Building a view from the stars
Those happening upon Somerset Cricket Club grounds in the build-up to Cup Match would have borne witness to an active construction site, with the associated noise of hammers clanging on metal, torque drivers whirring while workers affixed sheets of plywood to create platforms on a web of scaffolding, the pop of a lawnmower rolling upon the lush, outfield grass and silent but effective brush strokes coating the outer and inner walls of the historic West End institution.
As host of this year’s Cup Match Classic on July 28 and 29, the club has again been transformed from a run-of-the-mill establishment to a bona fide stadium, replete with luxury boxes, refreshed bleachers and a pair of upgraded, computerised scoreboards, which allow spectators to track scoring in real time.
While many middle-aged and older veterans of the midsummer affair would well remember the days of wooden, single-floored “camps” constantly creaking, while suspect multistorey structures were precariously swaying, the advent and use of the Ringlock Scaffolding System has allowed camps to morph into luxury-styled boxes of more secure and uniformed dimensions — increasing both the participating clubs’ earning potential via sales, as well as providing greater viewing pleasure and comfort.
Bermuda Scaffolding Co Ltd has slammed together some $2 million of metal, completely wrapping Somerset’s grounds, where thousands are expected to descend.
“They are luxury boxes,” said Glen Taylor, who since 2007 has been charged with making all the right connections. “It’s the way to watch Cup Match. Everybody wants camps now. You don’t want to be walking around in the heat and once you’re off the ground on these first or second levels, you get bit of a breeze, so it’s pretty good.”
However, it’s not just Taylor, as he noted that such a dynamic set-up would not be possible without a dedicated team of workers spending many hours placing the materials in proper order.
“We did have a small crew of eight of us this year working steadily,” explained Taylor of this year’s effort. “The guys do put the hours in and do the heavy lifting; without them you couldn’t do Cup Match, so it’s a team effort, really.
“We started this early in the year. We touch base with the club or they touch base with us to tell us, ‘Cup Match is a go’, which the last couple of years has been a little unsure. And then we start dropping material off mid-April, once other jobs start coming down — because we do use it for commercial projects in the industry, rather than just store it for this job. In the middle of May, we start building. We lay out the foundation because we have to find out where it all goes. We don’t remember from year to year, so it’s best we lay it out and let things settle down as well and then we work our way around the ground.
“Once it’s set out we start building up in sections, and basically, just over the weeks we gradually spend more time here.
“To begin with, we just come here evenings, but after the first month, once we get into late June, early July, we have to be here full time.
“The plywood would show up late June, first week of July. It’s over a thousand sheets of plywood, so, obviously, it takes a lot of screwing down, laying down and it progresses from there.
“We like to try and get it finished a week to two weeks prior to Cup Match, but that’s not always the case.”
This year the erection was completed bang on schedule, with approval from structural engineers and field inspectors, relative to safety.
“It’s obviously looked at by engineers,” Taylor added, while enjoying the view from the second deck on the eastern side of the field. “A few inspectors come around and check on it and give recommendations on what we should do, which we follow as much as what we can.
“Over the years we’ve had no real issues with the scaffold, so as far as I’m concerned it’s stable and sound.”
All that remains is for the fans to fill them, as the umpire signals the first ball to be bowled.