Promotion to the Premiership and a busy programme which includes hosting rugby union side London Irish's fixtures makes the job challenging enough for Reading FC's Head Groundsman Greg Bolton, but this year he also had to contend with a pop concert on the newly renovated pitch - less than five weeks before the start of the new season!
Fortunately he was able to rely on J Premier Pitch from Johnsons Sport Seed to offer the rapid establishment and recovery essential to get the pitch at the Madejski Stadium in tip top condition for a friendly with Crystal Palace on 11th August.
"This is our first full year with Johnsons Seeds, having successfully used the autumn and spring rescue mixtures to keep the pitch performing well through the season, and I have been really pleased with the results," Greg comments.
After post season renovations, 22 bags of J Premier Pitch were drilled on 15th June, germination sheets laid and the first cut of the new sward made just seven days later.
"J Premier Pitch takes really well, and the seed is very clean, so it goes through the seeder really well. It is very easy to use," comments Greg.
Ahead of the concert on 10th July, the pitch was covered with Super Track, plus a 4m strip of aluminium tracking for access. "We applied a PGR before the covers went down, and when they came up again, the pitch had survived surprisingly well," Greg explains. "There was some die back under the trackway, so we raked the dead material, aerated to help level the pitch and overseeded."
With the club's normal nutrient programme, plus the use of amino acids to help the sward recover from the stress of being covered, the pitch came back very quickly. "After four weeks you wouldn't have known there had been a concert on it!" Greg says. "I am very happy with the way J Premier Pitch performed under very difficult circumstances."
He intends to continue with the Rescue programme through a busy winter season, topping up the sward every eight weeks or so, ensuring that the pitch is always in Premiership condition for the 40 first team rugby and football fixtures that it will see between now and next spring. "It's a demanding programme, but Johnsons Seeds will help the pitch perform to its best," he says.