Fulham Football Club's campaign in the Premiership this season has been underpinned by the efforts of head groundsman Dave Fellowes and his team in keeping the pitch at Craven Cottage in tip-top condition.
A team of Dennis mowers compromising four G860's and one premier mower are used to cut and maintain the pitches at the clubs training ground and at Craven Cottage.
"The main pitch needs to be cut every other day to maintain perfect playing conditions, and I cut it on match day to ensure an extra special finish," Dave explains. "This was the key reason for purchasing the Premier - it is a heavier machine that creates perfect stripes. Presentation is very important when matches are televised, and players and other members of staff always comment on the quality of the pitch which is really nice."
He adds that the pitch has been playing especially well since the club invested in the Premier, and that its diesel engine makes it economical to run.
Also essential for ongoing pitch maintenance are the G860s, which have been in the fleet for four years.
"The G860s are lightweight, meaning less compaction and they are so easy to use - the cassettes are very quick to change. I can adjust the height of cut in seconds." says Dave.
He points out that the user-friendliness of the Dennis range is important for a busy football club: "The layout of the controls is well designed and they are clearly labelled - I have had trainees here who have started up the Dennis mowers and away they go, giving them confidence because they are so straightforward to use. Vibration going to the handlebars is significantly reduced by their mounting on rubber grommets, and is further minimised by the centrally mounted engine, which makes them much more comfortable to operate."
Dave comments that Dennis Manager Robert Jack was especially helpful when it came to choosing the Premier. "Robert came and demonstrated the machine and then let me keep it for a week so that I could try it out on match day to make sure it was the right mower for us," he explains. "It was a big investment decision and he appreciated this, but it has been an investment that has really paid off."
Dealer Lister Wilder who supplied the mowers also helps out with the rigorous machinery maintenance regime that Dave insists on:
"I have the cylinders reground twice a year and the mowers are serviced annually. We really do look after them as they are such a vital part of our grounds maintenance line-up. I even have a check list that is filled in every time a mower is used so that staff can flag if anything is wrong. This cuts down on breakages and keeps the machines in premiership condition," he explains.