A number of new John Deere machines supplied by Parks & Grounds Machinery of Bidford-on-Avon, Warwickshire are used by Coventry City Football Club's grounds manager Michael Finch and his team of five staff to look after the pitches at the Ricoh Arena and the club's academy and training ground, the Alan Higgs Centre in south-east Coventry.
Latest additions to the fleet, bought with the advice of sales executive Will Davies at Parks & Grounds, include a 42hp 3720 eHydro compact tractor on Galaxy low ground pressure tyres, three R54RKB rear roller walk-behind mowers and an X740 lawn tractor with 3-bag Power Flow collector. These have joined several existing John Deere machines used at the training centre, including two 2653A triplex utility mowers, a 72hp 5415 tractor also on Galaxy tyres, and a 30hp 4310 compact tractor for general utility work and Vertidraining.
"We bought the new compact tractor at the start of the close season, and it's been a great buy," says Michael Finch. "It's a nice size tractor, big enough to cope with all our existing implements and small enough to get around easily. The most important feature is its low weight, and using the big Galaxy tyres means it causes no damage to the turf.
"The steering is fantastic, and the digital controls make it a very easy tractor to set up and use. The operator station is very comfortable too, you can sit in it all day without getting tired, it's a joy to drive really. It's a very good tractor for aeration, scarifying, top dressing and spraying, as well as for trailer work when required."
Coventry was one of the first clubs to use John Deere's new rear roller walk-behind mowers for cleaning up the pitch after games, with three men getting the job done in around an hour and a half.
"We mainly use the walk-behinds to tidy up the turf, but when we get a spurt of grass growth we can also use them for cutting during the week," Michael explains. "The rollers give a great finish, and pitch looks just as good - to me they've proved rotaries can be as good as cylinders. John Deere has the best rotaries on the market I think, especially with the suction, which is really powerful even in damp conditions. This makes them very good at picking debris up off the pitch, and they give a very clean cut too, which is what makes them so useful for this job.
"The pitch is now in its third season and we're very pleased with it. Many commentators say that it's fit for the Premier League, which is a great compliment. We certainly know that it is ready for that challenge and we have the machinery and skills to keep it in great condition. Overall the quality and reliability of John Deere machines speak for themselves - we're very happy with the choice of kit and with the advice and back-up service we get from the dealership."
The photographs show Coventry City Football Club's grounds manager Michael Finch seated on the new John Deere 3720 compact tractor, and heading the team using the new R54RKB rear roller walk-behind mowers.