12 Parken 2006 the story so far….

Chris Hague-Parken Stadium Groundsman of the Year! Dec 8th 2005 saw the final game of the year in Parken, a Royal League (www.royalleague.com) match against local rivals Brondby.

The first game in 2006 was scheduled to be a friendly against German side Schalke 04 Jan 22nd. Parken stadium now operates 12 months a year. 2 League games were scheduled for February and added to these games, a Depeche Mode concert on the 25th.

We hosted two more Royal League games in March before the Danish Super League recommenced at Parken on the 19th March.

After this game the pitch was covered over using terraplas from the 22nd march to accommodate an exhibition. This involved cars and even a yacht being exhibited on the terraplas for a 3-day duration.

My exhibition was spent in sunny Preston, returning to lift the Terraplas on the 27th.

The winter in Scandinavia was extremely harsh this year; if it was not snowing it was certainly freezing with average temperatures down below -10c. Knowing the forthcoming calendar I consulted with the sports department and decided to close the roof pre the Schalke match. This was a gamble, as I had learnt from the previous year that once closed there was a possibility it may remain closed, subject to the weather conditions. The weather did not improve and the roof was finally retracted on March 18th-over two months of darkness for the grass. It only remained open for two days before being closed again for the exhibition until the 27th.

I was aware that there were no international matches scheduled at Parken during this Spring as Denmark had failed to qualify for the world cup so the grass suffering was not so much of a concern. The "arena" now offered the home team F:C kobenhavn the opportunity to train at Parken but at their own risk (surface wise). This plan appeared to work as we again won the Royal League. Germination sheets doing their job.

Attempts had been made to recover the surface under the roof and some germination was achieved, using the heating system, germination covers and Terraplas. However to sustain the health of the plants proved difficult and being the national stadium the press had a field day. The game of the season was to be played on April 30th against local rivals Brondby; the game was billed as the Danish title decider. I had assured the media that following our last home match on April 17th the pitch would be back to its best for the FCK v Brondby clash. It was and FCK won the title!

The season closed on May 14th to enable Denmark to prepare for the World Cup they hadn't qualified for so it was decided that another knockout tournament should be created, the Viasat (TV) Cup.

Our coach decided to play a junior side for the first round at the stadium on the 21st May, but the kids didn't read the script and won their game, meaning that their quarter final clash was scheduled again at home on May 29th. Sadly we lost the quarter final, but my depression was soon to be lifted as I studied the forthcoming summer of fun.

Summer of fun

As stated in previous reports on Pitchcare (summer renovation in parken1+2) the annual world speedway event sets a challenging predicament for me each year. 2006 presented the toughest obstacle to date.Koro work in progress

· June17th- Zulu Rocks Concert

· June 24th- World Speedway Grand Prix

· July 6+7th- Robbie Williams

· July 26th- Champions League qualifier

Time would be the limiting factor. I had discussed my situation with various industry celebrities, to include Mr. Campey, 'Big Dickie' Haynes (Gem professional), 'Magic' Matt Gresty (Advanta seeds) and PC's very own D.Saltman®. I basically asked for feedback and encouragement on my decision to fraize mow the speedway track area prior to the speedway track being laid in the hope that post speedway it would recover quickly.

It's always wise to listen to others opinions, even if, as you will read, you neglect them! Due to the fact that the speedway construction requires 5 days, I decided to Koro the speedway area before the Zulu concert.

Speedway track consolidation-Over my pitch! No nutrition was applied, because I didn't want to encourage growth but as the rainfall arrived the grass began to recover. The response in the predominantly shaded areas was superior, moisture being the key.

Very reassuring to know all this, but the intention had been to recover the grass post speedway. Beneath the 3000 tonnes of fine road stone speedway track the plant leaf will decay. The fraize mowing operation had been carried out to avoid this decay, as removing the rotted plant is generally a time consuming operation afterwards. That said, a valuable reference for the future.

The pitch was covered for the concert and on June 18th the Terraplas cover was lifted off and the speedway construction commenced the next day.

Work to the pitch started again on June 27th and the areas damaged by the speedway were again lightly Koro'd. The production plans granted me untilNew Grass under the Terraplas the 2nd July when the Terraplas would be re-laid for Robbie Williams. Seed had been established on a number of previous occasions under the Terraplas in the stadium and I was confident we could achieve this aim again. Due to the size and scale of the RW concert and the fact that 2 nights shows were to take place the Terraplas would cover the field until 8th July.

During one of the night's concerts Mr Williams announced on stage that he was "tired" due to the fact that Denmark is rich with beautiful ladies. Well Robbie, try sitting on a tractor and working to a turf managers schedule!

The plan was to sow the seed on June 29th apply the fertiliser and allow another 2 days to damp the seed down for germination.

Concert debris During "mid Koro" on the 27th it became apparent to me (a vision) that the initial plan could cause other problems. The nutrition would have to be applied at a high rate due to the short time scales to the next game, added to this the 2-day irrigation period, I found myself concerned about leaving the centre of the field without renovation. (The middle of the pitch remains as a grass infill, inside of the Speedway track).

Disease (primarily fusarium) would be one issue, the second being irrigation as I would not advise covering for a concert on wet grass.Bare with Desso fibres showing

Parken's pitch is reinforced with GrassMaster (Desso) fibres and from experience knowing that football can be played on the Desso alone I finally took the decision to remove all the vegetation from the pitch.

So with the whole of the pitch vegetation now removed the seed and fertiliser was applied as scheduled on June 29th. The Terraplas was laid down on July 2nd.

For the duration of the concert build and removal the surface under the Terraplas was examined daily. Good germination was achieved. The flooring was lifted on July 8th, displaying a delicate plant-ready to take in the air and establish itself willingly. With the Champions League 17 days away we had something to work with.

Preparation of new grass Generally post concert the surface would be swept and de-compacted. Due to the status of the new grass this option would have been too severe, therefore debris was removed by hand for the first three days and the pitch watered as required. A light over-seeding was carried out on 11 July and the germination covers laid over the pitch on the 13th. Irrigation continued and removal of the covers on the 18th exposed a progressing grass cover. The first cut at 40mm took place on the 19th using two pedestrian rotaries and gradually decreased to an acceptable match height of 27mm for the Champions League game a week later.

Autumn of fun26th July-Champions League

F.C. Kobenhavn have qualified for the Champions League group stages for the first time in their concise history (established 1992). So we will be expecting not only more games in the fixture list, but the regulation pre-match day training sessions as well.

On the 8th September we hosted the annual Novo "McParkens" Party, staged on the pitch, with 8,000 diners sitting down to eat.

Then FCK took on Benfica (Champions League) on the 13th. Two days later, Diego "hand of God" Maradona stepped over Parken's white lines to play in a 6 a-side evening before a Danish Super League match last Sunday.

So far for October and November the calendar includes 3 concerts, World Championship boxing, and plenty more International, Champions League, Royal League and Danish Super League matches.

Reflecting on 2006 I have one regret.

I did not buy shares in Parken Sport and Entertainment!

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