A man may fish with the worm that hath eat of a king, and eat of the fish that hath fed of that worm: Shakespeare – Hamlet
Many Blackburn Rovers fans have commented on how bad the Ewood Park playing surface has become over the last few seasons.
Everything seemed to be fine with Ewood’s football pitch until Indian owners, the Venky’s, took control of our club in 2010. Unfortunately this opened up a whole new can of worms and is exactly what the problem was related to. One of their business ideas was to supply Britain’s anglers with a super earthworm imported from India. These creatures are said to be not only tasty to course fish, but are energetic in their reproductive activity and burrowing prowess. Their latter aspect seemed ideal for killing two birds with one stone and was seen as an answer to drainage problems affecting Blackburn Rovers’ football pitch. So thousands of these wriggly creatures were given a new home under Ewood’s hallowed turf.
Unfortunately for the Venky’s, nobody told them about one of Ewood Park’s more unusual customs – where deceased fans asked for their ashes to be sprinkled upon the pitch. Apparently funeral ash not only contains residue of human remains, but also wood from the dearly departed’s coffin. This has caused havoc to those earthworms living under the pitch due to raising alkaline levels in the soil and thereby creating a caustic environment for our little tenants. So it seems Venky’s have made yet another grave mistake.
While wood ash can indeed be used as a soil additive and a compost ingredient – both very much in moderation – it is actually a pretty caustic alkaline (i.e. high pH) material, containing potassium hydroxide (KOH) – sometimes referred to as ‘lye’ (although this term generally refers to sodium hydroxide). KOH is a chemical that will essentially dissolve living tissue. Obviously, wood ash isn’t pure potassium hydroxide – but still, you certainly don’t want your worms exposed to this chemical at all. Many of them will have tried to burrow their way to the River Darwen to escape this caustic soil.
Blackburn Rovers stopped funeral ash being sprinkled on their football pitch some years ago, but any fan wishing to have their ashes interred at our club can contact the chaplain and arrange for them to be sprinkled upon Rovers’ remembrance garden. But too much damage has already been done to Venky’s angling scheme and their earthworms. It rendered them unable to provide their original function. So it seems another of their business plans has gone up in smoke. Rovers fans always knew Venky’s would lose the plot. Let’s hope this is the final nail in their coffin and one day their involvement in our club will also die a death.