NEWPORT County’s latest attempts to beat the weather will be examined tomorrow morning when they take the frost covers off the pitch at Rodney Parade, writes Michael Pearlman.
The Exiles are desperately keen Friday’s clash with Fleetwood Town (kick-off 7.45pm) goes ahead after four successive scheduled home clashes fell victim to the weather.
Wales and England have had more January rain than in any year since 1757 with the west particularly effected, meaning five of Newport’s past six clashes have been away days.
The Exiles have endured difficulties at Rodney Parade – a facility shared with the Newport Gwent Dragons and tenants Newport RFC – since work to improve the drainage of the playing surface was started, but not finished, this summer.
County’s chief executive Dave Boddy led a group of volunteers in covering the pitch on Tuesday evening, shortly after Newport RFC’s narrow loss to Aberavon.
The results will be examined this morning before an inspection of the surface, which Newport hope to do in the early afternoon.
“We will take the cover off around 8am so the staff can work on the pitch and then will request the referee for as early as possible,” a County spokesman said.
“We hope we can get the game on though, obviously.”
The Argus understands Fleetwood travelled down yesterday, so there is no chance of a morning inspection before they set off from Lancashire.
County chief executive Boddy has already heaped praise on the fans that helped out in an effort to get tonight’s game on.
“It was my initiative to get the covers on because the forecast is horrendous,” said Boddy.
“We had 14mm of rain on Tuesday night and another 6mm on Wednesday morning and we’re getting pumps in now to get that water off the top of the covers.
“We’re hopeful that it will give us a chance of getting Friday’s game on because we can’t afford to lose another fixture.
“The Football League has written to us with their concerns and I’d really like to thank the volunteers who helped out with the covers.
“I was out there and it was horrific conditions,” he added. “We got soaked but it was a phenomenal effort and showed the spirit of the fans at this club.”
Mark Jones, head of operations at Rodney Parade, admitted he’s unsure if the covers will make much of a difference.
“I never envisaged we’d have this amount of rain,” said Jones. “I’ve been working here for 28 years and never known anything like this,” he told the Argus.
“There would be lots of pitches struggling with one team, let alone three playing on it.
“There will be as much water underneath the covers as there is on top so we we’ll see how it looks when we take them off on Friday morning.”