The End is in Sight
By Keith Kent
Well, with the two finalists of the FA cup now known and the Nationwide league all but finished bar the play offs, it is nearly time to get down to the close season works.
I love this time of the year, It is nice to be able to plan the renovation works with just a chance of them growing to fruition, without 22 big-footed footballers coming on and ruining it all for you?
With the weather being so kind to us all, the ground should be warming up enough to give us a good take of grass this close season.
But I know what some of you are going to say, " it has gone too dry". Yes I admit that it has become very dry indeed on the grounds that do not have adequate means of irrigation.
Maybe we sound like farmers to most people?
Lets face it, it is either too wet, too dry, too warm, too cold, too hot, too much rain or not enough rain. I better STOP, before I get us a bad reputation?
The games that are left to play are now the most important ones of the season.
We played here at Old Trafford last night in the European Champions League semi-final first leg. It has been dry for such a long spell that I ran my irrigation system twice through the night on Tuesday. The opposition trained on Tuesday evening under the lights for over an hour. So after they had trained, my lads and I, armed with the knowledge of the local weather forecast, set about preparing the pitch as soon as they came off.
First job as always was to divot. That's the task I feel separates us from the rest, to me the single most important job, during the season. I dorealise that time and money restrict most non-professional clubs from performing this operation, but if you get the divots replaced straight away, it can be the best job you do all week.
Once divotted, I irrigated the pitch throughout the night.
Match day and I was in bright and early to cut and roll the surface lengthways. The sun was up and shining brightly all morning. By lunchtime it must have been 20 degreesCelsius inside the stadium. We cut and rolled across in bright afternoon sunshine. Now that we are approaching the end of the season, I am cutting the grass a bit shorter particularly as the weather is so good.
We marked out but then the hard bit, how to put just enough water on without causing any damage up to kick off. I always walk about on the turf, looking and getting a "feel" for what is going on with the grass.
I always say to do the job you have to live it. So with that in mind I spent 4 hours on the pitch just watching what every sprinkler head was doing, by late afternoon it was very warm in the stadium.
At 5-30pm half the pitch was covered in shade and the other half was in warm and bright spring sunshine. This makes you think that one half may be drying out faster than the other. If it is do I give it more water?
What about the sun dropping behind the stand?
That is creating more and more shade, how do I react to that?
All these questions and more go through my head. As it was a big game I had more pressure put on me with so many camera teams all of whom wanted to be pitch side to do their own "localPrograms" at more or less the same time. Then the German players came out for a look and a feel of the pitch.
I want to get some more water onto the surface, but I do not want to risk getting them wet them through (although sometimes I might do?) so you have to be careful of what and when you run the water.
I did enjoy the game; the time just seemed to fly by. I was pleased with how well the pitch had played and how good it had looked despite the training session the night before.
That was the last game in Europe this season to be played at Old Trafford.
I just hope with fingers crossed that we as a club have TWO more yet to play!