Rain stops play at Spurs

Darren Baldwinin Football

Rain stops play at Tottenham


The pitch at White Hart Lane was reconstructed in the summer of 1996, one of the problems for the pitch was that the under soil heating system which had previously been laid was too close to the surface, making any aeration work difficult. The top 3"(75mm) was stripped off and removed, the under soil heating pipes were re-laid at 12"(300mm) centres to a depth of 12"(300mm).

New drainage was also installed in the form of gravel/sand bands before a layer of 3"(75mm) fibresand was spread over the whole pitch. This was then worked into the top 2"(50mm) of soil using a power harrow and the pitch levelled with the help of lasers.

That construction was delayed because of the clubs commitment to play American football so work didn't start until the beginning of June and seeding didn't take place until 30th June.

Our first game that season kicked off on the 15th August, only six weeks after seeding. Needless to say the pitch struggled in its first year due to the lack of establishment, particularly at the south end. Many of you may remember Steve McManaman's infamous bobble over Ian Walkers line on the TV!

The pitch recovered in the spring quite well, and I remember it looking better at the end of the season than it had at the beginning. We carried out basic renovation in May, and the pitch played very well the following year ('97-98).

By 2000, Poa had managed to manifest across much of the pitch so we brought in the Koro Topmaker and stripped off the top 20mm. 80 tonnes of specified sand were spread in between

three vertidrain operations to help work it in to the surface of the pitch. Then the pitch was tilthed and seeded. The first month of play I found the pitch to be quite soft, but as the roots took hold it settled down and we enjoyed a reasonable season of play.

Last season we again followed a basic renovation of scarifying (six passes with Amazone flail), verti-draining to a depth of 10"(250mm), top dress of 60 tonnes of sand and 15 x 20kgs of Advanta rye mix seed. Unfortunately fixtures again took their toll with the venue also hosting the England v Holland fixture here early in August.

south end.jpg

Despite taking preventative measures we lost a substantial amount of grass during these two months.pitch.jpg

The game last Saturday against Bolton would probably have been played, had we had more grass on the pitch, but we were also extremely unlucky with the amount of rain that fell in such a short space of time. The referee had to make a decision and he wasn't helped as the rain was torrential just before two pm. It had been raining since eleven that morning and there was a lot of surface water collecting on the pitch, particularly towards the south end.

The Bolton manager, Sam Allardyce arrived late due to the traffic and the weather and quite obviously didn't want to play. The forecast we were given stated that there was further rain until six pm, no supporters had been given access to the stadium so the two clubs and the referee decided to cancel the fixture.

Once the decision was made however the rain stopped, the sun came out and by three pm the pitch was fine- C'est la vie!

The recent problems started with the second leg of the Worthington Cup against Chelsea the previous Wednesday where the game was played in heavy persistent rain. Although the pitch had played well, the surface seemed to emulsify slightly and 'cap off'. Following that game we looted and raked the touchlines and goalmouths, walked the pitch forking divots and hand filled any small holes with a root zone mix. On the Friday we cut the pitch one way only with our Dennis 36" Premier-testament to the mild weather we've had I had nearly a box full of clippings-in January!


On match day morning the pitch was fine at 8.00am, but when the rain started it only took an hour for the puddles to show.

The pitch has been down now for six years and it is felt that a full reconstruction of the pitch is necessary to carry us forward in the future.

The proposal is to excavate the top eight inches of the pitch and remove. Install a gravel carpet over the existing drains and then put a specified root zone mix over the gravel to get back to a surface level (Minimum 8" of root zone). The pitch would then have the 'Desso' system woven in to retain stability and help drainage.

Time schedules are paramount so I would look to the contractor starting on the first of May with the pitch then ready for seeding a month later. The pitch would have about six weeks for the seed to germinate and the grass to then establish before the machines came in to install the 'Desso'.

Our first game will probably be played around the 10th of August. In addition to this work, I hope to install three pop ups along the centre of the pitch using a turf riser system. This would be in addition to our portable heads that we currently use, and would help us to water down the centre of the pitch at half time in the future.

The stadium design is very similar to Anfield and although we will still lose grass during a seasons play the new 'Desso' construction would provide a level and stable playing surface.
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