Tonbridge Angels chairman Dave Netherstreet says new pitch drainage will cost club £20,000 after Hampton & Richmond Borough postponement

Saturday 18th January 2020

Today’s Vanarama National League South clash between Tonbridge Angels and Hampton & Richmond Borough was postponed following an early morning pitch inspection at Longmead Stadium deemed the pitch waterlogged.

The club apologised to supporters who were going to attend the game and chairman Dave Netherstreet issued a statement to explain the match didn’t go ahead.

“I have been asked why matches are being postponed at the club when on looking at the pitch there appears nothing wrong with it,” said Netherstreet.

“The main reason is that in a referee’s opinion any pitch must be safe to play on.  It is nothing to do with the club secretary, the groundsman or the chairman as to whether or not a match is played and though we all have our opinions it is solely up to the referee.

“The club is located in a low lying area of Tonbridge and part of it is designated a flood risk by the Environment Agency.

“This does make the pitch very susceptible to periods when there is excessive rainfall over a period of time because the river levels rise and surface water is unable to drain away through the drainage ditches.  When the water cannot drain away via the land drains under the pitch and more rain falls, the surface of the pitch becomes waterlogged and turns into what can only be described as a sodden area of mud which if played on will cause injury to players.

“Whilst the surface of the pitch appears perfect, under the grass and topsoil there is a thick layer of clay which prevents the easy draining of water away into the land drains.

“In normal circumstances any rainfall will drain from the pitch in 48 hours but unfortunately this year the south east has experienced nearly continuous rain since last November and there is nowhere for the water to drain to.

“Some areas of the pitch are worse than others and this could be due to the failure of the pitch drainage or the historic construction of the pitch 40 years ago.  New underground pitch drainage is a possibility and this is being costed but the initial estimate is around £20,000.

“As many of you will see the sports ground in the centre of town is still partially underwater and the (River) Medway is flowing at full bore, so it will be sometime until the water levels return to normal. All we can ask for is some dry weather.”

Tonbridge Angels were in seventeenth-place in the Vanarama National League South table with 27 points from their 25 games before today’s games.

Steve McKimm’s side travel to Billericay Town next Saturday, 25 January (15:00), before hosting their local rivals Maidstone United at Longmead Stadium on Tuesday 28 January (19:45).

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