Rubber crisis in Paddock!

The All weather facility in the Paddock has generally been a great success. It has been in constant demand and is heavily used.  However, this very success has caused some worrying issues. Any player or parent of children who train in the Paddock will attest to the headache of trying to sweep up that which is deposited on floors all around South County Dublin after training sessions in the Paddock – rubber nodules! Particularly on wet days this can be a major headache, much more annoying than crumbs in the bed or slugs in your cabbage patch. And the darn things do seem to find their way into the most unlikely (and uncomfortable!) of places!

While this may be an irritation for parents and players alike, it is actually becoming a serious problem for the club.  The rubber nodules are a vital component of the playing surface and help to generate conditions as close as possible to the “real thing”. This is the true value of the facility.

Worryingly, recent measurements taken in the Paddock suggest the surface is subsiding – or rather its volume is decreasing! Comprehensive research has determined that the synthetic grass fibres are still, more or less, intact. The underlying surface and infill is also solid. This has led to the conclusion that the issue lies (no pun intended) in the slow but steady erosion of the rubber nodules from the surface over time.  It’s hardly likely that anyone is sneaking in and removing them on purpose and,  in any event, any parent will confirm where the problem lies – at home on the floor of the kitchen, under the stairs, in the boots of cars or wherever else we leave boots and training gear.

The problem has been identified as one requiring immediate and urgent attention by the club's Grounds Committee. A special working group has been set up to address the problem and they are already bouncing some possible solutions around.  A spokesman for the Nodule Working Group (Tom McIn tyre) outlined that a comprehensive and definitive solution may take some time to implement and may well stretch into  next year.  Among the possible solutions being considered is the application of a special adhesive on the surface to “bind” the nodules so that they will be less likely to (literally) come away on boots;  the provision of a rubber-repellent membrane which can be fitted to the base of boots so that the nodules stay where they belong and a prototype vacuum machine, which can be fitted under a grill at the entrance to the paddock, is also being considered (this machine would automatically remove nodules as players walk over the grill). These potential solutions, while promising, need to be fully investigated and may prove expensive.   However, he did suggest that some interim measures will be introduced immediately. For example, it‘s planned to request all who use the Paddock to regularly sweep up any nodules which accumulate at home and return them for reuse. “You’d be amazed how much rubber actually accumulates over the course of just a few short weeks, so if everyone made a little bit of effort and separated this vital asset from the generality of what might be swept up it would help us enormously,” said McIn tyre. “In this day and age, when we’re used to segregating our rubbish for other purposes anyway, it shouldn’t be too much of a burden”. Starting from today (1st April) special containers will be fitted outside the Paddock and at the entrance to Glenalbyn House for people to return any accumulated stocks of rubber. In order to encourage participation in this initiative, a monthly prize may be offered to members who return the most number of nodules.