0 A walk in the park with the head groundsman at Murrayfield Stadium

Jim Dawson Although he's a devoted football fan it's clear to see the lure of the role of head groundsman at Murrayfield Stadium for Jim Dawson.

Even with a thunder storm clapping in the clouds above every blade of grass seems to glisten and stand to attention ready for active service.

As head groundsman for Scottish Rugby Jim is responsible for caring for the stadium pitch, three practice pitches at the back, the Astroturf and all other grass within the grounds.

He has progressed from football's Scottish First Division to international rugby with the fruits of his labour being beamed around the globe when the giants of the sport such as the All Blacks and Australia come to compete.

"I'll get calls or text messages from other groundsmen on match day saying how good the pitch is looking on the telly," Jim said with a smile on his face. He's clearly proud of his work.

"Presentation is very important for an international pitch. Some people just look and think it's just grass but to the likes of green keepers and groundsmen when we look at grass we can be very critical. We look for disease, pests, anything at all wrong with the grass."

It was the prestige of Scotland's national rugby stadium that lured him away from tending the football pitch at Falkirk where he had sown seed for more than 17 years.

He said: "When I came from Falkirk I took pride in everything that I did there and with the international pitch it's key that everything you do looks as best as it can."

After an abnormally wet summer which has made Mr Dawson's job more challenging than most years - the pitch is primed and ready for the rugby season.

"The weather has been a challenge this summer. We only had one good week in March the rest was pretty wet. It's been vary hard to get any grass to grow because you need the right temperatures. When you do get the temperatures its raining and you can't get on with lawn mowers to cut the grass. Then you get thunder and lighting," he said as a loud rumble comes from above the forbidding skies.

The first fixture is on Saturday for Edinburgh Rugby versus Munster at 8pm and preparation on the pitch began after the final match of last season.

"Contractors came in to strip the turf from the field. Half an inch was taken off to regenerate the whole surface, get rid of any unwanted grass species and remove any thatch that has built up," explained Jim.

"If you don't get rid of that then there's a greater potential for problems in the rest of the season," he added.

This is just the first step to ensure the best possible standard of playing surface throughout the rugby season. It is also dependent on the type of seed used. At Murrayfield a special blend of four ryegrass seeds is used, this is a good choice for rugby because it is hard wearing and can recover quickly.

Having conquered the challenges that the weather has presented and most of the hard work is out the way there are just a few things left to do. Jim explained: "Last minute preparations would be to cut the grass on the pitch every single day. Sometimes we cut it twice a day to get it down to the right height because some players like a certain height of cut.

On Saturday Jim and his team will start work at 8am, which will include giving the pitch another trim.

"Then we'll get it lined which can take up to two hours then we'll put out the pitch kit and I'll spend maybe another hour walking the field to make sure I'm happy before handing it over to the events team," he explained.

Kick-off is at 8pm on Saturday and once the game is over Jim and his team can spend up to two hours filling in the divets before clocking off for the day.

Article sourced from :- http://local.stv.tv/edinburgh/magazine/188125-a-walk-in-the-park-with-the-head-groundsman-at-murrayfield-stadium/

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