Now for the quiet time of the year!
After a hectic summer which has seen us renovating most of our existing sites and maintaining them all. Our work has also included overseeing the new construction of an existing soil pitch into a fibresand area, having the drill and fill work at Maine Road (which I discussed in a previous article) and also the installation of new sprinklers. We had a dose of the customary leaf spot, problems with casting worms, we even had to help out the commonwealth games by supplying our line marker, string and paint for the rugby sevens at short notice. With all that gone under the bridge, it should all start to quieten down now the season has started!
We had our first use of Maine Road on Saturday 10th August which was a training game between the players, all went well barring the 1 ½ inches of rain in the 36 hours leading up to it-well this is Manchester after all.
We saw this as the ideal opportunity for the players, especially the new ones, to have a work out on the pitch and get a feel of it before the first real competitive game. From a Groundsmans point of view it was also a good chance for the players to kick out some of the poa annua which has suddenly appeared over the last three months.
We found that the players were kicking up a lot of strands of grass, which upon looking at it, was obviously more poa, so our thanks go out to the players of both teams for scarifying the pitch with their boots!
The following week, we brushed the pitch with our Dennis G760 and used this quite severely to try to rip out the poa and stand the rest of it up ready to be cut. the grass on Maine Road is so dense down the middle, I have never seen anything like it in my time at the club. Roy, the Head Groundsman, decided that to try to rid the surface of as many seed heads as possible, we needed to lower the cut on our mowers from 25 to 22 mm, This height was lower than we had ever previously before cut at on this particular pitch. We cut with the mastiff and took off 23 boxes of grass. Not an insignificant amount considering we were cutting every day.
I can tell you that our apprentice Gary, wasn't very impressed with having to pick it up and carry it to the skip.
We also applied 280kgs of kieserite to the pitch on the Thursday to try to rectify a magnesium deficiency that was discovered following a recent soil analysis. We continued regular cutting all week which brought us to the Everton home game and the unexpected forecast of dry weather.
Once more the players did a great job removing the poa but the rye grasses stayed intact. Following the game we divotted for an hour and then came in on the Sunday. Gary cut the pitch with the mastiff and I applied 260kgs of mascot 3-0-3 turf hardener to give the grass a colour boost ready for our next game two weeks later; Blackburn-once more in front of the sky cameras.
I always look forward to the season coming around again as it is what i consider to be our quiet time, less threat of disease, the cutting becomes less frequent and there is the chance to get to a few away games. It is always interesting talking to the other Groundsmen and finding out what they have had to deal with. I must thank the Ground staff at Leeds and Villa for looking after us-or putting up with us-whatever the case may be!
Bye for now.