Welcome to Hell. That famous slogan was all that was missing from the venue that hosted London Maccabi Vale’s most recent cricket match.
My teammates and I were eagerly anticipating Sunday’s Chess Valley League encounter against Finchley CC – that was until we turned up to the venue at Woodside Park Sports Club.
On arrival it was hard to spot the wicket - never a good sign – but as I set foot on the pitch with some teammates, the colour drained from our faces almost immediately.
The wicket – well if you can call it that – had lots of grass and deviations. It was a dangerous mess and arguably the worst surface I had seen in more than 26 years of club cricket. It really wasn’t what I’d left the wife and kids behind for on Father’s Day.
It gets better, or worse, as the case may be. The outfield needed a good cut, although the ugly new drainage system, that probably works well for the Whetstone Wanderers footballers who use it during the season, made it treacherous to score runs and for fielders alike.
It was fair to say that we weren’t impressed and to make matters worse, we knew that we could’ve been playing at Finchley’s East End Road ground or the equally luxurious Shenley Cricket Centre. With facilities such as these, it’s no surprise that more and more players are being put off playing amateur sport.
Oh, and I haven’t even mentioned the away changing room. We were greeted by a swastika on one of the walls, accompanied by the words ‘Adolf Hitler’. I was shocked when my teammates told me that both were there when LMV played at the same venue 12 months earlier.
Jonathan Freedman, who added some comedy value trying to run up to bowl and avoid the poorly positioned drainage, hit the nail on the head when he said: "I think you’ll need a helmet to field on this."
The main thing is that, fortunately, no-one was injured, despite the odd daisy-cutter and rib-tickler, and we got the job done. Next week Lord’s.
* Spitting is one of the most disgusting things someone can do on a sports pitch so I must congratulate Dean Furman for showing great restraint following an alleged incident during South Africa’s 2-1 defeat against Ethiopia.
The result ended Bafana Bafana’s hopes of qualifying for next year’s World Cup in Rio.
He tweeted: "Absolutely devastated about the result. I’ve seen some things in the game but to be spat in the face by another player is the lowest of the low. Ethiopia no. 20 you are a disgrace to football and your country. I hope FIFA/CAF investigates this matter properly."