New first team pitch for Bradford & Bingley RUFC
By David Markham
Newly promoted Bradford and & Bingley have spent some £31,000 on a new pitch this summer, but the work has been hampered by the vagaries of the English summer. At first the weather was too dry for the new grass to grow. More recently the weather has been too wet.
The club, which capped a superb season by also winning the Powergen Cup at Twickenham in April, received a £31,000 grant from the RFU, Sport England and the Government towards the development of their facilities and decided to spend it on a new first team pitch.
Neighbouring clubs Wharfedale, Keighley and Leeds Corinthians also received grants. All these clubs have significant community involvement and have large junior sections.
Total Turf Solutions were engaged as the consultant agency. They assessed the Bees requirements, tendered and then engaged Bancrofts of Hyde as contractor for the work.
Groundsman Mark Heap said: "We killed all the weeds, used a stone burier and rotavated to a depth of 12 inches and then used a laser grade machine on the pitch. They then added 80 tons of root zone and 80 tons of sand and mixed it all together, re-seeded the pitch and prayed for rain! That was towards the end of May.
Just before the contractors seeded the pitch it started to rain, so they suspended the work and waited for some fine weather. If not it would been mushy. Eventually, it was seeded over two weeks in June and then we had a really dry hot spell. Because the club has no irrigation the club were at the mercy of the weather. The seed came through but so did a lot of weed as well, which was either blown on to the pitch or it was just in the soil. I had to wait until the grass grew to a height of four or five inches before I cut it with a rotary mower. We then used a John Deere cylinder mower, which we got as part of the grant as well as a 1.2 metre verti-drainer.
After a month we put on another fertiliser spread and that coupled with the wet weather kicked the whole project into action. I have been cutting, spiking and aerating and just praying for some dry weather.
Before the club went to Jersey for a pre-season tour everything was going well, but we have been flooded twice since and it was too wet to do verti-draining.
The old pitch used to have saddles because it is in the valley bottom close to the River Aire. We are in a beautiful setting but being close to the river causes us problems. We have got rid of the saddles and hopefully the pitch will hold up to the rigours of the national league."