High Standards are the Norm at Home Park
By Peter Driver
Colin Wheatcroft, Head Groundsman at Plymouth Argyle Football Club sets very high standards for himself and his team. He recognises the importance of specialist machinery and, with a Coca-Cola Championship season behind them, funding has become available to allow him to make appropriate investments.
The Home Park stadium has one of the very few soil based pitches in the Championship and over the past three years, Colin has purchased a comprehensive range of Ransomes Jacobsen equipment from local dealer P.J Flegg to create a superb playing surface. Equipment includes an Iseki tractor, which is used primarily with a Wiedenmann deep aerator, between matches. A Jacobsen Tri-King mower is used for routine cutting at Home Park and on the practice pitches nearby. For the 2004-2005 season, Colin added a Ransomes Mastiff mower and an E-Z-GO MPT utility vehicle to the Club's fleet.
The Mastiff is used purely for the final cut for first team matches. As Colin says, "The Mastiff delivers the gold standard for pitch presentation." The MPT was originally acquired for core collection duties, but has evolved into a genuine multi-purpose vehicle. It is employed to take white lining equipment and flags to and from the training ground, towing a light roller and even for delivering stock to the Club shop. It has a very light footprint and frees up the tractor for other duties.
"Flegg's service is brilliant" says Colin Wheatcroft, "Clive Ralph is a trusted contact who has become a good friend. He is invariably smiley and friendly and he never pressurises. He simply makes it easy to buy. He identifies an appropriate opportunity, has machinery available for a 2-3 day demonstration and is always there for help and advice."Colin has the experience and expertise to contribute to any pitch care debate. More importantly, he is able to demonstrate practical achievements which benefit the Club on a day to day basis. He routinely scores highly in the IOG Groundsman of the Year Awards and is a tireless ambassador for the Club.