September Football Diary

By Laurence Gale MSc

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Most football clubs will be well into their weekly maintenance regimes, divoting, mowing, verticutting, aerating, brushing, over marking and watering. It is important to keep an eye on the moisture content of the playing surface, particularly hs we have been experiencing quite a dry period in recent weeks. Water moisture content (MC) is very important on sand based pitches. Ideally keeping the MC at around 70% between games and achieving around 85% on match days.

Most groundstaff will be applying autumn N P K fertilisers, perhaps something like a 12/0/9 or 3/12/12 (Application Rates: 14-28 bags per Ha35g-70g/m2 25Kg Bag) to maintain grass colour and vigour. The choice of materials and how well they work will depend on factors such as soil type and weather, with moisture and air temperature being the catalyst for growth.

September tasks for football

Task

Frequency

Reason

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Aeration

When conditions allow

Hand or machine aeration to aid surface drainage, at varying depths of between 100-225mm penetration to prevent the development of a soil pan and provide adequate air space for roots to colonise. A range of aeration tines are available, Hollow, slit or solid tines all available in different sizes.

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Brushing/Sweeping

Daily/weekly

To remove dew and remove surface debris. Using a brush or a SISIS quadraplay will restore levels and produce striping or banding aesthetics.

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Disease

Daily/weekly

Keep and eye on fungal disease attack, use approved fungicides to treat infected areas. Fairy rings and red thread can often be widespread during September.

Maintain soil nutrient status, ensure the grass plant as the necessary nutrients for growth and development. Plants in stress are more prone to disease attacks.

An attack of Red Thread can be reduced by maintaining a healthy sward.

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Divoting

After matches and training

Repairs and replacing divots after matches is an important part of the maintenance programme to restore playing surfaces

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Goal posts

Weekly

Inspect goal posts and sockets to check they are safe and secure. Check nets to make sure there are no broken strands.

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Grooming/ verticutting



As required

Grooming and verticutting are operations that remove unwanted side grass growth and reduce the amount of debris in the sward. These operations are carried out on a regular basis often weekly or fortnightly. These operations are completed in conjunction with your mowing regimes and, as the sward is thickening at the moment, light scarification will help get more air and light into the base.

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Harrowing/ raking

When conditions allow

Helps to restore levels and keep surfaces open.

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Irrigation

As required

September can often be a dry month so irrigation will be a priority, especially when surfaces begin to dry out.

It is important to irrigate uniformly and ensuring the right amount of water is applied. Ensure that the water gets deep into the root-zone to encourage deep rooting. Allowing areas to dry out can lead to dry patch, a condition that prevents water infiltration into the soil, thus forming areas of non-uniform turf quality.

Many professional groundsman often have to water the pitch prior to games to specifically speed up the playing surface for players.

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Marking out

As required

Use approved marking compounds materials and ensure all line markings comply with FA rules and regulations.

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Machinery (Repairs and maintenance)

Daily/Weekly

Inspect and clean machinery after use; service and repair damaged machinery.

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Mowing

As required


Remember to check the height of cut; at this time of year, the pitch can be cut at a height between 19mm-35mm. Continue to mow the on a regular basis. Grass should now be mowed a minimum of three cuts per week. Preferably removing grass clippings if possible.

Quality of cut will be dependent on what type of mower is used, cylinder mowers can offer different cutting qualities which is governed by the amount of blades on the cylinder. A five bladed cylinder will give you a fine quality cut.


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Post match renovation

After matches

  • Replace divots

  • Repair worn areas (goalmouths / linesman runs)

  • Top dress to restore levels (localised)

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Pre match inspections

As required

  • Inspecting pitch surface and line markings

  • Checking post safety

  • Keep goalmouths roped off to stop unwanted early use - in an ideal world the pitch should be completely out of bounds.

  • Tidy up the edges of the pitch, strim around advertising signs and crowd barriers. Presentation on the pitch will be let down badly by unkempt edges.

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Seed bare & worn areas

When conditions allow

Seeding of sparse or bare areas can be carried out, Use germination sheets to aid this process but remove the sheets regularly to check for diseases. Remember that without good seed to soil contact the operation is useless.

Ensure you use new seed as old material may not give you the required germination rates.

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Weeds

As required

It' is now getting late into the season for applying selective herbicides; soil and air temperatures are not ideal for effective responses from these herbicide products. Hand weeding will be the most effective method of weed control during the winter months.