Gloucester City AFC's ground ready for 'testing' this week: Alex Petheram, co-chairman of Gloucester City AFC

Written by: Andrew Merrell | Posted 28 July 2020 6:30

Gloucester City AFC's ground ready for 'testing' this week: Alex Petheram, co-chairman of Gloucester City AFC

Good morning, I hope you’ve enjoyed the little videos I’ve done this week on social media… sorry for the slightly dodgy commentary… I’m not sure I’ll get a gig on Talk Sport, but if you want, I’m happy to keep doing these little clips this coming week.

Let me know your thoughts...

This week has been busy and as Soldi are flat out on something like 12 sites over the UK, I’m a little short with on-site management … so much to everyone’s displeasure, I’m now rolling back the years and doing it myself at Meadow Park.

I’ve enjoyed this week, not so much starting at 07:00 and getting home at 22:00 a couple of nights, but we had to get the pitch ready for testing on Thursday… which we did and following some very late nights with Patrick McGurk, lucky he’s better company than his Dad! We got the pitch drainage grit layer completed and the pitch passed the drainage, level and compaction tests.

The level of the pitch is 3mm over 10m … so from end to end that means it had to be, no more than 33mm difference … a pound coin is 3.15mm thick and a 10p coin is 1.85mm thick, so if my maths are correct… that’s less then £9.30 in stacked coins over the whole pitch … sorry Steve, I know you don’t deal in loose change … a £50 note (goggle tells me) is 0.113mm thick, so in your world my old mate, it’s about £14,600 worth of £50 notes stacked, or pink ladies as you call them down your local drinking establishment…

We’ll roll the pitch top dressing again today to get out any footprints etc from the pitch testing company this week.

The floodlights are up… I have no words, just relief! Once the pitch is now laid, they will be commissioned… the heads are remote controlled, so you can make sure light is angled correctly from the ground… they also fold neatly down to the centre of the pitch for maintenance if required.

Lights really have moved on leaps and bounds with these new LEDs … we have 32 lamps on each of our floodlight heads, which are 20m in the air … the lights are slim and very difference from the old school masts at grounds like Cheltenham for example, which require a person to physically climb up… .

The 3G starts next week, the first two weeks is laying the shock pad, so the pitch will look black at first, then green once the carpet in laid. The white football lines are stitched into the carpet and the carpet is liquid fussed (a posh glue) to the shock pad. No other markings are allowed on the pitch under FA rules.

The dugout bases have been installed this week, they are set back from the pitch edge and inline with the main walkways… the players run out in the home end, which is where our dugout is, the away dugout is in front of the bar… this was done intentionally. Anyone that knows me, will be aware I talk about one per cent a lot… in my role at the club, I don’t do anything that will make us score a goal or keep a clean sheet come match day… .

I don’t pick the team, I don’t do tactics and I don’t kick or head a single ball on the pitch … so I feel I can only contribute and add value on one per cent of the result… very small details like this is how that oner per cent is achieved. I genuinely hope that other teams don’t want to come to Gloucester, as they know that our pitch is big, our pitch drains well so will be fast all the time, our dug outs are right on top of our fans etc etc.

These very small details are the one per cent I can control, if we get a problem, which we will, I want to be able to say, that was out of my control … I could have done nothing more, I accept not everything is perfect and yes, I would change things if I had my time again, but we can still change things when we’re back home and the ground is open.

It’s just like buying a new house… you grow into it and change things when you know you’re 100 per cent sure of what you want.

The players steps out of the dressing rooms have now started to be constructed, along with the wheelchair ramp onto the pitch. I’ll get these completed this week along with all the pitch fencing. We had a visit this week from the National League, that went well in truth. He made some good comments around how we can improve the disabled viewing areas with lower fencing at that point to give better views, which I’d forgotten about in complete truth!

Checking the internal areas of the changing rooms, refs room and treatment rooms etc… we arm wrestled over a couple of points, but you all know by now I don’t accept every point I’m told and I fight for everything I feel is right… but in the same breath, when I’m wrong, like I was about the fence height for the disabled viewing, I accept it and move on.

I personally think I’m very simple to deal with, very black and white, but some find it blunt and direct… I just like to deal with things quickly and move forward, as I’ve always got 150 other things to be doing… so I hate going around and around the subject… I’ll change my view on life when you can be half pregnant I guess.

I’m hearing that the league will be announcing a new kit partner for bench wear and balls this coming season, the rumour is it will change from Jako to New Balance from next month … Personally I hope this is true, we get a lot of complaints about the current balls, especially from loan players from higher leagues … in fact, even from lower league teams we play in friendlies and in the cups.

Following the announcement from “Number 10” the other week, I’m also hearing that our league start date will go back to the 03rd Oct 2020… this is to allow crowds into games and a higher number than the current fears. I’m expecting a number of video calls this week on the subject as the fixtures are expected to be released the week after the play off final … put it this way, I’m so confident about this that I’ve delayed our players returning to training.

We were due back on the 1st Aug 2020, but I’ve put this back until the end August now. I expect to announce our pre-season games mid-August 2020, I see a lot of clubs have done so already … that’s clearly up to them, but I personally feel this is a little early for step one and two clubs… remember, it’s all about the one per cent, I don’t want players having an over cooked or under cooked pre-season!

The season tickets discount deal ends next week, so please get yours soon to save a couple of quid! Our opening game attendance is something we are now trying to agree on with the league and relevant safety bodies.

We know it will be reduced due to Covid and the fact we need to undertake a number of games in the new ground to prove the running etc … I expect this to be reduced to no less then 2,000 for the opening times the amount of games, then rising to the designed capacity during the season and once we know what’s happening in the world…  so, things are currently better than I feared.

As I’ve lived at the ground this week, I’m managed to guilt Eamonn and Steve into buying me lunch a couple of times, yesterday Steve and I ate at Spago, a new restaurant by the Premier Inn in the docks. They are going to offer season ticket holders 10% discount I believe if you show your season ticket … it’s the sort of place I expect Mr Warrior sir to wine and dine his other half at, rather than meet Dave Jones for a drinking session before hitting the town, busting out his big box, little box dance moves!

I also need to give a massive and I mean massive thank you today to Elmbridge Supplies in Gloucester… they have offered to give us all the materials to paint the currently blue containers ahead of our painting party… this is massive and that was a circa £5k bill heading our way until they stepped in! I was completely blown away by this offer, thank you so much! Feel free to thank them yourselves:

The love hasn’t ended there this week… Foxmoor Fire and Security are keen blog readers, much like the folk at Elmbridge Supplies, good morning both… anyway, the chaps at Foxmoor have been reading my …. Lets call it trials and tribulations over the floodlights … and having read and giggled at the blog, they made contact this week and offered to install the player filming camera system that I wanted built into the floodlights for free, yep free … Again, feel free to thank them

That’s two completely out of the blue offers, from two companies that have never supported or seen a game at Gloucester before, completely new to football in the City. Elmbridge and Foxmoor have got involved just from this blog, which was started purely as a place for me to rant… thank you for your support.

I personally don’t believe in PR and marketing, I believe in doing the right thing, at the right time, for the right reasons, if you build it they will come type of stuff… this blog now has a massive read number that grows every week… over 24k reads last week… for example … hello Prorum Semper or Spanish Tiger as I know him in Spain… it’s going up and up every week … .

Thank you all! And I failed English (and most things) at school! So… picture my face when this happened … the other week I had a random email from what I thought was a fake account, I deleted it, then I got a couple more… I deleted also … then I had calls to my work, which I still ignored … yep, I don’t trust most things!

Anyway… I checked out the number, names and company and called them back… I can’t say too much more, but I’ve been asked if I fancy doing a fly on the wall documentary at the Club … it might not come off, but from someone with no clue about marketing and zero media training etc to be asked about this, you could have knocked me over with a feather as the saying goes!

Have a great week all, I’m heading to Billericay now next week to meet Dan and his team… need to get my teeth whitened, tan done and hair sorted … ha ha … sorry, this is clearly a joke based on the fly on the wall show “The only way is Essex” … so I don’t want to see a string of complaints.

Stay safe, see you soon “we’re back” …


Alex Petheram is co-chairman of Gloucester City AFC and also managing director of construction firm Soldi. To find out more visit  Gloucester City AFC.

First published July 27.