SUMMER WORK AT THE SAINTS
By Dave Roberts
The current mood is very good within the club at the moment. There are no worries about relegation as we've had in the past. It's a great weight off everybody's mind. This is nearly the end of our first season here at St Mary's and we will soon have the pitch constructors back in to do some remedial works on the new surface.
Normally, at this time of the season, I'd be looking forward to sorting out a few issues. Even after one season we could see some significant changes to the surface of the pitch, which will be interesting because, to date, it has performed very well. These changes are likely to involve removing the top 25mm and increasing the dep
We've still got a few games to go on the pitch - 2 first team, 5 other matches including a testimonial. We finish on the 15th May with a fans 5-a-side day. I'll probably leave the grass a bit longer for that, if there's any left by then!
At the moment most of my work is at the training ground. We have some major works to be done. We've only got three full size pitches, so they get used intensively. The main pitch, which is like a mini stadium, has taken a beating. We're going to look at some rebuilding, however, we can't do a full rebuild because we haven't got the time in the closed season to do it.
We're going to strip the top, cultivate the top 6" which is very sandy soil, and put a subsoiler in to take out any deep-seated compaction. The pitch is already pipe drained with a good sand slit system in it.
We'll probably go for re-turfing with a custom grown root zone. The turfing will be out sourced to contractors, purely from a time point of view. We aren't geared up to do it, we haven't got enough members of staff and on a job this big I'd rather put the ball in somebody else's court. So we'll get them to supply and lay.
Again, we'll probably get somebody in to take the top off with a Koro 'field Topmaker'. I'm hoping the job will be completed by the last week in May, then we'll quickly have a brand new surface which we will maintain very intensely with some tining and very light sand dressings throughout the Summer.
Although the chances are it's going to be a good free draining sandy soil we're importing, the drainage rates are not going to be as good as we want. I need it to knit in with the very free draining soil underneath as much as we can.
The rest of the pitches will get our bog-standard treatment. The only difference this year, instead of using the vertidrain, we are going to try the ALS 'Earthquake' machine over the whole area. That will be our main machine for decompaction and, instead of scarifying, we'll be trialling the Rotaknife fitted with mini discs which will give a slicing action and cut through all the thatch layers.
At the moment our biggest worry is the lack of water, it's absolutely frightening. We don't have a pop-up irrigation system at the training ground, everything's done by self travelling sprinklers. We've got a couple of long reach irrigators and they do a good job, but they're not the same as a pop-up system.
I aren't leave the travellers on at night, In case a pipe comes off or the traveller stops in the same place, so we're watering during the daytime when you get a lot of evaporation as well. It's not ideal, but the quote for the pop-up system is round about £100,000, which is out of our budget by a long shot.
So we have a lot to be going on with during the Summer, and hopefully the opportunity to obtain another 6 acres of land by the training ground. I'll keep you informed of any progress on that one.