0 Speedcut pitches under the Olympic spotlight

The scale of the Kidbrooke Playing Fields project can be seen in this shot of Speedcut applying sand prior to seedingWith Olympic facilities the focus of national attention, Speedcut is renovating football training pitches at Loughborough University, having completed five new pitches at Kidbrooke Playing Fields, Greenwich - home of Long Lane Junior FC, and a major Olympics football training base.

Kidbrook was one of the biggest football pitches construction jobs in London, developing a five hectare (12 acre) site.

Long Lane Junior Football Club is the largest junior football club in London and one of the biggest in Britain.

The new pitches project was a challenge for Speedcut because of varying levels on the undulating ground but staff used their laser-guided Caterpillar D6 to create level pitches.

After stripping topsoil, regrading the subsoil and laser levelling to FA-accepted gradients, the Speedcut team installed a complete primary drainage system after replacing the topsoil and cultivating.

More than 2,000 tonnes of sand was then applied to the surface to ameliorate the topsoil.

After light grading, a BAR7 dwarf perennial ryegrass mix was sown, the topsoil having been given a fertiliser application.

"The dry weather was a problem because there was no irrigation on the site," said Speedcut contracts manager Kevin Smith.

"Once rain arrived the grass became well-established and we then sandbanded the whole site before applying two further dressings of sand."

Consultants on the Kidbrooke site were TGMS (Turftrax Grounds Maintenance Systems) and the project was jointly funded by Greenwich Council, The Football Foundation and Long Lane JFC.

Kidbrooke Playing Fields are home to Long Lane Junior Football Club, the largest in LondonKidbrooke now has a variety of football pitches, including mini and junior.

Said Kevin: "We were pleased to be working as part of a team with Turftrax, the club and Greenwich Council.

"This was a massive project and we were delighted with the results."

Mick Northwood, chief executive of Long Lane JFC, said: "Speedcut did an excellent job and we are looking forward to developing the club's football talent on exceptional playing facilities."

Other football pitch construction in the last 12 months included five at Kings Hill, near West Malling in Kent, five for Colchester United FC in Essex, eight pitches for Worthing Town FC and four pitches for Brent Council in the shadow of the Wembley National Stadium arch.

Some high-profile independent schools had new football and cricket pitches built by Speedcut, including Charterhouse in Surrey and two on the Isle of Man - King William College and Castle Rushden High School.

At the Colchester United FC Training ground at Tiptree in Essex Speedcut completed five pitches on the club's training ground - one of the toughest jobs they have done.

"TBarry Pace head and shoulders DSC 0432he ground conditions were incredibly difficult," says Speedcut contracts manager Barry Pace. "Because of the thick clay overlaying gravel our machinery was constantly under strain, despite tungsten tips on the cutters."

Drainage began with the construction of an outfall into a massive soakaway, then the whole site (seven hectares) was laser graded and primary drainage installed at five metre centres.

The pitches themselves were each of a different construction to provide varied playing conditions.

The community pitch, which will be used by local clubs, was prepared and seeded using existing soil from the site, after stonepicking.

The four main training pitches each had different rootzone treatments - all had rubber crumb incorporated.

One pitch had rubber crumb incorporated into the existing soil before seeding, while another had rubber crumb ameliorated into the soil before 5cms of sand was applied and seeded.

The third had 5cms of fibre-reinforced rootzone applied over a rubber crumb-ameliorated base while the fourth had a 10cms of fibre reinforced rootzone placed over two and half centimetres of rubber crumb.

Speedcut contracts manager Barry Pace said: "Speedcut had a team of six working on the site for about 12 weeks and we brought in 6,000 tonnes of materials for pitch construction, including gravel for drainage trenches fibre-reinforced rootzone material and rubber crumb."

Speedcut Contractors are specialists in sportsturf construction, drainage and renovation and have a long record in every type of sporting venue, including rugby,cricket and racecourses - and clients include local authorities, schools and colleges.

"We have had one of our busiest periods on record," says Speedcut managing director Dick Franklin, who founded the business at his Oxfordshire base in 1977. "This year is already looking very busy with work on prestigious golf clubs across the south."

Speedcut's Gwazae deep-probe aerator has been in action at racecourses including Royal Windsor, Brighton and Fontwell while sand-banding and sand-slitting has been carried out on golf courses and football pitches across the country.

SPEEDCUT DETAILS: 01865 331479. www.speedcutcontractors.co.uk

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