A Twickenham First
By Keith Kent
I can't tell you how much everyone is looking forward to it. There are 2 concerts on the 23rd and 24th August, with 50,000 fans on each of the two days. The first concert was sold out in less than 2 hours!
The Stones are local lads, so the whole area is buzzing. Fans are coming out of the woodwork; they're even talking about it in the local Tescos. I'm a Rolling Stones fanatic myself, so I'm really going to enjoy it.
Before that, however, on Saturday 16th August we are hosting the Middlesex 7's. It is the premier club 7's competition in this country and will be a fantastic event. We are looking forward to that. We've had a great summer and the pitch is coming along very nicely. For the 7's I've got some new lightweight, 3 piece posts from Stadia Sport, and they look really well.
On the Monday after the 7's finishes we have a stage crew coming in to prepare the ground for the concerts. The stage weighs 400 tonnes and is being set up at the south end of the ground. It will cover the try scoring area and go 5 to 10 metres on to the playing surface as well.
We are laying trackway for the stage to stand on. Around 10,000 people will be sat on the pitch, so we are using terraplas to cover it. In my opinion it is the best product in the world for pitch protection. It is fantastic, devised by Wembley all those years ago and it's never been bettered.
The day after the 7's we will cut the pitch as short as we can and aerate area under the stage. We are going to try to get it down to about 20mm. I want a good covering of grass but I don't want it long and lying flat. We'll then use a multi core all day and get as many holes in as we can.
In preparation we have spiked this week with a multi core in 2 directions and fed with a seaweed based soil amendment. I am expecting it to wash down the holes and hold a bit of moisture for us underneath the stage. When we get the stage off after the concerts, we are going to multi core and feed with a liquid iron in the hope that it kicks in with the seaweed and greens up.
In total the stage area is going to be covered for 9 days and the pitch area for 5 days. With the hot weather as it is, there is a good chance of disease so, as a precaution, we are going to spray the covered areas with Rimidin.
England play France on September 6th, and we are not going to see the south end of the pitch from 18th to 27th August, but I am confident we can get it ready in time.
I went up to Murrayfield when they had a Robbie Williams concert at the back end of June. They covered the pitch in terraplas and treated with seaweed, and it did ever so well; so I've copied a few of their ideas.
Also, the promoters of the concert, Clear Channel, arranged with the RFU for the police, health and safety officials, the local council, the Twickenham Facilities manager and myself to go to see the Stones in Paris at the Stade de France. It gave us the chance to meet all the guys who set everything up. As you would expect, it's all done very professionally.
The trip was invaluable. Being the first concert of any kind at Twickenham it is important that we get everything right.
And will I be there to see the concerts myself ? Wild horses come to mind.