WITH BILLERICAY TOWN’S impressive new artificial playing surface nearing completion, Yellow Sport turned to the Blues club photographer, Nicky Hayes, for an insight into the ambitious development.
The popular snapper has been present at New Lodge throughout lockdown, documenting progression on the work quite literally from the first day of the process.
“It’s been an incredible three months,” Hayes explained.
“We thought it would be a great idea to chronicle everything from the last day of the grass pitch to completion – the changing face of the ground. Initially, it didn’t seem as if much was happening. The old pitch was removed and the famous and considerable slope had to be levelled as the diggers began work.
“It’s not just a case of out with the old and in with the new. Over the week’s new drainage has been installed plus perimeter walls with the addition of steps down onto the pitch.
“The supporters have been kept up to date with daily posts on our various social media sites. Plus throughout we’ve had a permanent time-lapse camera covering the whole transformation. The feedback has been exceptional.”
Hayes explained how the work moved to the next stage, although at the time the prospects of playing football on the ground appeared a million miles away: “After about six weeks we had a flat surface with two different levels of ground stone making a base for the new pitch. It was a weird view from my base in the media suite. The pitch looked like a beach although, in reality, it was ready for the next stage.
“Recently, things have escalated rapidly. Firstly, the pitch was completely covered in shock pad rubber, turning the surface into a sea of black which looked sensational on our weekly drone footage.
“Most exciting of all, the ‘carpet’ finally arrived – a delivery of 25 4×73
metre rolls – the laying of our new pitch covering was up and running in earnest.
Hayes was clearly taken back but what he’d seen, and indeed, what the football club has achieved in planting a fruitful seed for the community as a whole; “When I left the ground last Friday, I looked down with immense pride as the surface was laid, with all the pitch markings in place.
“We are nearly there and expect our pitch partners SC Slatter to hand it over to us very soon after the obligatory FIFA test certificate is passed – scheduled for next week.
“New goals are to follow. I firmly believe we have the very best 3G playing surface which is testimony to the new owner’s quest to make Billericay Town Football Club a hub of the community that everyone can be proud of.”
Meanwhile, Billericay co-owner, Nick Hutt, added: “These are exciting times for us.
“The ground is looking amazing – we just need some football to complement it. I can’t wait to see the first game with the new pitch under the New Lodge lights.”