ‘old lady’, aka Borough Park, looks in a far healthier state than she did a year ago.
Recently appointed director, Kevin Aitken, has overseen the maintenance work and he and volunteer, Steve Little, have restored some pride in the club after committing many hours of blood, sweat and tears.
Taking advantage of the superb weather since the last ball was kicked in anger, they have concentrated on outside work and will leave the indoor jobs until later in the summer.
The pitch was given top priority after enduring a very wet winter and was raked, verti-drained, rolled and flattened before a generous dressing of top soil was applied prior to seeding.
The pitch perimeter ‘track’ has been renovated with various layers of 3G strips removed, weeded and levelled with seed applied. A geometric anomaly has been rectified after it was discovered one of the pitch markings was slightly ‘out of sync’.
Although not ready for action, the pitch looked in great condition earlier in the week, especially after the welcome rainfall.
The Enclosure side of the ground has had a general tidy-up and first thing supporters will notice is the removal of the red metal cabin adjacent to the Tony Hopper bar entrance. The unit has served as the souvenir shop for almost two decades but was lifted out of the ground by crane leaving a tidier area for spectators.
Pressure-washing and painting of walls has been carried out in that area and the press and officials seating looks much better.
Many panels have been replaced on the concrete perimeter fence and overgrown grass and bushes removed to the rear of the Popular Side shelter. New fencing has been installed in the south east corner of the ground and more grass cutting carried out near the turnstile block to the rear of the Town End.
Years and years of rubbish and litter has been removed and, gradually, our spiritual home is being restored to its former glory. Even the manager’s office has had a new desk installed and carpet fitted!
There is certainly plenty of red and yellow paint about the place but the work is ongoing and our ‘front line’ workers deserve a pat on the back for taking on the challenge.
All we need now is some football.