Home to a total of 25 teams, the facilities at Newmarket Town FC are certainly put through their paces. In early 2016, a £750,000 upgrade was made to install a new artificial pitch, one of the first full size pitches in the UK to have cork infill. To protect and maximise the lifespan of their investment, Club Secretary Graham Edwards enlisted the help of synthetic specialists, Replay Maintenance.
Filling a pitch with cork is becoming more common throughout continental Europe as an alternative to rubber and carries a number of benefits; its 100% organic from a renewable source; it doesn't absorb water helping to keep the surface free draining; it's odourless and from an aesthetic point of view, it plays and looks like a natural football pitch.
"It took 2 years of research before we decided to go for the pitch we did" explained Graham. "We visited a number of sites including a facility with cork infill at a school in Barnes and we knew straight away that's what we wanted. It also migrates less, meaning that from a maintenance perspective it's a lot more manageable. We can conduct regular in-house brushing to keep the infill level, but to perform a more thorough clean we needed to look for an external specialist. We contacted a number of companies and were particularly impressed with the service and expertise Replay could offer. Although this is a new project and infill type for Replay, the company has invested in state-of-the art units that can cope with different infill types including cork.
Steven Spence, Operations Manager at Replay Maintenance commented, "The uprated Revive Pro machine and process gives us a whole host of additional benefits. These include more horsepower enabling us to fully de-compact a surface without the need for tines - thanks to the increased control and productivity at the brush-head. It also features an uprated turbine for increased vacuum capacity and dust/detritus separation and of course the all-important cab to safeguard our Operative against noise and the elements."
With approximately 35 hours of use per week, and that looking to increase next year, the maintenance is going to be vital to keep the surface safe and playing to its full potential. "Replay have been in twice so far," says Graham, "and each time the work has been thorough and when they've left the surface has looked as immaculate as it did when it was first installed - we've been really impressed with the work they have carried out. All in all we're absolutely delighted with the whole pitch and particularly the cork infill. With the two-pronged maintenance taking place there's no reason why we shouldn't reach the maximum expected lifespan our investment offers."