The Making of Lairds
By Charlie Allan
In the summer of 2002 we had a series of meetings, set up a committee and adopted a constitution. The office bearers were as they are today with the exception of Geoff Harker who was the first treasurer. It is greatly to Harker's credit that he was the only one who seemed to realise the enormity of what we had taken on. He gave us a presentation with pie charts, flow charts on rolls of wall-paper which warned us of all the ramifications, all the pitfalls and all the expense that would be involved. Most thought all our treasurer had done was to shorten the winter. Charlie Allan told one meeting that, if we could get a field, a couple of thousand would make it fit for play. Geoff's estimate was £100,000. There is no doubt about who was nearer.
The first thing was to get a park. The Laird was all in favour and offered the one across the road from his "Methlick Wood" development, or the Butcher's Park which had once held the cattle which awaited slaughter at what is now John Cooper's house. The Butchers Park was chosen despite being by far the more difficult site. If we had known then what we know now we might have been down at Gurgedyke today.
Colin Presly, the farmer of Wardford, agreed to sell his tenancy at a fair rate calculated by the factor Mark Andrew. The rent was set at a dram per annum (as I write we are behind with the rent for 2004) and we had a field. But we certainly didn't have a pitch.
The Butcher's park after rain in October 2002
Alan Low prepared drawings, planning permission was obtained and estimates for making the park into a thing fit for cricket ranged to £184,000. And that was just the start. We had got the bit between our teeth now and the local soil being at the root of Scotland's failure in international cricket because it is too soft, we went for importing the loam from the best quarry in England at a cost of £5000. Peter Johnston from New Deer gave us an estimate of about £30,000 but said that it would likely be less. Ho,Ho, Ho. He started on January 8th 2003. The shingle we were going to load onto lorries to cart off turned out to be solid rock. The only hope was heavy machinery. CJ Dalgarno, Roger Taylor and Les Taylor provided it and all hell broke out in the village.
Support in the village was not unanimous. The chairman had sleepness nights. One Monday he had the police as well as officials from Sepa and two local authority departments after him all at once. There was dubs on the road and stew in the air, as well as the noise of the crusher and the bleeping of the diggers in reverse. He felt like saying, "feels and bairns shouldna see a job half done" or reminding them that you canna mak an omelet without brakkin eggs. But he bit his tongue and apologised...and apologised again.
The wicket was laid in July 2003. Squads of up to seventeen volunteers, not all of them interested in cricket, turned out with their rakes and buckets to take off the stones.
A lot of people helped but I must mention five farmers. Ernie Lee for his help with advice, tractors, diggers, manure and an introduction to the Campmuir people who have seen us through our first season with excellent mowers, well maintained. And Stephen Mackie introduced us to financial backers including Dundas Brothers, the Snowies and through them, Pattersons, who not only put £18,000 of landfill tax our way but rounded it up nicely out of their own pockets. Neil Purdie provided tractors, quad bikes and negotiating skills. And John Catto, tractors and even bent his back. I must also mention Mossie who provided top advice on everything.