Sarisbury Athletic have been left heartbroken after they were forced to move their Southern Electric Premier League premier division bow to Hursley Park.
The club’s Allotment Road ground is currently unplayable after contractors dumped sand on the outfield.
The club are absolutely distraught. This should have been a very exciting time for usDavid Banks
Alton were due to arrive at the venue after David Banks led his team to the division one title last summer.
But what should have been a day of celebration – following tireless work to meet the league’s ground accreditation and net promotion – is now one of frustration.
Despite the contractors insisting the mistake would be rectified in time for tomorrow’s launch, it remains a major concern.
In Sarisbury’s hour of need, Hursley kindly stepped in to loan them the use of their Quarters ground.
Meanwhile, discussions are ongoing with Hampshire about switching next week’s clash with the Academy to the Ageas Bowl’s nursery ground.
After that game, Sarisbury have three away fixtures – during which they hope the problem will be sorted.
But whatever happens, this was not in the script for Banks & Co.
The skipper said: ‘The club are absolutely distraught.
‘This should have been a very exciting time for us – we are playing in the premier division for the first time.
‘All the effort the club has made to get into the premier division. It’s just heartbreaking.
‘You’d accept it a little more if it was our own fault.
‘But you leave it to the professionals, a lot of money is spent on it and it is unplayable. It’s horrendous.’
Sarisbury called in the contractors at the end of last season to extend the outfield to meet the league’s criteria to play in the top tier.
However, disaster struck when the company returned to finish their work last month.
‘We were told it would be ready for the beginning of May and it isn’t,’ said Banks.
‘There was four inches of sand in places. One day we turned up and there were kids making sandcastles!
‘We had to find a gold accredited ground that wasn’t being played on.
‘Hursley Park kindly agreed to let us play there, which is fantastic.
‘If the weather holds out then at least we are playing cricket but the club are tearing their hair out.’
New signings Ryan Burl – a Zimbabwean overseas player formerly with South Wilts – and Ryan Covey, from Liphook & Ripsley, will make their debuts tomorrow.
Verteran bowler Dan Goldstraw has signed up for another season, while Hampshire’s Basil Akram will link up with the club on his return from Loughborough University.
Elsewhere in the top flight, Havant begin their title charge at Ventnor.
Skipper Stuart Ransley is set to hand debuts to South African fast bowler Brad Wheal and former Hambledon all-rounder Cameron Prentice.
Player-coach Pete Hopson said: ‘It’s the same as last year – we want to win every single competition we enter.
‘We have as good a chance of winning the league as in any previous year, maybe even better because we have a more settled team.’
Meanwhile, Burridge welcome Bashley to Botley Road.