Luton ready for the Championship
By Richard Bird
The early results of our end of season renovations look very promising. The sward is coming up well and I feel confident that, by the time we have our first friendly match towards the end of July, the pitch will be in pristine condition.
I want it to look its best for our return to the Championship.
To ensure we have a good surface to play on next season, I felt it was necessary to koro off the old vegetation and re-seed.
We used a contractor, Agripower, to come in on the 9th May and fraise mow off 12mm of the surface vegetation. Care was taken to ensure that the same amount was taken off across the whole pitch to leave a clean, level surface.
Prior to the fraise mowing, we had reduced the height of the sward to 17mm.
It took almost three days to remove all the vegetation. We then hollow cored the pitch to a depth of 60mm, leaving the cores on the surface. These were then brushed into the holes together with 14 bags of grass seed supplied by Rigby Taylor. We use a 70% ryegrass and 30% slender creeping red fescue mix. 60 tonnes of 70/30 top dressing was applied, followed by vertidraining to a depth of 200mm.
We brushed and drag matted all the rootzone and cores back into the surface holes made by the corer and vertidrain. It is always important to integrate the new material into the pitch profile.
I applied a pre seeding granular fertiliser putting on several bags of 6-9-6, and then overseeded with another 14 bags of seed, using a Blec disc seeder.
The weather was still fairly cold in the evenings, with the occasional night frost, so I made the decision to use covers to aid germination. We initially had trouble putting these covers on because of the strength of the wind, but once on they were left in place for 7 days.
All the work was completed in 5 days and, within a week, the seed had germinated. On the 27th May I put our SISIS spiker over the pitch, acting as a roller to begin the firming up of the pitch, whilst keeping the top surface open and helping to push in any seed that was left on the surface.
The first mowing took place on 27th May using our Dennis 36" machine, the only type of mower we have. I was happy with the results, removing about five boxes of grass, and continuing the consolidation process.
After a couple of more cuttings the pitch was ready for an application of 12-3-9 summer fertiliser. This was applied with a hand spreader so as not to flatten the new sward unnecessarily. The pitch was then irrigated to wash the fertiliser in.
The day we commenced our renovations was also the first day at Luton Town for my new assistant, Mark Panter, aged 20, who has joined me from Rushden and Diamonds F.C.
Overall I have been very pleased with the renovations, the contractor did an excellent job. By doing the preparation works ourselves and using some of our own equipment we were able to keep the costs reasonable, around £5,500.
With the right care and attention I am confident this new surface will stand up to the exacting rigours of the Championship.