Following a £700,000 investment in brand new synthetic pitch facilities for their training ground, Ben Connell, Grounds Manager at Ipswich Town Football Club is determined to maximise its working lifespan.
Ben Connell (right) with Adrian Brown from Tomlinson's Groundcare
Within the spend was an amount to cover synthetic maintenance machinery that fulfilled the care instructions provided by the installers. Meeting that remit, and so far keeping the pitches in a first-rate condition, is a Redexim Verti-Comb and Verti-Top 1800 from Charterhouse Turf Machinery.
The training centre, covering 7½ hectares of natural and synthetic pitches, has a hectic schedule hosting teams from Under 6's, right through to first-team training. "When our previous carpet had come to the end of its working life, I was determined to be best equipped to look after the new one" explains Ben who heads-up a team of 9 groundstaff.
"By purchasing our own maintenance equipment, we're not having to rely on contractors - meaning we can conduct operations as and when we need to, not when the time or budget allowed. We had a look at a number of options but settled on the Redexim Verti-Comb and Verti-Top machines - we're familiar with Redexim products, having had a Verti-Drain for a number of years. We know the machines are well built and good at what they do, and they're always backed up with brilliant support and service." The kit was delivered in September 2016 and installed by Curtis Allen of Charterhouse and Adrian Brown of local dealer Tomlinsons.
Ben is in a fortunate position of being able to restrict the usage of the synthetic pitches to 25 hours of play per week. This falls in line with the installers recommendations to use the Verti-Comb after every 10 hours of play, equating to roughly two passes a week. This helps to maintain the distribution of the rubber crumb. The Verti-Top is then utilised approximately every 10 weeks to keep the surface free from debris and contamination, alleviating any compaction and keeping the surface free-draining. This maintenance regime is keeping the fibres upright and the crumb decompacted and is key to helping it look and play well.
Final word from Ben, "The installation we have is top spec, so it was important we chose the right kit to protect that investment. We're all pleased with the results and continuing with this regular planned maintenance should see us safely through any health & safety assessments and the FIFA Pro testing when the time comes."