Turfing the Theatre of Dreams
Up until a few weeks ago, I had felt that the pitch was going to hold up and get us through another season of play, but the combination of games and the recent wet weather has deemed it necessary to re surface the pitch.
Once our youth cup match had been played on Wednesday evening, the scene was set for the contractors to start the work on Thursday morning.
The contractors (Hewitt's) brought in to do the work started first thing, using the Koro 'Field Topmaker' to strip the existing turf off at a depth of 40mm. Needless to say it was raining quite heavily and although the Koro was working great, the trailer that the spoil was being put on to cart away, started to make quite a mess under the tyres. This was slowing us down considerably.
Friday started better and the turf was coming up quite nicely, but by the afternoon the weather had turned and the torrential rain, meant that I put back the turf delivery till the following Tuesday.
We had amassed approximately 500 tonnes of spoil outside the stadium gates, so on Sunday from 07:30 to 16:30 the wagons kept coming and were loaded by machine to remove it, clearing the area ready for the turf deliveries on Tuesday. The weather was again awful so it was important that we got rid of the spoil, before it became slurry.
I checked our rain gauge and we had 25mm of rain through Sunday into Monday. Despite the weather, we seemed to be on target and I was pleased that we had the extra day to do what I regard as quality preparation on Monday. It meant that all the edges were straightened up and prepared to meet the new turf, all the rubbish swept up and removed, and the machinery checked and ready to start turf laying the next day.
The lads arrived at 07:15 on Tuesday, the first turf lorries had already arrived so the operation swung into action swiftly and Old Trafford started to go green again. The lorries brought in about 275 square metres of big roll turf
The weather has got kinder, Tuesday was a bright sunny day, temperatures reaching twelve degrees Celsius inside the stadium, and the turf went down a dream. The same quantity of turf went down on Wednesday and Thursday, leaving the last 1000 metres to be put down on Friday.
Friday will be the tricky day as we finish the turfing off in the South West corner of the stadium. This area has obviously been compacted with the constant machine traffic (around 8-900 tonnes of weight) and we will have to de-compact the area and re-level it prior to the turf being laid. We will probably hand fork this area rather than use the machines, because of the weight and the fact that it is only a small area. We may add a little fibresand as well to reinforce the ground further.
Our next game is on the 23rd so we have a week to roll, cut and mark out the pitch. As this is fresh turf the local levels may need slight adjustment although the overall levels are good. Hewitt's will give the pitch the first roll on Saturday, while all the lads walk the pitch identifying and correcting any local levels.Hopefully by Monday we will be cutting the pitch using our Allett Buffalos to get the mowing bands in place. The rest of the week will continue in this vein as we look to transform a field of turf into a football pitch at our theatre of dreams.