Three games in week for White Hart Lane, and a Middlesbrough warm up!
By Darren Baldwin
Going into the matches the pitch was in reasonable state, a little on the soft side but with a good grass coverage. We had aerated the pitch and given it a 4:2:8+2Fe Autumn/Winter feed in the run up to these matches.
Now the pitch was slowing down, we cut the pitch the day before the game and marked out on the morning of the match. The pitch looked well for the visit of Middlesbrough. We were concerned before the match about Middlesbrough's warm ups, so we asked their coach to train on the better side of the pitch.
Middlesbrough goalkeepers out 1 hour 5 minutes before kick off, spending just 10 minutes in the portable goal, the rest of the time in the main goal. The whole team came out 50 minutes before kick off. They carried out really intensive shuttles that made the pitch sink 2 inches in places. They also played a small sided game on top of the same area where they did the shuttle runs.
We were actually relieved when the match got underway; the pitch held up reasonably well. Following the game, we divoted, brushed and ran the Honda over the pitch before giving it a cut on the day of the West Ham cup tie. Despite extensive repairs, the damage caused by the Middlesbrough warm up was still visible.
West Ham's goalkeepers came out 45 minutes before kick off, with the rest of the team 5 minutes later. Their warm up consisted of mini shuttles and tight one touch pass and moving down the middle of the pitch.
Although not in Middlesbrough's league, I still consider West Ham's warm up to be excessive. The game went into extra time which didn't help the pitch and the south end penalty area was a little 'trodden' by the final whistle.
The following day we divoted and used the Honda to pick up any debris. We carried on divoting on Friday, then cut and marked ready for Bolton.
Credit where credit's due, Bolton's staff could not have been more helpful with sensible warm ups and general all round respect for the pitch. The goalkeepers were out 40 minutes before kick off making sensible use of the portable and main goals. The team was out 5 minutes later and played a small sided game, but not for long, with some shuttles without twisting at speed at the ends.
I felt Bolton's warm ups were sensible and reasonable. They were out for approximately half an hour and used areas sensibly. If every team had this approach I don't believe groundsmen would be so worked up about warm ups.
It's not just in the groundsman's interest that the pitch is used sensibly, but ultimately the players. Where Middlesbrough carried out their shuttles was going to cause the ball to bobble instead of running smoothly, and it did.
We are now in a gap between games and have time to turn the pitch around. It's being cut as and when required, and will receive a liquid and granular feed before our game with Aston Villa on 23rd November.