Its all just like waiting for a bus!
Following a blank weekend after being knocked out of the FA Cup, we found ourselves looking forward to two home games in four days the following week. Over the previous weekend we had 20mm of rain, which wasn't ideal. However, the pitch was aerated with the Toro multi-core two weeks previously to a depth of 2 ½ inches and had only been cut once during that time, with a light rotary mower. We also seeded after the last game and covered the seeded areas with germination sheets and we enjoyed some growth in the goalmouths, but nothing on the linesman runs.
The original plan was to cut the pitch on the previous Saturday and then each day from Monday until the Fulham game on Wednesday. Due to the wet weekend, this wasn't possible, so we had to try to fit a 'double cut' in on the Monday or Tuesday- again depending on the weather. The forecast for the week was unsettled, so it was a case of getting on to mow when we could. Following Wednesdays game we had another important game on the Saturday at home to West Bromwich Albion, so we had to keep one eye on the Fulham game and another on the preparation for the weekend fixture. The fixtures have been strange at times to say the least this season, here we were, like most clubs, facing two games in four days, followed by a break of three weeks before the team entertain Arsenal and then another three weeks before the Birmingham game in mid-March. It seems to be just like a bus-none for ages then two come along then nothing afterwards again!
On the Monday we cut the pitch twice with the Mastiff and took off 2 ½ boxes of grass, whilst doing this we were also trying to scare off the Magpies that have been taking delight in ripping the surface up on the far wing-one look at my face and they soon went!
On Tuesday, we cut the pitch again and took off ¼ of a box. The previous 24 hours had brought us 6 mm of rain, but with it also came gale force winds, which meant that we had to 'board off' certain areas of the pitch that were prone to holding water in the sub-surface. By turning on boards we protected the grass cover in the more delicate areas. As you can see, it can be noticeable!
Wednesday-Match day! We cut across the pitch in the morning, again ¼ of a box of clippings were removed. Once cut we marked the pitch. This work was all completed by lunchtime to give the paint as much time as possible to dry. With one eye on the West Bromwich game, we brought a couple of the lads from the training ground at Carrington to help with the knocking back afterwards. The game itself went ok-the pitch looked the best it has done all season. Yet it didn't play quite as well as we would of liked unfortunately. Straight after the game, we all divotted for an hour and a half.
Thursday meant starting all over again! We got the Dennis mower out, using the brush attachment and swept the pitch lengthways and then across to clear away the loose stud scars from the game and to give us a good clean surface to start to prepare for Saturday.
The machine was set on a semi-severe setting to get as much debris up as possible, but at the same time not to severe as to rip out too much grass.
Altogether we took off 8 ½ boxes of dead grass and scrapes from the studs. Our problem this season has been the Poa Annua without a doubt, this is another reason for our regular brushing-not letting it settle back on the surface to re-root and take the place of the desired ryegrass that we want on the pitch. After the brushing was done, we re-divotted the pitch once more to make sure the pitch was as flat as possible.
Friday was another day of cutting, again across, followed by marking out , a bad forecast by the met office meant preparing everything the day before though we would of preferred to do it on the match day. With rain also forecast for the night ahead, we covered each six yard box over with sheeting to keep them
Saturday- yet another Match day! We got the nets, flags and portable goals ready and then kept out of the light showers which were on and off for most of the morning. The pitch didn't look as good as it had the previous Wednesday, we put this down to three things-the previous game was a very competitive one, with a few tasty tackles flying around at times, not cutting on the day of the game and also the closeness of the two games. However this was compensated by the fact the pitch played a lot better and we did feel that this more than made up for the presentation not being quite as well as the previous Wednesday.
We divotted for an hour or so after the game and breathed a huge sigh of relief-no more games for three weeks!!!