BLEC Multivator keeps Tooting and Mitcham FC pitch on top form

Mike Beardallin Industry News

Richard Ede on his Tooting and Mitcham FC pitch with the BLEC MultivatorHead Groundsman Richard Ede has struggled to keep his pitch at 'The Hub' in Morden up to scratch with a total of 130 games played in the last season,

Home to Tooting and Mitcham FC - mid-table in the Ryman League - and to Chelsea Ladies First Team in the Women's Super League, the club has little resource for equipment and relies on contractors for pitch renovation.

Contractor Bill Ellis used the BLEC Multivator 2.1metre heavy duty model to carry out end-of-season renovation - decompacting, recycling and topdressing all in one pass, after Richard had spread 90 tonnes of sand and overseeded with a ryegrass mix.

The rotating tines of the Multivator cuts grooves up to a depth of 250mm, takes out the rootzone, and a following brush puts the recycled material, plus the sand, back into the grooves leaving a clean finish.

Said Richard: "The results have been amazing and we are delighted with the result.

"I applied 90 tonnes of sand a few days ago (June 8) and this has helped with the surface conditions, but drainage is a big problem because we only have gravel banding and a pipe around the edges. With the clay content of the pitch good aeration is crucial.

"We do not have the money to spend on expensive systems here," says Richard. "We make every penny count by using contractors to do a thorough job of renovation and pitch treatments. "

His cutting machine at the club, which he bought on his arrival, is a Kubota triple cylinder mover. Previously the club only had a rotary mower. The club has recently bought an Iseki compact tractor and Richard is deciding which attachments to purchase which would most benefit the pitch.

The Morden stadium pitch is on original clay soil and only regular top-dressings of sand have kept the pitch playable. Irrigation is from a mobile sprinkler system, moved manually

BLEC Multivator in action on the pitch at Tooting and Mitcham FC\'s pitch in MordenDespite his lack of equipment, Richard works hard between matches to keep the pitch playable - and Tooting and Mitcham FC did not miss a single home game last season, testament to the groundsmanship skills of Richard.

He has regular visits from advisors Alan Ferguson (head groundsman of Ipswich Town FC) and Ian Lacy, head of professional services, on behalf of the FA.

Richard (36) has been at the stadium for six months and was previously at Carshalton Bowling Club for three years as head greenkeeper .

He began in horticulture working for a plant-raising nursery and completed qualifications at Merrist Wood College in Surrey.

Tooting and Mitcham FC moved to The Hub in Morden eight years ago, having previously been at Sandy Lane, Wimbledon.

They have an artificial surface for training nearby - about to become a new 3G pitch - and are hoping to have a extra 3G pitch built in the near future, with the help of Lottery money.

The club is very much part of the "hub" of the community and concentrates on giving youngsters plenty of sporting opportunities with a fully equipped indoor gymnasium facility.

Richard's first game on the newly-renovated pitch will be a Chelsea ladies' game at the end of July.

"It's a constant battle with the weather but thanks to excellent work of contractors using modern machinery like the BLEC Multivator, we can keep the pitch playable under most conditions," says Richard.

Alan Ferguson said: "The pitch is in remarkable condition and the Multivator did a good job in ameliorating the sand into the pitch and spreading the seed. Decompaction was at a good 350mm, which is just what the pitch needed.

"There was very heavy rain over the next couple of days which washed the sand into the grooves and brought the grass through.

"Considering the number of games the pitch has played on it and the heavy London clay content this is a remarkable playing surface. Richard does an excellent job."

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